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Best Iron Man villains

Best Iron Man villains
Best Iron Man villains (Image credit: Alex Ross (Marvel Comics))

Iron Man's time in the MCU may be over, but there might still be room for some of Marvel's best Iron Man villains as the Armored Avenger's legacy will live on in the Disney Plus streaming series Armor Wars, which looks like a 2023 proposition at this stage. 

And that's not even mentioning one of Iron Man's most iconic foes, the Mandarin, who got an MCU do-over despite Tony Stark's Avengers: Endgame death. The Mandarin made his debut in 2021's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, with a new portrayal more in line with his villainous comic book roots than the version in Iron Man 3. Though he also met his death in that film as well. 

And, of course, Iron Man's time in the Marvel Comic book universe will likely never expire, no matter how many changes the publisher puts him through. Meaning Iron Man's greatest foes have many more years of making life difficult for Tony Stark. 

So now's as good a time as ever to the best Iron Man villains of all time.

10. Ghost

Ghost

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The enigmatic corporate spy known as Ghost was originally an engineer who developed intangibility — which he turned into a weapon when the corporation he worked for betrayed him and killed his colleague.

Over the years, Ghost has menaced both Iron Man and Tony Stark time and time again as both a spy and a saboteur, and even as an attempted assassin while Stark lay in a coma after his nanotech-altered brain rebooted. 

Ghost later partially reformed as part of the Thunderbolts before returning to corporate sabotage to steal from Parker Industries.

In the MCU, Ghost was reimagined as an Ant-Man and the Wasp villain in that duo's 2018 film. 

9. Fin Fang Foom

9. Fin Fang Foom

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Though he looks like a dragon, the towering Fin Fang Foom is actually a shape-shifting Makluan alien, the same race that created the Mandarin's ten power rings. Leading a crew of invading Makluans, Foom led several attempts to conquer and subvert the Earth.

The threat of Fin Fang Foom and his fellow Makluans is so great that it has even led to Iron Man teaming up with the Mandarin. Though the original Fin Fang Foom has seemingly reformed after converting to Buddhism, several duplicates and impostors have resurfaced over the years, using Foom's legacy of villainy.

8. The Controller

The Controller

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Basil Sandhurst, the Controller, was a sickly child who used his childhood ailments as inspiration for his research into the human mind's potential. 

After discovering a way to turn psychic potential into physical strength, he also developed a method of using unsuspecting victims as mental batteries for his power.

Over the years, Controller has battled Iron Man countless times using a variety of mind control techniques beyond simply sapping the strength of his victims. 

He's also used his victims as armies of mindless slaves and has even teamed with Thanos to upgrade his powers using technology derived from Stark's own inventions.

7. AIM

AIM

(Image credit: Marvel)

The mad science collective known as Advanced Idea Mechanics has menaced multiple heroes throughout the Marvel Universe, but few so personally or as often as Iron Man. Bound by an obsession with power and super-science, AIM has often tried (and occasionally succeeded) in stealing and copying Stark's dangerous technology.

AIM's most dastardly schemes have included creating the terrifying being known as MODOK (pictured), constructing the reality-altering Cosmic Cube, and capturing Iron Man to analyze and replicate his armor.

For a little while, AIM stood for 'Avengers Idea Mechanics' when Sunspot took over their leadership - but the organization has since reverted to its evil mad scientist ways.

6. Titanium Man

Titanium Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The original Titanium Man was a gigantic suit of armor built by Soviet scientists working from the original Crimson Dynamo designs. 

Piloted by a Russian soldier named Boris Bullski, Titanium Man issued a challenge to Iron Man designed to shame the United States with Iron Man's defeat. However, Iron Man won the duel, and Bullski himself was shamed. 

Over the years, he has resurfaced time and time again, often with new, more powerful weapons both in the employ of his government and as a mercenary.

5. Zeke Stane

Zeke Stane

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Many villains have tried and occasionally succeeded in stealing or repurposing Tony Stark's technology, but few with such devastating effect as Zeke Stane, the son of Stark's longtime rival Obadiah Stane.

Using stolen repulsor technology, Zeke Stane was able to turn people into living bombs, causing numerous terrorist attacks throughout the world before eventually turning his own body into a living weapon, and decimating Stark's headquarters, nearly costing Pepper Potts her life.

4. Crimson Dynamo

Crimson Dynamo

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Numerous men have inhabited the various versions of the Crimson Dynamo armor, and some of them have even gone on to switch sides and join forces with Tony Stark. 

But as a concept, the Crimson Dynamo is one of Iron Man's most frequently recurring and difficult foes.

Originally conceived as a Soviet counter to Iron Man, the first Crimson Dynamo armor was based around magnetic field technology designed to counteract Stark's repulsor tech. 

Over the years, the Dynamo armor has evolved to incorporate more varied weapons and is more like a platform for various technologies and armaments, similar to the Iron Man armor itself.

3. Madame Masque

Madame Masque

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Madame Masque, AKA Whitney Frost, is the daughter of super-criminal Count Nefaria, one-time head of the Maggia crime organization and enemy of the Avengers and X-Men. 

And like her father, Madame Masque has leaned into a life of super-crime, primarily going up against Iron Man as a corporate saboteur and head of the Nefaria family. She takes her name from the iconic golden facemask that she wears, which once covered up facial scars that have since healed.

Though she has no powers, Madame Masque is a ruthless criminal mastermind with the firepower and organizational strength to challenge not just Iron Man, but often the entire Avengers - though she holds a special place in her hateful heart for Tony Stark.

2. Iron Monger

Iron Monger

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Though there have been a few Iron Mongers over the years, Obadiah Stane, the first and most effective, was an enemy of Tony Stark as much as Iron Man.

Stane ran Stane International, a corporate rival to Stark International, and used his analytical mind to manipulate Tony, eventually seizing control over Stark International and absorbing it into his own brand.

Once in control of Stark's company and technology, Stane built the Iron Monger armor and attempted to use it as a tool for world domination until Stark, in a newly-built Iron Man armor, confronted and defeated him.

Refusing to be beaten, Stane committed suicide with the Iron Monger armor's onboard weaponry.

Fans of the MCU will remember Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger as the villain of the first Iron Man movie played by Jeff Bridges.

1. Mandarin

Mandarin

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The Mandarin is unquestionably the best Iron Man villain of all time - his greatest foe. 

Armed with 10 rings powered by alien technology and capable of 10 different incredible powers (including disintegration and matter-rearrangement), Mandarin is the embodiment of everything Tony Stark opposes; power for its own sake, the strong feeding on the weak, and the subjugation and domination of the world.

The times that Mandarin has menaced Iron Man are numerous, and each time is devastating, but Mandarin most recently appeared as a central figure in Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca's celebrated run on Invincible Iron Man, manipulating numerous villains and even Stark himself in a plan to destroy the world — before being seemingly killed by Zeke Stane during his final conflict with Iron Man.

The Mandarin's rings later resurfaced, seeking out ten new individual wielders who teamed up to fight Iron Man. The Mandarin was later resurrected - though he was subsequently killed again by the Punisher.

An adaptation of the original comic book version of the Mandarin was the villain of the Marvel Studios film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, played by actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai.

George Marston
George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)