Within recent years especially, Iron Man has solidified his place as one of the world’s most popular superheroes. Though the character isn’t the most morally righteous, especially in comparison to Captain America, he can almost always be counted on to do the right thing. Despite this, Tony has been known to stray into some darker territory from time to time, even going so far that he could even be considered a villain.
Though he almost always bounces back, it doesn’t change the fact that the character has done some very morally ambiguous stuff. To look into some of the darker moments in the character’s history, here is our list of 10 morally questionable things Iron Man has done in the comics.
10 Almost Everything in Civil War
Marvel’s Civil War saw one of the biggest hero vs hero fights in comics to date. Following the introduction of the Superhero Registration Act, Marvel’s biggest names begin to take sides with Iron Man, who supported the act, or Captain America, who was against it. While each side had their own strong reasonings, Tony certainly crossed the line several times throughout the series.
Not only was supporting the act morally questionable itself, but he would then send supervillains after Spider-Man after the web-head switched sides. Furthermore, it was also revealed that Tony had tried to recreate Thor using a programmed robot. Though the results of his actions had dire consequences that he himself wasn’t exactly responsible for, the entire story sees Tony acting more like a villain than anything else.
9 Attack Ulysses
While Civil War saw Tony more so as the villain, he definitely had a much stronger argument in Civil War II. After a new Inhuman, Ulysses, emerges with the power to predict the future, Tony is against the idea of using the young man to stop crimes before they happen. The entire plot is very Minority Report (2002), but Tony at least had a better argument than he did in the first Civil War.
Regardless, Tony still contemplated hurting the young boy, believing him to be too dangerous to be regularly involved. After he broke into Ulysses's bedroom, he is eventually interrupted by Medusa, who stops him from taking things too far. Though Tony didn’t actually do anything to hurt the young man, the fact that he considered it is a very morally questionable moment for the character.
8 Work for Kang the Conqueror
For a while, Tony Stark actually seemed to be deteriorating mentally. Eventually, though, it was revealed that the hero had actually started working for Kang the Conqueror. Not only was this reveal a rather big (and unwelcome surprise), but this event would also lead to Tony’s demise shortly after.
With such strong negative backlash towards this story, Marvel was fairly quick to rectify it. Using the equally unpopular Heroes Reborn relaunch, they managed to find a way to restore Tony’s place in the Marvel universe. Despite the odd nature of the story in general though, it is still a very morally gray part of his history.
7 Sent Hulk to Space
Kicking off the Planet Hulk storyline, readers come to learn that Tony and other members of the Avengers had deemed Hulk too dangerous to be kept on Earth. So, instead of looking for a better solution, they decided to ship him to a distant planet against his will. Though this action was morally ambiguous enough in its own right, that not even the most questionable thing about the story.
Later on, the rocket that Hulk was on explodes, revealing that Hulk’s former teammates and friends had planned to kill him. Though Hulk had thankfully survived, this act is still one of the most insanely questionable things Tony has ever done.
6 Demon in a Bottle
Part of the fun of comics is seeing larger-than-life characters struggle with very human issues. While Demon in a Bottle is one of the most celebrated Iron Man stories ever, it is still a very low point in the character’s history.
Focusing mostly on Tony’s alcohol abuse, Demon in a Bottle highlights how the hero overcomes his issue, rising above a personal challenge rather than an external, physical threat that can be punched. Though Tony himself did succeed in the end in a way that makes the story one of the greats, he really took things too far when he killed an ambassador. Despite the quality of the story, it still features one of the hero's most morally ambiguous actions.
5 Continue to Develop Weapons
One thing that Tony has done both in the movies and comics is continue to develop weapons after being captured by terrorists. Though he now uses those weapons to help rather than hurt, it isn’t the strongest moral argument for the character.
Granted, Tony has developed all sorts of other technologies that have helped humanity move forward. However, at the end of the day, the Iron Man armor is still arguably the most powerful weapon on Marvel’s Earth. Despite being one of the most respected heroes in the universe, this is one thing that still doesn’t quite make sense from a moral standpoint.
Alongside other incredibly smart characters, Tony Stark helped form Marvel’s Illuminati. The purpose of the group was to get some of the smartest heroes together to figure out ways to deal with threats in the long term. However, the group eventually grew to be one of the more morally questionable organizations, arguably even more sketchy than S.H.I.E.L.D.
Though they had the best intentions in mind, the whole group made some very questionable decisions, resulting in some unfortunate results for many characters over the years. No matter how much good they hoped to get out of the group, it is still one of the most questionable things Tony has involved himself in.
3 Superior Iron Man
Following the events of Marvel’s AXIS storyline, Tony Stark was even more of a jerk than he usually is. Thanks to the changes made to his personality, Tony was posing as himself, though he was acting with evil intentions.
With this persona, Tony continued to make advances in technology, though entirely for personal gain. For example, after releasing Extremis 3.0 to the public, Tony then charged users $100 a day to continue using it. Though the entire story was completely ridiculous at times, it is still one of the worst things the character has done. Thankfully, it didn’t last terribly long, and Tony was soon back to his old self.
2 Encourage a Young Girl to Take His Place
Following Tony’s disappearance in Civil War II, Riri Williams actually took on the mantle of Iron Man. Under the codename Ironheart, Riri designed her own suit and fought evil with an A.I. that was gifted to her by Tony himself. However, while Riri succeeded in making a name for herself, the fact that Tony encouraged someone so young to do something so dangerous is a bit morally ambiguous.
While plenty of heroes in comics have been very young, Tony has often been outspoken against inexperienced people with so much power being let loose in the world (i.e. everything he warned against in Civil War). Therefore, encouraging Riri is not only a bit hypocritical, but also a moral question from the hero’s own point of view.
1 Taken Over The World
For as smart as Tony is, he has always used his brain to help people, despite is often rude personality. However, in an alternate reality, readers get a glimpse of exactly what Tony is capable of, and just how powerful he could be if he wanted to. In one of the Exiles storylines, Iron Man is revealed to have actually taken over the world.
To accomplish such a feat though, Iron Man explains that he orchestrated a massive war between mutants and humanity, using the chaos to gain more and more power. Though this thankfully isn’t the main version of the character, it is easily one of the worst things that “Tony Stark” has accomplished in the comics.