Let’s revisit how the character is, in some ways, the chief villain of the MCU. Tony Stark also created a lot of his own problems in the MCU
“The only thing that [Iron Man] really fights for is himself,” Captain points out. Tony Stark may deny it at times in the MCU. But consider how many villains Iron Man encountered were a direct result of the hero’s own actions or inaction.
The three main villains in the Iron Man trilogy – War-Monger, Whiplash, and Aldrich Killian – represent dark versions of Stark. And Tony or his father created situations leading them to evil. In the two MCU Spider-Man films, both Vulture and Mysterio have no beef with Webslinger but Iron Man himself.
And then, there’s Ultron. Stark himself created this bloodthirsty robot. For the sake of protecting the world, he tore it up indirectly. The Avengers’ rescue effort in Sokovia also inadvertently killed Helmut Zemo’s family. This terrible secret derailed the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War and left Earth vulnerable to Thanos in the process.
We’re not even going to come on the fact that Tony Stark’s company, Stark Industries, has decades of experience building deadly weapons. Rather, it’s the impact Stark makes throughout the MCU that makes it clear he is low-key as much a villain as he is a hero.
Everywhere he goes, Iron Man — especially prior to his commitment to the Avengers — inspires others to seek vengeance for how he wronged them. He’s a character whose curiosity, arrogance, and ego inform his every move. Well, most of the time. And fans need to reckon with his most significant failures.
No matter how integral Downey’s performance is to the MCU as a whole, some viewers might have missed the fact that Iron Man is far from the wholesome hero so many people seem to want him to be. In fact, he very well might be both the greatest MCU hero and its most accomplished villain.