Iron Man is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Jeff Bridges, Paul Bettany and Don Cheadle.
Tony Stark is in war-torn Afghanistan with his friend and Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes to demonstrate the new "Jericho" missile. After the demonstration, the convoy is ambushed and Stark is critically wounded by one of his own company's rocket-propelled grenades. He is captured and imprisoned in a cave by a terrorist group, the Ten Rings; Yinsen, a fellow captive who is a doctor, implants an electromagnet into Stark's chest to keep the shrapnel shards that wounded him from reaching his heart and killing him. Ten Rings leader Raza offers Stark freedom in exchange for building a Jericho missile for the group, but Tony and Yinsen know that Raza will not keep his word.
Stark and Yinsen secretly build a small, powerful electric generator called an arc reactor to power Stark's electromagnet and a suit of powered armor to aid in their escape. Although they keep the suit hidden almost to completion, the Ten Rings discover their hostages' intentions and attack the workshop. Yinsen sacrifices himself to divert them while the suit is completed. The armored Stark battles his way out of the cave to find the dying Yinsen, then burns the Ten Rings' weapons in anger and flies away, crashing in the desert and destroying the suit by accident. After being rescued by Rhodes, Stark returns home and announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. Obadiah Stane, his father's old partner and the company's manager, advises Stark that this may ruin Stark Industries and his father's legacy. In his home workshop, Stark builds a sleeker, more powerful version of his improvised armor suit as well as a more powerful arc reactor for his chest. Personal assistant Pepper Potts places the original reactor inside a small glass showcase. Though Stane requests details, Stark keeps his work to himself because he is suspicious of his company.
At a charity event held by Stark Industries, reporter Christine Everhart informs Stark that his company's weapons, including the Jericho, were recently delivered to the Ten Rings and are being used to attack Yinsen's home village, Gulmira. Stark then learns that Stane has been arms trafficking to criminals worldwide, and is staging a coup to replace him as Stark Industries' CEO. Stark dons his new armor and flies to Afghanistan, where he saves the villagers. While flying home, Stark is shot at by two F-22 Raptor fighter jets. He reveals his secret identity to Rhodes over the phone in an attempt to end the attack. Meanwhile, the Ten Rings gather the pieces of Stark's prototype suit and meet with Stane, who subdues Raza and has the rest of the group killed. Stane has a massive new suit reverse engineered from the wreckage. Seeking to track his company's illegal shipments, Stark sends Pepper to hack into its database. She discovers Stane hired the Ten Rings to kill Stark, but the group reneged. Potts meets with Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D., an intelligence agency, to inform him of Stane's activities.
Stane's scientists cannot duplicate Stark's miniaturized arc reactor, so Stane ambushes Stark at his home and takes the one from his chest. Stark manages to get to his original reactor to replace it. Potts and several S.H.I.E.L.D. agents attempt to arrest Stane, but he dons his suit and attacks them. Stark fights Stane, but is outmatched without his new reactor to run his suit at full capacity. The fight carries Stark and Stane to the top of the Stark Industries building, and Stark instructs Potts to overload the large arc reactor powering the building. This unleashes a massive electrical surge that causes Stane and his armor to fall into the exploding reactor, killing him. The next day, at a press conference, Stark defies suggestions from S.H.I.E.L.D. and publicly admits to being the superhero the press has dubbed "Iron Man".
In a post-credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury visits Stark at home, telling him that Iron Man is not "the only superhero in the world", and explaining that he wants to discuss the "Avenger Initiative".
- Robert Downy Jr - Iron Man/Tony Stark
- Gwyneth Paltrow - Pepper Potts
- Jon Favreau - Happy Hogan
- Jeff Bridges - Iron Monger/Obadiah Stane
- Paul Bettany - J.A.R.V.I.S.
- Don Cheadle - James "Rhodey" Rhodes
- Clark Gregg - Phil Coulson
- Shaun Toub - Yinsen
- Faran Tahir - Raza
- Leslie Bibb - Christine Everhart
- Samuel L Jackson - Nick Fury