The entire Marvel Cinematic Universe began with 2008's Iron Man and that film set the stage for the 20+ movies that followed while making comic book characters like Tony Stark, James Rhodes, Pepper Potts, and more into household names. That often happened due to some truly memorable moments featuring each of them.

Some of the main characters from that trilogy of films had fantastic scenes of being heroic, while others had highlights that were downright hilarious or important to the series. They may have had better scenes in other MCU films but their high points in the Iron Man franchise made them into iconic characters.

10 Ho Yinsen - Sacrificing Himself To Save Tony

Looking back, if it wasn't for the efforts of Ho Yinsen (Shaun Toub) there likely wouldn't be an Iron Man and by that extension, an Avengers. He's technically that important. With Tony Stark trapped in a cave in Iron Man, it was fellow captive Yinsen who helped him out.

Not only did he assist him in making the suit that led to his escape but when it came time to actually get free, Yinsen stepped up in a huge way. He bought Tony time and ultimately sacrificed himself to make sure that Tony got out. Without that moment, it's hard for the rest of the MCU to happen.

9 Justin Hammer - Getting Embarrassed In Court

When it comes to villains in the MCU, it's likely that Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) was the least intimidating. He wasn't going to physically beat anyone up and instead, he relied on his wits but he also couldn't match up in that department either.

So, it's fitting that his most iconic moment in 2010's Iron Man 2 involved him getting embarrassed. Tony Stark intercut a Hammer feed of his projects with footage of his inventions backfiring and failing. It set the tone for the clear difference between Hammer and Stark.


8 Obadiah Stane - Turning On Tony Stark

One of the many MCU trends that began in Iron Man was the hero facing off against a villain who is something of a mirror image. Tony Stark battled Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) at the end of the film as both were decked out in super suits.

Before any of that could happen though, Stane had to turn on Stark. Stane was introduced as a mentor for him only to have it be revealed that he was behind Tony's kidnapping. Stane did this in an attempt to take over Stark Industries and after he explained this, he left Tony to die, showcasing how villainous he was.

7 Ivan Vanko - The Racetrack Attack

The early days of the MCU were known to not have the greatest villains. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) was among them as he ended up being defeated at the end of Iron Man 2 with basically one hit. Despite that, he did have a standout scene earlier in the film.

He proved that he could make something nearly on the level of what Tony Stark could and used it to attack the hero. Vanko, also known as Whiplash, used electrified whips to dismantle a car Tony was racing at the Monaco Grand Prix. It looked visually awesome and was a memorable shot from the trailer, even if he wasn't truly a match for Iron Man.

6 Trevor Slattery - The Truth Gets Revealed

As soon as the first clips from 2013's Iron Man 3 were shown, the character of The Mandarin stood out. He seemed intimidating, his voice was chilling, and it looked like Tony Stark was going to meet his toughest foe. Midway through the movie though, the truth came out.

The Mandarin was actually just Trevor Slattery (Sir Ben Kingsley), an actor who was playing the part and being paid with drugs. Though many comic book fans were disappointed with the reveal, it's hard to forget just how hilarious Slattery was in this scene, jumping all around from being scared to shouting about soccer on TV and more.

5 Natasha Romanoff - The Hallway Fight

Iron Man 2 also marked the debut of one of the most important characters in the MCU, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). She first appeared undercover as Tony Stark's personal assistant before showing her true colors as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Though she had several major scenes along the way, everything came together expertly when she went with Happy Hogan to Hammer's factory. As he beat up one guard, Natasha took out about a dozen through a hallway. The fighting was spectacular and showcased how impressive Romanoff was, so it made sense that she would be chosen for The Avengers Initiative.

4 Happy Hogan - The Forehead Of Security

One of the most consistent characters in the trilogy is Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). After Favreau directed the first two installments, he took a backseat in Iron Man 3, missing a lot of time on screen after getting sent to the hospital. However, he still had a great moment or two in it.

Unlike most other characters, Happy's iconic scene didn't have anything to do with action or something emotional. Instead, his was funny as he struggled with using the camera on his tablet, pointing it at his forehead. Not only did it stand out for being comedic but it also hinted at his future interactions with Peter Parker.

3 James Rhodes - Teaming With Tony

Fans everywhere reacted positively when James Rhodes (Terrence Howard) stared at the potential War Machine suit in Iron Man and suggested he'd wear it next time. That moment arrived in Iron Man 2 as Rhodes (Don Cheadle) actually fought against Tony in his Iron Man suit at a party.

His true great moment came at the end of the movie, though, when he and Tony got on the same side. Watching War Machine and Iron Man battle Ivan Vanko's droids and then Vanko himself was not only awesome but displayed two best friends getting to fight together. This went on to become a legendary duo in the MCU.

2 Pepper Potts - Defeating The Mandarin

Almost immediately, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) shined over everyone else due to how she stood up to Tony. Where others faltered in a battle of words against him, she was known to put him in his place and came across as a strong, independent woman.

Unlike many other love interests in superhero movies, Pepper rarely played the damsel in distress role. In fact, Iron Man 3 made her into the hero as she survived a terrible fall thanks to her Extremis powers. Pepper returned and ended up being the person to deal the final blow to Aldrich Killian in a badass scene.

1 Tony Stark - "I Am Iron Man"

It's next to impossible to pick out one scene from the titular character of the three films. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) had epic scenes outside of his suit and heroic ones in it. That includes his banter with Pepper and when he saved a dozen people falling out of an airplane.

Of course, his greatest moment had to be the one right at the end of Iron Man. Addressing a room of reporters, Tony decided against the idea of lying and told the world, "I am Iron Man." It showed that the MCU would not fall into the secret identity trope and also was so iconic that it was called back to when Tony died to save the universe in Avengers: Endgame.

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