?In his 40-odd years of heroing, Iron Man has faced off with hundreds of opponents — from Commies to capitalists to corporate spies. But just as Spider-Man has fought an inordinately large number of villains dressed as animals, the high-tech hero has fought dozens upon dozens of science-based foes, many of which can go toe-to-toe, and circuit-to-circuit with ol’ Shellhead.
Please note: this list is not counting the heroes he’s clashed with (Hulk, War Machine) and definitely not counting his occasional sparring partner Doctor Doom (because he’s everybody‘s greatest foe). With that caveat, these are the 10 standout technology-based bad guys of Iron Man’s career. Warning: List does not contain The Unicorn, so I don’t want to get any letters.
10) Crimson Dynamo
?First order of business when creating a comic book hero in the 1960s? Create a Soviet counterpart. Not only does he have one of the awesomest names in comic books, he’s a card-carrying member of the Communist party, which may have made him evil back in the day, but is now awesomely old-school. A tool of the Soviet state, his armor later incorporated stolen Stark technology, forcing Iron Man to hunt him down and deactivate him, but since he was a tool of the state there was a line of replacement Soviet pilots wrapped around the block. Maybe they thought it was the line for bread?
9) Titanium Man
?The other Soviet in shining armor, the Titanium Man was more than just a green Crimson Dynamo — he was a big, green Crimson Dynamo. He was so big that the original pilot, Boris Bullski, was injected with growth hormones so he would be big enough to control it. Improvements were made, of course, including a coating that repelled Iron Man’s repulsor rays, and the armor was later modified so it could be piloted by the insane dwarf genius called the Gremlin. Unfortunately, it was not also modified to be not made of titanium, which, once ignited, cannot be extinguished, leading to a crispy end for the Gremlin.
?He’s the master. Of spies. That’s one hell of a claim, and probably not one a lot of spies would make, given that they’d probably be concerned about blowing their cover. But if James Bond can introduce himself to every bad guy under the sun, then I guess Spymaster can infiltrate a facility in a yellow-and-blue jumpsuit with a picture of a knife on his chest. (Sure, more recent incarnations have worn more stealthy outfits, but none that cool.) Ironically, the original Spymaster didn’t even carry a knife, but he did have razor discs, boot jets, incendiary missiles and a remote-control hovercraft. Hey, Bond — suck it.
7) The Ghost
?Spymaster may have flaunted his flashy “spy” costume, but his fellow techno-thief The
Ghost preferred to avoid detection by becoming invisible and intangible through the use of various technologies in his suit. But he was far from immaterial (see what I did there?), as his brilliant intellect and hatred of corporations led him to wage freelance wars on various tech companies, and to pull no punches with Iron Man whenever he got in his way. Now one of the dubiously heroic Thunderbolts, and having shifted his hatred from Tony Stark to Norman Osborne, the Ghost is still a pretty scary dude.
6) Justin Hammer
?While illegitimate businessman Hammer preferred a nice fur-trimmed robe to a suit of armor, it was his technicians who developed the hypersonic scan technique that allowed him to bypass the refractory coating on Iron Man’s armor, causing it to malfunction at inopportune times including that time Iron Man blew a hole in the chest of the Carnelian ambassador to the U.N. He also provided tech support and financial backing to a number of armored criminals in exchange for a cut of their profits, and later outfitted a number of them with stolen Iron Man technology, triggering the first Armor Wars. Sadly, his final scheme was to make Tony Stark moody, after which he was frozen and set adrift in space. Please, Hammer — don’t burn up on re-entry.
5) Ezekiel Stane
?Clearly unable to overcome the trauma of having been named “Ezekiel,” Zeke took his revenge on the man he thought murdered his father by stealing Stark technology left and right, turning terrorists into human bombs and putting the rest of it inside himself, making himself a human weapon. When he launched an all-out attack on Stark holdings worldwide, Stark had to trigger an electromagnetic pulse in order to kick Zeke’s ass the old-fashioned way.
?Not only did the scientists at Advanced Idea Mechanics take over an island nation and contaminate one of Stark’s satellites, they also created the Cosmic Cube, the Super-Adaptoid, and the Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing. MODOC later swapped “Computing” for “Killing” and became MODOK, a being so fiendishly hysterical that even its assassination by a team of snake-themed assassins couldn’t keep it from becoming a cult icon. AIM has also apparently developed the technology to see out of their giant, eraser-shaped helmets.
?He’s led a religion from atop a suit of Iron Man armor, he’s wiped out an entire nation and he’s tried to kill all of the Avengers a dozen times over, but Ultron’s greatest success story is arguably that he once took over Tony Stark’s circuitry-laced body, turned him into a sexy naked woman and attacked New York. (It helps when your greatest success story is illustrated by Frank Cho.)
2) Obadiah Stane
?A master strategist, businessman Stane was a weapons manufacturer who set his sights on Stark International and ultimately took it over, through a mix of espionage, corporate maneuvering and a team of gaudily dressed chess-themed techno-thugs. Using Stark’s discarded notes, he built himsef a suit of Iron Monger armor that was more powerful than the Iron Man armor, requiring Stark to undergo a total upgrade in order to defeat him. Then, defeated, he blew his own head off, thereby depriving Stark of the satisfaction of prosecution, and saving himself the pain of eventually being frozen and set adrift in space, or something similarly embarrassing.
1) The Mandarin
?Not only does the Mandarin wield ten different rings of power, each with a different ability — fire, ice, wind, impact, electricity, disintegration, white light, black light, mind control and matter control — he got said rings by killing an alien dragon. (Try that one, Hal Jordan.) With his stolen alien technology, the Mandarin basically became warlord of China and menaced Iron Man on a regular basis, controlling ancient robot Ultimo, giant dragon Fin Fang Foom and occasionally letting ten of his underlings wear the rings and fight IM for his amusement. Sure, having magic rings means that your hands are constant targets — he’s had to have them replaced a few times — but he temporarily solved that problem by having the rings burned into his spine, which is where they were when he attempted to kill most of the Earth’s population with the Extremis virus. Do not mess with a man who wears back jewelry.