This week we are going to countdown the best villains who have regularly faced Iron Man in his time. Iron Man’s villains surely run the gambit of the deadly and ones that just won’t go away ever, no matter how much Tony drinks to forget about them. Let’s get to old Shellhead’s baddest baddies!
10. Titanium Man (First Appearance Tales of Suspense #69, 1965)
What better to fight Iron Man than another Iron…er…Titanium armored character? Why not Boris Bullski? He was a KGB agent that was originally trained by our very own Black Widow. Boris gained favor in the Russian government when he was an administrator at a Siberia prison. Boris commissioned scientist prisoners of the camp to use the original lab of Anton Vanko, Vanko having created the Crimson Dynamo armor. Bullski used the Titanium Man armor to attack Iron Man in an attempt to increase propaganda in the west. The older version was no match for Iron Man even though it was based on the original Iron Man armor. Boris return several times to be soundly defeated. He even teamed up with Crimson Dynamo and Radioactive Man. It was a vicious battle where one of the Iron Man cast had lost her life. The Titanium Man armor has been redesigned on several occasions. During the ARMOR WARS story line Iron Man ended up killing the villain Gremlin who had been using the armor at the time.
9. Blizzard (First Appearance Tales of Suspense #45, 1963)
“Blizzzard”…say it with me “Blizzard”. Just for the record there have been several version of the Blizzard and he has been a constant problems for Iron Man. The first Blizzard Gregor Shapanka was obsessed with immortality. He figured cryonics was his first step to achieving said long life. This led to battles with Iron Man since Tony Stark had all the cool toys. Gregor was eventually fried (yes fried) by the Iron Man from 2020. Donald Gill was the second Blizzard. He was a professional criminal hired by Justin Hammer and given his “Blizzard” suit. Needless to say Gill has been more of an annoyance to Iron Man than even the original. He frequently teamed up with several other villains to gain more street cred. Gill eventually join with the Thunderbolts in order to go straight but was fired by Songbird. Blizzard’s history never really continued get any better.
8. Controller (First Appearance Iron Man #12 1969)
Basil Sandhurst was a electro-mechanical/chemical research scientist with an obsession over control. Sadly many scientists did not want to work with Basil since his experiments were unethical. After an accident had left him crippled, his brother created an automated lab where he created his super strong exoskeleton. He created his control discs to power his suit and control people’s minds. He made a play to take over New York which was not a good idea. Iron Man came and kicked his butt pretty good. The Controller was defeated several times and even had his tech upgraded by the mad titan Thanos. Basil has battled Iron Man several times, but been on the hero side of things, even taking a strong stance against the Skrulls during Secret Invasion.
7. Ghost (First Appearance Iron Man 219, #1987)
Ghost was a motivated by industrial terrorism. He was against anything that was considered part of the system. He terrorized Stark Industries for years but was never truly defeated by the hands of Iron Man. Circumstances from time and time again created stalemates between old shell head and Ghost. While there isn’t much to know origin wise about Ghost, he once admitted to Moonstone that he was an IT researcher that helped his company develop the technology for intangibility. It had a design flaw where it would overheat if used for a certain amount of time. Ghost was even in the Thunderbolts during the Dark Reign story line.
6. Crimson Dynamo (First Appearance Tales of Suspense #46 1963)
To date, there have been 13 different people using the Crimson Dynamo armor since 1963. The original Anton Vanko was the creator of Crimson Dynamo armor. He was tasked by his superiors to sabotage Stark Industries. However, Vanko was convinced by Tony Stark to work for him as a scientist. Seeing the value of the American way, he feared the Russian government would kill him for his defection. Anton was killed saving Iron Man during a battle with the Black Widow and the second Crimson Dynamo. Most of the other Dynamo’s were Soviets that were patriots to their country. The armor has mostly been re-designed each time during its appearance, serving as a thorn in Tony’s side again and again.
5. Whiplash (First Appearance Tales of Suspense#97–99 Jan.-March 1968) Backlash (Iron Man #146,1981)
Ok, so Whiplash is Backlash and the other way around; make sense? It’s even more confusing if you’ve seen Iron Man 2. Mark Scarlotti used to be a talented electrician at Stark Enterprises in Cincinnati, Ohio. Seeking a more luxurious lifestyle, he turned to a life of crime by designing his own metal whip. Scarlotti became a weapons designer for the Maggia crime family. He went through several battles with Iron Man over the years and was even diagnosed as manic-depressive, hence the reason he changed his name from Whiplash to Backlash. Now with the success of the Iron Man 2 film, Ivan Vanko became the next Whiplash in the comics. Marvel put together a short mini-series in 2009 to introduce the new Whiplash.
4. Madame Masque (Tales of Suspense #98, 1968 as Whitney Frost, Iron Man #17, 1969 as Madame Masque)
From time to time, our heroes get into trouble in the way of a lady friend that might just be a Maggia princess. Whitney Frost’s mother died during child-birth and her father Count Neferia decided it’s best that she live a life away from the gangster lifestyle of the Maggia. When her foster parents died, Neferia convinced her to come back to family business. She ended up becoming the criminal BIG M. In a raid on Stark Industries her plane crashes and scarred her face. She was rescued by Mordecai Midas. Midas has an obsession with gold and creates a mask for her and the persona Madame Masque. Tony Stark takes pity on Madame Masque’s damaged face and tries to help her. Whitney returns under another name and becomes Stark’s personal assistant. For some time, Whitney and Tony begin a romantic relationship with each other knowing their secret identities. The relationship does not end well as Whitney has to decide between Stark or her father. Whitney has had several other run-ins with Iron Man. Their emotions for each other makes it dangerous for both.
3. Iron Monger (First Appearance as Obadiah Stane Iron Man #163, 1982 and Iron Monger Iron Man #200)
Like many of Iron Man’s enemies, they all have toys to battle Iron Man on his worst days. One of those days just happen to be the day Obidah Stane took over Stark Industries. While Tony Stark is brilliant in his own right, he wasn’t always the best business man. Stane attacked Tony on all fronts by attacking Stark Industries with the Chessman and even planting an enemy as a spy that had relations with Stark. Stark was pushed to the brink and relapsed back into alcoholism. Stane gained control of Stark Industries, renaming it Stane Industries. James Rhodes took over the Iron Man armor which left Tony a homeless vagrant. Tony found help by way of a pregnant woman with the courage to give Tony a chance. Meanwhile, Stane discovered the plans to an Iron Man suit and developed a much larger suit, the Iron Monger. It never lived up to the power that the original Iron Man held. In their final battle, Stane committed suicide fearing imprisonment by Stark. The Iron Monger design plagued Stark for three more incarnations, including Stane’s son, Zeke.
2. Mandarin (First Appearance Tales of Suspense #50, 1964)
The Mandarin is the pivotal arch-enemy of Iron Man. His history has been re-written a few times over. We know that he is a great ancestor of the ruler Genghis Khan. When the Chinese government evicted him from his home due to debt occurred during his long education. He discovered the ten rings in cave that housed a crashed alien race. The rings gave him the power to begin his world domination. The Mandarin attacked Stark on many occasions, even kidnapping Tony but failing to kill him. Iron Man also found it somewhat difficult to capture Mandarian during several battles. Stark Industries attempted to build factories in the Mandarin’s homeland of China. Mandarin has died several times during battles with Iron Man only to return more powerful and clever than before. As side note the Iron Man 3 Mandarin was in no way the best version we have ever seen of the Mandarin. He probably would have played out better as an actual terrorist.
1. Tony Stark (First Appearance Tales of Suspense #39, 1963)
The saying “I am my own worse enemy” is more truer in Tony Stark than any other character. He was an arms dealer that was injured selling arms. Through his own creation, the Iron Man armor, many other villains were born. Just about every armor built-in the Marvel Universe ends up having a start from Stark himself. The Armor Wars story lines play into the guilt that Stark had lost control of his creation. Stark is also an alcoholic that has fallen off the wagon time and time again. He also has a serious god complex which has plagued him for years.The Illuminati was a prime example of Tony’s underlining sense of uncontrolled power. He is a character that comes with serious depth and flaws. It could be the main reason we care for him so much and the fact that under the shell of iron there might be a hero of gold.