MCU: All 33 Marvel Cinematic Universe films ranked from worst to best

Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron..L to R: Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel 2015
Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron..L to R: Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel 2015 /
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18. Iron Man

It’s hard to imagine what the superhero landscape would look like today had Marvel Studios not released Iron Man all the way back in 2008. The first in what is now a 23-film saga, the film wasn’t tasked with setting up an entire shared universe of superheroes – it just had to introduce us to its primary superhero.

A darker tale than the two Iron Men sequels, the film used Tony Stark to highlight how one man can undergo an extreme character development upon realising the error of their ways – and that’s exactly what happened here. Upon witnessing how dangerous his technologically-advanced weapons could be if they fell into the wrong hands, Tony took it upon himself to use that technology to create something instead. And just like that, Iron Man was born.

We could go on about the strength of the script here, but it would be ridiculous to overlook the fact that the film’s greatest asset was undoubtedly Robert Downey Jr. The charismatic actor didn’t just play Tony Stark; he became him and, in doing so, set the standard immensely high for every hero that would follow him.

In spite of its compelling narrative, Iron Man kick-starts that Tony Stark tradition of not taking itself too seriously and thus, it’s also a whole lot of superhero fun – highlighting that Marvel had found the perfect formula for their empire.