“If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damned sure we’ll avenge it.” That’s what Tony Stark aka Iron Man says to Loki in 2012’s The Avengers. The entire Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to revolve around Robert Downey Jr.’s larger-than-life character—2008’s Iron Man being the catalyst for everything that followed. Of course, he’d get the titular line in the game-changing team-up. That said, is Iron Man the best Avenger?
Steve Rogers/Captain America has been the revered leader of the Avengers since they first appeared together in 1963. The wholesome super soldier was a cringe-worthy piece of propaganda (at times). Chris Evans’ MCU debut as the character was more than passable, but his role in The Avengers was, well, predictable and uninspired (unless you count the deleted scenes)—Tony Stark was still the most interesting Avenger. However, Captain America: The Winter Soldier took the cheese out of Capt. and made him a truly badass Avenger. By the time Captain America: Civil War put them in direct opposition, Steve Rogers was on a level playing field with Tony Stark. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame further developed their arcs and relationship before closing the book on the “Big Two,” leaving us to look back on their avenging careers. So who wore the ‘A’ better?
Disclaimer: This is based solely on the films and ignores the comics (where Iron Man did have one or two villain arcs).
From a traditional, cookie-cutter perspective, Captain America is the better Avenger. Tony makes a lot of mistakes, but he does everything he can to right those wrongs (even in the first movie). He remains the most flawed but also the most human. His relatability is an asset to both the audience and Captain America, who is able to find peace because of his friend’s influence. He sacrifices himself for the greater good in both the first Avengers movie and Endgame. The character of Tony Stark, his arc, and the actor who plays him are the reason we go to movies. Iron Man has been the most instrumental in MCU’s past, present, and future.
Overall Winner: Iron Man
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