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Ten Deep 5.06.10: The Top Ten Iron Man Villains
Posted by Mike Gorman on 05.06.2010

" The Top Ten Iron Man Villains"

The armored hero Iron Man has faced a wide variety of villains in his storied career but which ten are his best adversaries? I can tell you that at this point, Whiplash would not be a name that jumped to the top of my list. Will he make a great movie villain? Maybe, he looks wild and out of control, two things that we know Mickey Rourke can pull off. Yet I am not convinced he is enough of a real threat to warrant the spotlight. Early press about the film seemed to apply that this version of Whiplash would also contain elements of the back story of another Iron Man rogue, the Crimson Dynamo. Can two middle tier characters combine to create the strength of character needed to carry a blockbuster? I guess we will see soon!

In the meantime I dug into my comic book collection and selected the ten comic characters who are in my opinion the best villains for the red and gold warrior. Each may not be the most physically powerful threats that Tony Stark has faced in his time in the armor but they do possess individual characteristics that make them the most interesting of his rogue gallery.

10. The Ghost

While he's not the most well known of Iron Man's foes, the Ghost is a great adversary for businessman Tony Stark. Described as a freelance industrial saboteur, the true identity of the Ghost is unknown. Instead he claims to be a former business man who saw the problems within the world of his success and since creating his Ghost costume has striven to take down business empires. His suit allows him to become invisible and intangible but not both at the same time. He can also manipulate computers with the technology of the suit. This makes him a perfect foil for Iron Man and his dependence on technology and industry.

9. Count Nefaria

There has been a long standing "Mafia" counterpart in the Marvel U given the witty name the "Maggia." One of the well known crimelords in this "family" orientated business is Count Nefaria. He appeared first as a non-powered leader who hired super powered goons to take on the Avengers and Iron Man. During one of his schemes he turned the tables on his employees and stole their amplified abilities becoming the immortal yet not quite indestructible being pictured above. I can tell you're not that impressed by his selection. He is however on this list for a very important reason. He would be the focus of a first film, that allowed for another villain to appear in the second. You'll see her at #5.


Though he may have fought many of the Marvel Universe's greatest heroes during his time on the scene, MODOK (Short for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing BTW) is a lot more than just a giant creepy head with tiny arms and legs. He was created by the group of scientists bent on world domination known as AIM. In his human form, MODOK was an AIM technician who was mutated by his AIM bosses and soon turned on them, taking control. The dark nature of MODOK's origins and the world wide scope of AIM make them great foes for Iron Man as an individual hero standing against their horde.

7. Titanium Man

Meant to be a cold war opposite for Iron Man, the Titanium Man is a former KGB agent who wanted to get back into the good graces of his leaders and came up with the perfect plan for doing so. He commissioned a group of scientists to create a suit of armor that would give the Soviet Union their own armored hero. The Titanium Man saw Iron Man as a representative of the capitalistic nature of the United States and wanted to serve as an icon for his own nation. Appearing often over the years, the original Titanium Man has a backstory that fit in very well with Tony Stark's origins. With there being elements of the Crimson Dynamo's story being placed into the second film, perhaps an appearance by the Titanium Man is not out of question for the future as these characters were linked in their early stories.

6. Ultron

Ultron may be the primary adversary of the Avenger's Hank Pym but he recently cemented his position on Iron Man's rogues list. You ask how he did this? He turned Iron Man into a woman of course. WHAT? Yes, it happened. Ultron utilized the techno organic virus (for lack of a better description) within Tony Stark's body to re-configure his physical structure into a new form for Ultron's consciousness; specifically he was turned into a replica of Ultron's "mother" the Wasp. The Avengers eventually took Ultron down and restored Stark's body to its natural form. Will Iron Man ever get over the experience of having his manhood taken away, literally? I don't know, but it was a damn good story.

5. Madame Masque

Madame Masque is one hot chick with a gun and a golden mask. She is also the daughter of the aforementioned Count Nefaria. She first appeared on the scene when she attempted to reverse the effects of his super power process that left him vulnerable and fragile. She blamed Tony Stark and the Avengers for her father's condition and soon developed into a villainess with a vendetta. One that she would often attempt to fulfill against Iron Man. What makes her truly great is that she not only attempted to defeat Tony but she also successfully seduced him. She gave new meaning to the term "femme fatale."

4. The Hulk

The Hulk and Iron Man have fought many times over the years and their battles are often epic. Their pairing led to the creation of one of Iron Man's coolest alternate armors, the Hulkbuster suit. It is big bulky and kicks ass. Iron Man took a new tactic against the Hulk recently when he and the other members of the superhero group, the Illuminati (All of Marvel's big brains got together and decided they knew best. Yes, it worked out well of course. Not.), decided to launch the Hulk into an alternate dimension because they felt there were no other options when it came to his rampages. The Hulk ended up on a battle planet where he fought his way to the throne and found love, which was eventually ripped away when a bomb destroyed the planet. Believing Stark and his ilk guilt the Hulk returned to Earth and nearly destroyed the planet. The animosity between these two characters will mining ground for great stories for years to come.

3. Fin Fang Foom

Go ahead and laugh. Yes, Fin Fang Foom is often portrayed as one of the most ridiculous characters in the Marvel Universe. He is a dragon that sometimes wears purple shorts. That is hilarious but what if he were taken seriously. A supremely powerful slumbering dragon awoken by a world not ready to face his wrath would make for a great battle with Iron Man. In this instance we would see some nice replication of old school dragon stories where the knight in shining armor defends the citizens of his home. I think this would be spectacular to see not only in comic form but on the big screen.

2. The Mandarin

One might think that the Mandarin is on this list because he has all but been announced as the villain for an upcoming Iron Man film but that is not why he is here. Sure, his appearance was foreshadowed in the first film and may be echoed in tomorrow's release, but the character itself earns such a high spot on this list. Ok, maybe it is not the character of the Mandarin himself that I want to see but those ten rings of his! Each one possesses a different ability. I have long thought that were the coolest weapons in the Marvel cannon. A film detailing his gathering of the rings with a final battle against Iron Man could be very cool; Especially if they work the angle of religious fanaticism coming into play. I should be paid to write these things.

And lastly…

1. Himself

Let's be honest. Throughout his long existence, Tony Stark has been Tony Stark's greatest enemy. His longstanding bout with alcoholism led him into some of the toughest jams of his career. Even after he conquered that demon it was his own hubris that brought about some of his lowest moments. More recently I would site his involvement with the Superhuman Registration Act that kicked off the Marvel Universe Civil War. When you find yourself standing against Captain America and your ego is still big enough to make you question that stance, you're in trouble. Iron Man may be encased in armor but he is a uniquely vulnerable figure in the world of superheroes. Perhaps it is these faults and personal challenges that he faces which make him such a relatable and popular figure. He would probably just say it is because he is awesome, proving my point at the same time.

Check out this trailer for Iron Man II, opening across the country tomorrow in case you missed the memo.

So who did I miss? Any big Unicorn fans out there? Let me know!

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