Since its inception, arguably no one has meant more to the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Robert Downey Jr. He’ll always be considered one of the godfathers of the MCU and his portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man is something Marvel fans will cherish forever.
Downey Jr. added plenty of his own individualistic flair to the character that made it unlike anything we’d ever seen from the source material. Some more recent comics have even taken inspiration from Downey’s portrayal for their new versions of Tony Stark. That’s doesn’t mean, however, that the character doesn’t have his moments taken straight from the comics. Covering the span of twelve incredible years and appearances in ten different films, let’s take a look at five times RDJ’s Iron Man was accurate to the comics, and five times it wasn’t.
10 Wasn’t: Relationship With Pepper Potts
As the original couple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s hard to imagine a world in which Tony Stark and Pepper Potts aren’t together. Well, although the two eventually found their way to each other in the comics, it’s nothing like how things played out in the MCU.
In the comics, Pepper Potts actually was married to Tony Stark’s bodyguard, Happy Hogan, long before she wound up with Tony. Obviously, that’s far from how their relationship was portrayed in the films. For the purposes of a solid cinematic love story, however, the way they wound up together on-screen was a much better route and gave the MCU’s first hero the necessary and standard love interest.
9 Was: Armor
Since the very first suit of armor that helped him escape a cave in Afghanistan, Iron Man’s cinematic suits have been right on par with those of the comics. As the years went on, the iterations of Tony Stark’s armor continued to take inspiration from his comic book suits.
The Hulkbuster armor of Avengers: Age of Ultron was originally seen Iron Man #304 of 1994. The Bleeding Edge, nano-tech suit of Avengers: Infinity War took inspiration from Matt Fraction’s 2010 Invincible Iron Man run. Essentially every suit of armor we’ve seen in the MCU has been a direct replica of one that originated in his comics.
8 Wasn’t: Creating Ultron
One of the simpler examples of Iron Man deviating from Marvel’s source material is Ultron being a creation of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. In the comics, Ultron was actually created by Hank Pym, who wouldn’t join the MCU until after the Avengers had defeated the sentient robot.
The decision to have Tony Stark create Ultron actually worked out fairly well, despite Ultron being just a one-film character. It fell right in line with the creation of Tony’s Iron Legion and created a scenario in which Ultron could come and go, letting the MCU carry on with its build-up to Thanos while still giving the second Avengers film a decent villain straight from the comics.
7 Was: Civil War Stance
Although it went in its own direction in a number of ways, Captain America: Civil War was still fairly loyal to the iconic 2006 Civil War storyline. As a result of that, the film’s two main characters were near mirrored versions of their comic book selves. Just as he did in the comic arc, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark of the MCU also supported the hero registration initiative. The team of heroes on his side may have drastically changed from page to screen, but Iron Man’s Civil War stance was something that had to stay true to the source material.
6 Wasn’t: Relationship With Spider-Man
Staying with Captain America: Civil War, the film gave fans a much different look at the relationship between Iron Man and Spider-Man. In the comics, the two were more crime-fighting counterparts than they were friends.
The concept of Iron Man helping create a more legitimate version of Spider-Man was something entirely new, and something that would end up working better than anyone could’ve imagined. Their father-son relationship was something never-before-seen, yet something that the MCU benefited greatly from.
5 Was: A Founding Avenger
An obvious nod to Iron Man’s comic book existence was making him a founding member of the MCU Avengers. Just as he was an original member that helped build Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on screen, he was there at the very beginning in 1963. The core members of the cinematic Avengers were slightly different than those in Avengers #1, but one of the several members they shared was Tony Stark’s, Iron Man.
4 Wasn’t: Having A Daughter
The idea of Tony Stark having a child in the MCU had been a prominent theory long before Morgan Stark’s debut in Avengers: Endgame. The thing is, that idea was something that would be entirely unique to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In all 57 years of his time in the comics, Iron Man never had a child. While he had plenty of disciples that took over the mantle of Iron Man in some way, shape, or form, it was never his own child. The MCU, however, could finally toy with the idea of making the second coming of Iron Man Tony Stark’s daughter.
3 Was: Fighting Captain America
The shot of Captain America blocking Iron Man’s repulsor blast was taken directly from the pages of Civil War. Although the comic book version was significantly darker, taking place on the top of fallen heroes, the shot is still taken directly from the comic.
There are plenty of instances in the MCU that take direct inspiration from their comic sources. None, however, are more iconic than this between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
2 Wasn’t: His Death
Now, this isn’t to say that Tony Stark has never died in the comics before. In fact, he’s died on a number of occasions in a number of different storylines. However, none of those deaths were anything like what happened in Avengers: Endgame. It was fairly obvious that Tony Stark had the greatest odds to meet his demise in Endgame, but no one could’ve imagined it would happen in such a heroic, legendary, and completely unique way.
1 Was: Wielding The Infinity Stones
There might not be a better Iron Man moment in the entire MCU than when he wielded the Infinity Stones. Even carrying a nuke through a wormhole couldn’t top his ultimate heroic moment at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
As epic as it was to see Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man snap his fingers, it wasn’t a moment entirely unique to the MCU. In Avengers Vol. 4 #12, Brian Michael Bendis’ 2011 run with Marvel’s signature super team, Tony Stark wielded the Infinity Gauntlet for the first time. Although the purpose of using the stones was much different in the comics than it was in Endgame, it was still an incredible moment that made a seamless transition from page to screen.
Iron Man fans all believe Robert Downey Jr. did the character of Tony Stark justice, but there were times he strayed from Marvel Comics' vision.