Tony Stark is a billionaire, playboy, genius, philanthropist. He is of course also Iron Man. Stark’s story kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so he’s been in the most movies. However, this also means he’s had more chances to screw up, and Tony Stark is really good at screwing up. For one of the smartest superheroes of all time, Tony has made some really stupid, hurtful choices throughout the MCU. No one is safe from his ego including his girlfriend Pepper, best friend Rhodey or his teammates The Avengers.
Generally it’s Tony’s ego that gets him in the most trouble. He’s basically an arrogant, trust fund kid who happens to be a genius, so all those things mixed together have given him a ridiculous sense of privilege. Add being a superhero to that and it’s really a recipe for how to make a jerk. Fortunately, Tony is surrounded by good people who keep him from giving into the absolute worst parts of his personality. Though Tony always has good intentions, his first idea isn’t always his best, so here are his worst moments from the MCU…so far. You know he’s totally going to mess up again in Avengers: Infinity War.
15. SIDING WITH THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE TEAM
Look, there’s plenty of blame to going around in Civil War. Neither Tony nor Cap makes good choices, but right now, let’s just talk about Tony. After Scarlet Witch’s accident kills Wakandan relief workers, it’s decided The Avengers need oversight. Breaking character, Tony brings this to the rest of the team so they can figure out whether to sign the Sokovia accords.
Tony has to know right from the beginning that Steve is not going to sign, so maybe a compromise right from the start could have slowed things down and possibly avoided the coming battle. Later, as things became more intense, egos got out of hand and the fight couldn’t be stopped. Again, it’s not all Tony’s fault, but it definitely takes two to tango.
14. BLOWING OFF AND SETTING UP ALDRICH KILLIAN
Iron Man 3 starts with a flashback to the old womanizing, immature Tony. When he is approached by the overeager Aldrich Killian at a New Year’s Eve party, Tony tells the naive young scientist to go up to the roof and wait for him, knowing he has other plans and will never meet Killian.
In this low moment Killian nearly decides to jump off the roof, but heads in a different path, becoming an awful supervillain. Tony clearly recognized Killian’s distress, but chose to belittle him and send a depressed man to the roof. Really one of his lowest moments. Perhaps if he had taken five minutes to show Killian some compassion, things would have turned out different and the events of Iron Man 3 wouldn’t have happened.
13. CREATING ULTRON
At his core Tony Stark is a good guy, he just wants to save the world. It’s why he becomes Iron Man and helps found The Avengers in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes he goes about it in the wrong way. When Tony and Bruce create Ultron he does it so that more human life isn’t lost defending the planet from otherworldly threats. As part of his Ultron project he uses the stone from Loki’s scepter, an untested alien technology.
Seriously, is a weird alien stone that you know nothing about the best choice for an operating system? His genius often gives him a false sense of security when it comes to these situations. And since no one is smarter than him he sees no need to ever get a second opinion.
12. DISRESPECTING CAPTAIN AMERICA
One of Tony’s driving forces has always been his unresolved parental issues. He never felt like his father loved him and constantly carries around the regrets of his final conversation with them. When he finally meets Steve Rogers in The Avengers, he’s spent a lifetime listening to Howard Stark go on and on about Captain America. This overwhelming jealousy finally comes to a head (with a little help from the Mind Stone) when he confronts Cap and disrespects his abilities and his costume.
He’s extra mean in this moment, and it’s clearly all about proving he’s better than the guy his dad loved so much. Of course, they fight together in the next scene and Tony realizes he was wrong, with the two becoming close friends until Captain America: Civil War.
11. PICKING A FIGHT WITH THOR
While taking Loki back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, Tony, Cap and Natasha are confronted by a mysterious enemy who steals Loki from their grasp. This turns out to be Thor, who wants Loki to suffer Asgard justice. As usual, Tony takes no time to stop and think before charging in with witty insults and threats. Despite his technologically advanced suit, he’s facing a bigger, more powerful foe that he is unprepared to fight.
He holds his own for awhile but, ultimately Thor is winning. Tony never stopped to consider that Thor could be a powerful ally he was alienating. In fact he completely brushes off Steve when he tries to get him to stop and come up with a plan. If it wasn’t for Cap saving his butt, he probably would have lost the fight, Loki and the Tesseract.
10. HAVING PEPPER DISMISS HIS ONE NIGHT STAND
Poor Pepper Potts. Before she was Tony’s long suffering girlfriend, she was his long suffering assistant. She often performed duties that regular assistants would never consider doing. For example, in Iron Man she has to get rid of Tony’s one night stand, reporter Christine Everhart. Christine isn’t at her best in this moment, taking out her frustration on Pepper but, Pepper handles everything like a professional. This obviously isn’t her first time on morning after duty.
Later Tony asks her how it went, with a complete lack of understanding how humiliating it was to have her handle such a situation. This is just one example of what a horrible boss he actually is. Though he pays his employees well, he seems unaware or uncaring of how his selfish lifestyle affects those around him.
9. BEING A HORRIBLE MENTOR TO PETER
By the time Tony meets Peter Parker in Civil War he’s been through a few traumatic experiences. It seems like he’s finally matured enough to be more understanding and compassionate. Unfortunately, in Spider-Man: Homecoming this isn’t the case. Yes, Peter is young and inexperienced, and Tony is obviously busy but, any parent of a teenager will tell you that you need to check in every once in awhile so you can stay involved in their lives.
Tony pretty much ignores Peter to the point that he ends up putting himself and others in a dangerous situation. Maybe if Tony had actually returned one of Peter’s calls and showed that he was listening to him, Peter would not have gotten into trouble on the Ferry. In the end Tony does realize Peter’s potential and validates all his hard work, but a little more attention could have prevented a long painful journey.
8. THROWING A DRUNKEN TANTRUM
Finding out that you’re dying a slow, painful death is enough to send anyone into a self destructive spiral. On your last birthday, you would definitely get drunk and have the party to end all parties. What you wouldn’t do is get drunk and use your advanced weaponry to destroy your house while it’s full of innocent partygoers.
Of course, if you’re Tony Stark that’s exactly what you do. Things get so bad that Rhodey, who doesn’t know he’s dying, has to step in and stop him from hurting himself and others. This results in a huge battle of Iron Man suits, accompanied by hurtful insults at his best friend. Once again, Tony ends up saving the day and everyone forgives him, but just once it would be nice if there were some consequences.
7. ARBITRARILY STOPPING THE SALE OF WEAPONS
After his escape from terrorists in Iron Man, Tony is understandably shaken and wants to make some serious life changes. First on his list is his plan to immediately stop making weapons. While a noble goal, it’s incredibly selfish. Stark Industries is a billion dollar company with thousands of employees worldwide. When he makes the decision does Tony stop and think about any of those people? When Obadiah later tells him how the stock has dropped he is again unconcerned and just retreats into making his new suit while others save his company.
He probably could have done things in a more controlled, reasonable manner, that protected employees and shareholders, but as always Tony acts on emotion not rational thinking. It’s true this is what led to him becoming Iron Man, but there is real human fallout to this decision that we may never know about.
6. BECOMING OBSESSED WITH HIS SUITS
Following the battle of New York in The Avengers, Tony is traumatized. His trip through the portal still haunts him, and he displays some serious symptoms of PTSD. The byproduct of this is he develops an obsession with protecting himself and the love of his life, Pepper. To that end, he builds multiple suits and becomes obsessed with them. We’re not here to bash how he handles his emotional trauma, but Tony didn’t exactly start from the most stable place.
His obsession takes over every aspect of his life causing a rift with Pepper, leaving the door open for Killian. Perhaps if he had dealt with his emotions better and been more focused Pepper and the President wouldn’t have been kidnapped and Killian’s plan wouldn’t have almost worked.
5. DRIVING IN THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
In Iron Man 2 Tony finds out that the palladium in his arc reactor is actually killing him. This revelation sets him on a self destructive path. After a bad test result he impulsively decides to drive the Stark Industries car in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Formula One drivers train their whole lives to control machines travelling at speeds in excess of 200 mph. Even by comic book movie standards it’s unrealistic to think that he could just jump in a car and compete with professional drivers on one of the most famous courses in motorsports. More importantly, it’s extremely dangerous to the other drivers and the spectators to make such a impulsive, cavalier decision. Because, who you want behind the wheel of a race car is someone who thinks they have nothing to live for.
4. USING HIS UNTESTED SUIT TO FIGHT TERRORISTS
Everyone loves the moment that Tony finally suits up, heads to Gulmira to save the village and gets revenge on the Ten Rings. He flies in saves the day and blows up all the bad guy’s missiles. However, there’s a reason the military will put new weapon systems through extensive testing before it’s rolled out for regular use. Because, anything can go wrong.
Let’s be honest, Tony got lucky that he went in and saved everyone without any complications. Of course later his encounter with the Air Force does lead to a destroyed jet and an ejected pilot, so there were some complications. Finding out that Obadiah had betrayed him and that his weapons were still being used by terrorists set him into another emotional tailspin, where instead of figuring out a way to stop things legally, he runs in guns blazing.
3. NOT TELLING PEPPER AND RHODEY HE’S DYING
Impending death causes people to make crazy decisions. In Iron Man 2, Tony begins putting his affairs in order, but he skips the most important one by telling his closest friends that he’s actually dying. The whole time he’s fighting with Rhodey and trying to express his feelings to Pepper, why not just tell them the truth and get some support from his family? Yes, Rhodey finds out he’s sick, but he never really tells anyone the extent of his illness which once again highlights his many flaws.
Tony figures he can handle it on his own, completely ignoring how his death will affect everyone else. His inability to consult others, coupled with his tunnelvision leaves the door open for Justin Hammer and Vanko to distort his technology.
2. NOT DESTROYING ULTRON’S AI WHEN HE HAS THE CHANCE
Tony makes an endless amount of mistakes in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Late in the movie, when it seems like all the problems can be solved, he chooses to double down on his earlier stupidity of creating Ultron and not destroy Ultron’s AI creation when he has a chance. The team manages to get the new AI back from Ultron and just when Bruce wants to delete the programming and destroy the body, Tony says they should own up to being mad scientists, putting Jarvis in the body, which eventually leads to the creation of The Vision.
He could end up creating something even worse than Ultron, but he never even takes a second to stop and think things through. They’re literally trying to save the world from one of his out of control robots and he decides to roll the dice on another unknown creation.
1. DESTROYING SOKOVIA
In Age of Ultron The Avengers are faced with a sad choice, save Sokovia or save the rest of the planet. The numbers point to saving the Earth and destroying Sokovia. At first the team is prepared to sacrifice themselves to save everyone else, but Nick Fury shows up for the save.
Tony is the one who actually comes up with the plan to destroy Sokovia, this doesn’t make it his fault but it was his creation of Ultron that led to the whole dire situation so he carries the brunt of the blame. In Civil War, it is his guilt over Sokovia that leads to a whole new set of problems, proving that most of The Avengers troubles will lead back to a bad Tony Stark decision.
Which of these is the worst to you? Let us know in the comments!
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