10 Times Iron Man Proved He Was MCU’s Greatest Hero Even Without His Supersuits


10 Times Iron Man Proved He Was MCU’s Greatest Hero Even Without His Supersuits

Tony Stark may have become a hero by donning his high-tech Iron Man suits, but several moments in the MCU prove he doesn’t need them to succeed.


  • Tony Stark’s character development in the MCU centered on discovering who he was without his Iron Man armor and what it meant to truly be a hero.
  • Tony’s actions without his armor, whether by necessity or choice, helped shape not only his own life but the entire MCU.
  • Tony’s inventions and actions, such as ending weapons manufacturing, outsmarting Loki, and building makeshift weapons, showcased his bravery, intelligence, and determination to do what’s right.



Iron Man may be one of the MCU’s most iconic heroes, but Tony Stark proved several times that he doesn’t need his armor to do what’s right. There’s no doubt that Stark wouldn’t have been able to be an active-duty Avenger and fight the likes of Thanos or Ultron without his protective suits, but the self-proclaimed “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” still had a lot to offer with his genius-level intellect and eventual desire to work for the greater good.

While Tony’s development of his suits was ultimately a net positive, as it led to him saving countless lives, his character journey was centered on discovering who he was when he didn’t have his suit on and what it meant to truly be Iron Man. It’s this realization that ultimately makes Tony one of the MCU’s strongest Avengers. Whether it be by necessity when his suits break down or by choice, Tony’s actions without the Iron Man armor helped shape the course of not only his own life, but the entire MCU.

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10 Tony Decides To End Stark Industries Weapons Manufacturing

Iron Man (2008)

A major testament to Tony’s character came before officially becoming Iron Man. After being kidnapped by terrorists in Afghanistan and witnessing first-hand the harm and death that had been caused by his company’s weapons, Tony no longer wanted anything to do with weapons manufacturing. After he escaped and returned to the U.S., his first major declaration was that he would end the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries immediately. This stunned the public, as Stark Industries was the leading manufacturer for the United States military. This act proved that Tony was not a person who would remain complacent in the face of injustice, a necessary heroic quality.

9 Tony Confronts And Outsmarts Loki Without His Armor

The Avengers (2012)

Tom Hiddleston's Loki Chokes RDJ's Iron Man in The Avengers

When Tony first encountered Loki, he remained commendably level-headed despite the circumstances. Despite Loki’s power as an Asgardian and the commander of a massive army, Tony confronts him at Stark Tower. Tony bravely mocks Loki and assures him that, no matter how much destruction Loki wages on New York, Tony and his fellow heroes would always be there to avenge the lives lost. In this moment, Loki, a god wielding incredible power, becomes intimidated by a simple man without protection.

8 Tony Infiltrates The Mandarin’s Headquarters Using Makeshift Weapons

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark Infiltrates The Mandarin's Headquarters Iron Man 3

While investigating The Mandarin, Tony suffers a great deal of post-traumatic stress brought on by his near-death experience during the Battle of New York. To cope, he builds countless suits, believing they are the only way to keep him and the people he loves safe. After a surprise attack leaves Tony stranded on the other side of the coutnry, he quickly realizes that he must become a hero without the aid of his suit and fights some of the The Mandarin’s followers. After learning of The Mandarin’s headquarters, Tony bravely sneaks onto his property and relies on his engineering ingenuity to design handheld weapons that he uses to defend himself.

Related: Iron Man’s 10 Most Powerful Weapons In The MCU

7 Tony Blows Up His Iron Man Suits To Show His Love For Pepper

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man Suits Blowing Up in a shipyard in Iron Man 3

While Tony is struggling internally with his sense of self-worth and his own mortality, his constant building of new suits strains his relationship with Pepper Potts. It seems to her that he cares more about his work and being Iron Man than he does being with her. When Pepper is kidnapped by The Mandarin and placed in a life-threatening situation, Tony once again finds himself in a situation he can’t just fix with a suit. After Pepper miraculously survives, he vows to make her the number one priority in his life, and as a gesture of his love, blows up all of his Iron Man suits.

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6 Tony Shows Gratitude To Harley Keener With Generous Gifts

Iron Man 3 (2013)

While stranded in Tennessee, Tony befriends a boy named Harley Keener, who allows Tony to stay and charge his Iron Man suit in his family’s garage. Harley is surprisingly emotionally intelligent for his age and not only helps Tony with his technology but with his personal struggles, too. Harley helps talk Tony out of a panic attack and convinces him that he is still Iron Man without his suit. Tony is so grateful for the time he spends with Harley that, after he returns home safely, he repays Harley in the form of a completely renovated workstation in Harley’s garage to support Harley’s budding interest in engineering.

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5 Tony Stark Inventing Vision Created One Of The MCU’s Strongest Superheroes

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Tony often creates his own enemies, and there’s no better example of this than when he designs Ultron with the intent of protecting the Earth. Of course, Ultron becomes sentient and wants to destroy all life. Though Tony recognizes his mistake in creating Ultron, he does not want to give up on the idea of creating a powerful hero to defend the Earth, and it is this determination that allows him to invent Vision. With Vision, Tony finally gets it right, creating one of the strongest and most morally pure Avengers. Vision famously wields Mjolnir only minutes after coming to life, immediately proving his good nature.

4 Tony Helped Make The Next Era Of MCU Heroes With His Donations

Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark Speaks At MIT In Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

While Tony has always been egotistical, it’s clear that he is not selfish, as he generously donates his wealth to encourage the younger generations to follow in his footsteps. He famously does this when he speaks at his Alma mater, MIT, and announces that he will issue a massive grant to all students to aid them in developing their own inventions. The generous donation has an incredible impact on young inventors, as, years later, an MIT student named Riri Williams invents her own mechanized suit and becomes a hero.

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3 Tony Expresses Remorse Over Accidental Civilian Deaths

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark Is Confronted By A Grieving Mother In Captain America Civil War

One of Tony’s most admirable traits is that he takes his role as a superhero very seriously. He recognizes when he’s made mistakes and tries to atone for his actions. It is this commitment to making things right that informs his character arc in Captain America: Civil War. While being a hero ultimately comes with sacrifices, Tony’s guilt over the lives accidentally ended by the Avengers makes his desire to regulate the team and mitigate collateral damage more understandable.

2 Tony’s Support Of Spider-Man Helped Him Learn How To Be A Hero

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Tony’s relationship with Peter Parker is one of the best in all of the MCU because it allows Tony to grow as a character. Through mentoring Peter and showing him how to be a hero, Tony becomes a better hero in the process. He is able to chide Peter when he makes reckless mistakes, because he once made mistakes too. When he gives Peter enhanced Stark technology, all of its added features can be traced back to safety measures Tony wished he had when he was in danger. And after Tony’s death, Peter is inspired to carry on his legacy and become one of the greatest heroes in the MCU.

1 Tony Builds The First Time Machine And Saves The Universe

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark in a time travel suit in Avengers: Endgame

Though he’s built countless amazing suits, Tony’s most incredible invention is his time travel tech. Time travel has fundamentally altered the MCU, and Thanos would have remained victorious if Stark’s math and engineering – with the help of Scott Lang’s Quantum Realm knowledge – didn’t allow the Avengers to enact the Time Heist. Even in the face of insurmountable odds and seemingly permanent failure, Iron Man refuses to give up on humanity.

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