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Iron Man has seen his popularity explode over the past 12 years due to MCU giving him such an awesome depiction in the form of Robert Downey Jr, but Iron Man actually goes way back and has some of the best comics out there.
Starting as a B-tier superhero at best, Iron Man is now an elite member of the superhero community, and Tony Stark is a name that’s become just as famous as Bruce Wayne or Clarke Kent.
New Iron Man comics come out all the time now, and the mantle of Iron Man has actually been passed around as well, which opens up not only the possibilities for new stories but new villains as well.
Iron Man always seemed like a pretty unlikeable character for me until the past decade, when both the film presence and comic book presence of Iron Man really took off into the stratosphere. From afar, a super-rich playboy with infinite intelligence and nothing really giving him any adversity was something that I couldn’t really relate to.
He felt like Batman minus the tragic backstory and isolation, but recently, such an energy has been injected into the character that you can’t help but love Iron Man, and part of that is because he’s gotten such an awesome cast of villains to fight over the years.
Iron Man’s villains are very unique because many of them utilize similar armored suits to even the playing field, but sometimes, they are able to contend with him just by using their brains alone.
They encapsulate people both old and young, and many of them have motivations that you wouldn’t necessarily call evil, making them all the more interesting to dive into. Let’s check out some of the best villains Iron Man comes up against.
Short for Advanced Idea Mechanics, AIM has been a constant threat to many superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and Iron Man has happened to be one that’s taken up arms against them, particularly because of their abuse of science.
Because of Tony Stark’s scientific brilliance, he sees AIM as the ultimate threat to humanity as they often try to take the dangerous technology he builds to use for their own nefarious purposes.
Among the most dangerous threats at AIM is MODOK, who is a man that was altered into a massive head with arms and legs with super intelligence, and he consistently tries to steal the weapons that Tony Stark creates.
AIM is an unending collective for Iron Man and The Avengers, and whether it’s big or small in the scheme, they are always a worthy adversary for Iron Man to deal with.
Arno Stark is Tony Stark’s brother and first appeared in Iron Man #12. Arno’s backstory is a dark one, having been genetically altered and meant to pilot a dangerous suit of armor known as the Godkiller. His father, Howard Stark, destroyed the experiment, leaving his son crippled and mute unless attached to machines. Tony discovered Arno Stark decades later, where Arno would go on to become the next Iron Man.
Unfortunately, Arno’s supreme intelligence mixed with a virus he had caused supreme delusions, causing Tony to have to put him into a fantasy world where he was allowed to use his power to save the world as he saw fit.
Arno is capable of one day operation the Godkiller, a weapon of unlimited power, making him a very dangerous threat, likely at some point in the near future. Tony has never fought his brother, but time will tell if that continues or not, as his enormous threat is ever present.
The father of Madame Masque, Count Nefaria, is one of the only villains that can stand toe to toe with Iron Man and come away unscathed. He’s a product of experimentation and, through it, became a superpowered crimelord of the Maggia Crime Organization. He is armed with incredible strength, blinding speed, and the ability to shoot energy.
Count Nefaria has been a nemesis to The Avengers throughout the years but specifically has taken up arms against Iron Man as his relationship with his daughter has made the conflict far more intimate. Count Nefaria dies after fighting Iron Man in front of his daughter, but he loses the fight and has his life support system damaged in the process.
Count Nefaria has several forms, including one made out of pure energy, making him essentially immortal and marking him as a permanent member of Iron Man’s supervillain roster. In addition to his considerable powers, he also uses his organization for political aspirations, granting him massive amounts of power on multiple levels.
Of all the Iron Man copycat suits that try to take him down, Crimson Dynamo is by far the most frequent and worthy adversary. Crimson Dynamo is the soviet’s second try to create an Iron Man armor after Titanium man didn’t go over all that well, as we detailed earlier.
The Crimson Dynamo armor has been word by multiple different characters throughout the years, with each one being a member of the Soviet Army. Anton Vanko, whose son would later take up arms against Iron Man as well, was the original Crimson Dynamo as well as the armor’s creator.
Crimson Dynamo’s abilities differ from Iron Man’s in that he can control and generate all forms of electricity, allowing him to attack with lightning bolts of various varieties, and can fly as well. Crimson Dynamo also has a self-sustaining generator, which is something Iron Man initially lacked.
After being defeated by Iron Man, Vanko defected to the USA and became one of Tony Stark’s top scientists. Eventually, the next Crimson Dynamo, Boris Turgenev, would try to apprehend Vanko, causing both of their deaths in the process while Vanko sacrificed his life to save Tony.
Many Crimson Dynamos would follow, with each being inspired in some way by Ivan Vanko. There have been 13 total Crimson Dynamos to this date, and each has done battle with Iron Man at some point. Many go on to have mutual respect for Iron Man, though, with some turning to the side of good on occasion.
See also: Iron Man Suits Guide
Although you would normally relate Doctor Doom to being a foe for the Fantastic Four, he has actually clashed with Tony Stark on many occasions too. Doctor Doom is an incredibly powerful supervillain who also happens to be a genius scientist.
Doom’s body is solid metal and has no actual organs anymore, making him a nearly invincible foe. He can shoot metal spikes, regenerate, has super strength, and also has the ability to manipulate matter as well as summon black holes.
Doctor Doom has experimented with time travel as well, causing him and Iron Man to come into conflict when the two traveled to Camelot and Iron Man had to stop Doom from gaining the army of Morgan Le Fay.
Doctor Doom also has had his infamous Doom Bots clash with Iron Man in places like New York City, though it is unknown whether Doom sends them himself or if they have gained control over their own selves. Doctor Doom and Iron Man have teamed up on occasion, usually when pitted against a force threatening to destroy existence as they know it.
Doom is a power-hungry man who has ruled over the nation of Latveria for quite some time and uses that political power in his schemes frequently. His unending ability to gain resources and constant loyalty from his army makes him incredibly dangerous.
Fin Fang Foom
It would make sense for the one to be a match for Iron Man to be something that is not even human. Fin Fang Foom has the appearance of a dragon, but he is, in fact, an alien. He is why the Chinese culture respects dragons so much, giving him an interesting significance in comic book lore. Fing Fang Foom is incredibly powerful and has the ability to fly.
He can also spit acid from his mouth and has the power of regeneration as well. Fin Fang Foom also is incredibly smart and can also absorb and redirect energy.
Fin Fang Foom is not purely evil, but he has motives that often set him against Iron Man, who usually needs a ton of help to fell the alien dragon. Fin Fang Foom is so powerful than Iron Man’s most famous villain, The Mandarin, joined up with Iron Man to take him down.
Fin Fang Foom has had his body destroyed but has managed to survive as a spirit and binds himself to various objects and eventually taking over a human body for himself.
Unlike any other of Iron Man’s adversaries, Fin Fang Foom eventually got stripped of all his powers and became a human who worked in a Chinese Restaurant. Not what you would expect for a character with this much power, but such was the fate of the alien dragon.
See also: Iron Man Characters Guide
Although Ghost was repurposed into being an Ant-Man Villain in the MCU, he has always been one of the most dangerous Iron Man villains around. Ghost lives up to his name in both appearance and identity.
Nobody seems to know who he is, as he starts out as a hitman hired by AIM to take out Tony Stark. Ghost has the power to disappear completely and uses his stealthy suit to consistently throw a wrench into any of Iron Man’s plans.
Ghost is a master of infiltration and often uses this power to steal sensitive information and equipment that, frequently puts him at odds with Iron Man.
Ghost can phase through solid matter at times, making him an incredibly tough foe to face, and can also create solid holograms of himself, which can use his weapons and strength, making him all the more difficult a foe to deal with. Of all the villains Iron Man has faced, Ghost has come the closest to actually killing him.
One of the most dangerous members in the Marvel Universe is Kang the Conqueror, Immortus is the future version of him, making him just as powerful. Immortus is a being of normal power, but due to multiple versions of him existing through time and space, he is almost impossible to completely defeat. His conflict with Iron Man was a brutal one, resulting in Immortus essentially possessing Iron Man and causing him to commit murder. He even caused Iron Man’s death, although he would be revived by Franklin Richards shortly thereafter.
The MCU might not have done Justin Hammer justice in Iron Man 2, but he has forever been one of the most dangerous rivals to Iron Man and particularly Tony stark since his first arrival.
Justin Hammer uses his business knowledge against Tony on many occasions and is usually the one responsible for giving his most dangerous foes the upgrade they need in order to take out Iron Man.
Ghost steals the Iron Man technology for Justin Hammer, who in turn sold the information all over the place, which led to one of the most popular stories in the Iron Man lexicon, the “Armor Wars.”
Justin Hammer has consistently worked with Iron Man foes in the shadows, secretly being the reason why so many of them are armed to the teeth with dangerous technology. Justin Hammer was created as a way to show the readers what Tony Stark could become if he never kept his power in check and continued supplying weapons to the world instead of ridding the world of them.
Although Justin Hammer never can match Iron man from a combat perspective, they are essentially two sides of the same coin in their business world, making their relationship an interesting and complex one.
With a name like Living Laser, you’ve got a lot to live up to when it comes to being a supervillain. He dates back all the way to 1966 in The Avengers #34 and has been a consistent threat to Tony Stark throughout the years. Living Laser goes by the name of Arthur Parks, who was a scientist that created wrist-mounted lasers.
He would use these to commit various criminal acts, but slowly, his dangerous ways grew until he actually became a being of pure energy. At one point, he becomes so dangerous that Iron Man has no choice but to jettison him into space, where he apparently dies.
Living Laser would not be gone for long, though, as his ascension to pure energy made him almost immortal. He is incredibly powerful and has attacked Iron Man on more than one occasion and even caused him to have a heart attack by destroying Tony’s Arc reactor that powers his heart.
Despite Living Laser being pent up in an energy chamber by James Rhodes, Iron Man’s closest ally, and being dispersed across the galaxy, he has remained a consistent threat to Iron Man to this day.
Madame Masque is an incredibly unique villain in the Iron Man lengthy lexicon of supervillains. She isn’t very super at all, actually, as Whitney Frost, the daughter of another Iron Man foe Count Nefaria is nothing more than a very smart woman with a ton of firepower and the manpower of the Maggia Crime Organization at her back.
She initially becomes rivals with Iron Man when she takes over as “Big M’ which, is the leader of the Nefaria family. She has clashed with Tony Stark both corporately and physically on many occasions and harbors a deep hatred for him following a brutal injury that scarred her face after a raid on Stark industry.
Despite that, Tony shows her sympathy, not knowing who she initially is, and the two start a relationship even after finding out about their true identities. Eventually, though, Madame Masque is forced to choose between her father and who is dying, and Tony and goes insane during the fight. This leads to her creating clones of herself, which starts her spiral into full-blown super-villainy.
Throughout the years, Madame Masque has frequently been an enemy as well as an ally to Iron Man and his friends. She frequently wrestles with morals but always finds herself falling back into her criminal ways, making her one of the most tragic Iron Man villains around.
See also: Invincible Characters Guide
Although he’s generally seen as Spider Man’s number one foe, Norman has clashed with Tony Stark on a personal level. At one point, he created armor based on Iron Man’s suit and leads the Dark Avengers as the Iron Patriot. Iron Man doesn’t allow this to go on for long as the two have a showdown, with Iron Man being aided by Captain America to put an end to the Iron Patriot and the Dark Avengers.
Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger
When it comes to fighting Iron Man, most of the time, the villains are simply outmatched physically due to the incredible tech that Tony Stark has built. Obadiah Stane is a unique villain because he uses his business acumen to seize hold over Stark International and, with it, gains control of the technology that Tony uses to become Iron Man.
The result is Iron Monger, a massive version of the Iron Man suit that has all the powers that Iron Man has, only bigger. Obadiah Stane would try to use the suit in order to become the most dangerous force in the world, but just like in the first Iron Man movie, he was beaten at his own game, dying in the suit that he thought would change everything for him.
After Obadiah Stane, there would be several more Iron Mongers who would try and take the torch and run with it, but few clashed both professionally and in the superhero world like Tony Stark and Obadiah Stane.
Okay, so the name isn’t the coolest, but few Iron Man villains have been around longer and had more iterations than Spymaster. Spymaster made his first appearance in 1971 in Iron Man #33 and initially jumped on the scene as a mercenary spy. Multiple people have donned the Spymaster garb, and some have died without even having their identities revealed.
Spymaster has fought Ironman on many occasions, often under the direction of Justin Hammer, but on occasion, he works to defeat some of Iron Man’s biggest foes, such as another freelancer, Ghost.
Spymaster has no real powers, but he is incredibly savvy and a fantastic fighter in martial arts as well as boxing, leading some to believe he was a boxer before joining the mercenary lifestyle. He is often armed with powerful technology from Justin Hammer, making him more formidable than his initial disposition would suggest.
Spymaster may not be the most powerful villain in the Iron Man rogues gallery, but he does have the unique distinction of being the one who had a key part in the death of Tony Stark’s best friend, Happy Hogan.
While using Happy in a ploy to lure Iron Man out, Happy attacks Spymaster and launches both of them off the building, dying in the process. Spymaster survived temporarily before apparently dying while trying to escape an escort to a prison.
The Mandarin is, without a doubt, the most dangerous foe that Iron Man has ever faced. While most of Tony’s opponents are of the scientific horror variety, The Mandarin is a terrorist armed with magic. Powered by the Ten Rings of Power, The Mandarin discover these mystical objects by finding a crashed alien ship and taking the rings from the pilots.
They grant him absurd abilities like elemental control, disintegration, and the ability to control others’ minds. Along with his otherworldly power, The Mandarin is also a master martial artist and genius scientist. He is violently obsessed with Iron Man, putting the two of them on a collision course many times throughout the years.
The Mandarin frequently looks to turn the weapons of various nations against themselves, and this leads him to stealing and sabotaging weaponry created by none other than Tony Stark. The Mandarin frequently pits Iron Man against China’s army so that he can be rid of them both.
The Mandarin has thwarted death on many occasions, being able to transfer his consciousness into the Ten Rings of Power themselves, and because of this, he’s never been fully defeated. The Mandarin is incredibly dangerous but lives by a set code, which he never wavers from. Iron Man has also done battle with The Mandarin’s son, Temujin, throughout the years as well.
In the comics, whenever a hero of international significance came about, a country that the USA was at war with would always try to come up with a counterpunch to that hero. Captain America saw multiple iterations of this and his co-captain of The Avengers, Iron Man, is no different.
Titanium Man has been one of Iron Man’s fiercest rivals over the years. The technology is actually superior to that of Iron Man, making it an almost indestructible duel.
There have been multiple pilots of Titanium Man throughout the years, but the most famous one is Boris Bullski, who conceived the idea to drive up propaganda against the USA by defeating Iron Man on national TV.
His initial duel went very poorly as Tony Stark’s intelligence outdid any superior technology at play, so Boris sought out a rematch, increasing both the power and size of his suit. He lost the rematch as well but has since combined forces with another villain on this list Crimson Dynamo, and killed a longtime friend of Tony Stark, Janice Cord, in the process.
Iron Man often pities Titanium Man, refusing to deal with the killing blow on multiple occasions. Titanium Man would go on to become a mercenary, occasionally moonlighting as a hero on a few occasions.
The Controller is similar to Tony Stark in many ways, as he’s also an electro mechanical scientist. His research was too dangerous though and his lack of adhering to ethics got him ousted from the science community. During a lab explosion, Basil Sandhurst was crippled while working with his brother and the result crippled him.
His brother, feeling responsible for it all, created an incredibly strong exoskeleton powered by physics energy. The result created an enemy of incredible power with the ability to fly, use telepathy, mind control and launch mental force projectiles.
Iron Man has faced off against The Controller on several occasions, with the most notable one happening during The Controller’s plot to invade and enslave New York City.
The Controller has had many showdowns with Iron Man, slowly increasing his abilities after each battle and has managed to prove a difficult foe on many occasions, though he hasn’t yet been able to defeat him.
Iron Man traditionally has faired pretty well against human supervillains, but that’s not the case when it comes to AI-controlled ones. Enter Ultron, one of the most powerful and dangerous beings in the world. Ultron was created by Hank Pym, aka the original Ant-Man using his brainpower as the frame for Ultron’s AI.
Soon after, this plan went horribly wrong, and Ultron learned to upgrade himself and assimilate any technology he could get his hands on.
Ultron has come up against Iron Man on many occasions, with Ultron trying to control Iron Man’s armor many times and successfully doing it to kill innocent people, including Lindy Reynolds, the wife of Avenger Sentry, which sent the most powerful Avenger into a blind rage where he nearly ripped Ultron’s head off.
Ultron has had some incredibly strange plots throughout the years, and many of them directly oppose Iron Man. One of the most dangerous ones was the Ultron Agenda, whose story arc had him planning to merge robots and humans after he fused his body with Hank Pym’s.
Ultron is essentially unkillable, and despite having his body annihilated on many occasions, his consciousness is impossible to delete, and he has survived through the abscesses of space as nothing more than radio waves.
Not one to be outdone by his deceased father, the son of Obadiah Stane, Zeke became more fearsome than Obi ever dreamed of. He is an expert in Bio weaponry and took over for his father in the manufacturing of weapons for both terrorists and supervillains alike.
The creator and writer of Zeke, Matt Fraction, made him to be the successor to Iron Man, but Zeke took the direct opposite direction and became one of the most fearsome supervillains that Iron Man has faced. Zeke, unlike Tony Stark, doesn’t need a suit in order to be destructive.
He has his body infused with technology that turns him into a living god of sorts, utilizing energy that he uses for several horrific purposes.
Zeke is one of the newer Iron Man villains, making his presence first known in 2008, but his actions have matched some of the worst that any comic book villain has ever achieved. Using biotech, he created suicide bombers to attack a party of innocent people but not before murdering the board of directors from his company with energy blasts from his bare hands.
He then went on a warpath destroying Stark Technologies around the world through the use of his suicide bombers. Zeke soon was defeated by Iron Man in hand-to-hand combat after Tony disabled both their suits, leading Zeke to a slow turn towards the side of good.
Question: Who is Iron Man’s Best Villain?
Answer: The Mandarin has proven to be Iron Man’s most dangerous foe throughout the years wielding a terrifying amount of power. His motivations constantly cause him and Iron Man to clash, and his son has taken up the fight against Tony Stark as well.
Question: Is Iron Man Alive in the Comics?
Answer: Technically, yes, but it’s a remade version as the original Tony Stark died fighting Captain America as reality ended. The new Marvel Universe was created as a replica by Doctor Doom, but that is technically a new version of the same heroes. Not confusing at all, right?
Question: Have Other People Worn the Iron Man Armor?
Answer: The Iron Man armor has been worn by many people other than Tony Stark, with such notable names as Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, and eventually even Doctor Doom managing to find their way into the armor at some point.
Iron Man is one of the best superheroes out there, and part of what makes him so great is his awesome group of villains that he contends with.
What makes them even more interesting is that they occasionally fight against each other too or even help each other to become more powerful and the link throughout them all is a fascinating bit of continuity that manages to make sense despite all the complexities that comic book stories can sometimes hold.