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Iron Man: How to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s MCU saga movies in release and chronological order

Want to get started on watching Tony Stark in the MCU? Here’s how to do it!

Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Without Iron Man, there wouldn't be a Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2008 Robert Downey Jr. made a surprise comeback when he stepped into the role of Tony Stark, an eccentric billionaire playboy with a talent for engineering. RDJ’s casting was pure kismet, bringing the classic Marvel Comics character to life in ways nobody expected. He may have been egotistical and callous, but Robert Downey Jr. showed us Tony’s heart, and the audience fell in love.

If this performance hadn’t worked, then who knows where comic book films would be now. Don’t forget, Iron Man movie is the first official Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Before Groot, Thanos, and all the multiverses of magic, there was just Tony Stark.

Whether you’re a new fan looking to get in on the action, or a seasoned fan looking to go back to where it all began, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to follow Iron Man’s epic MCU saga.

Popverse has assembled everything you need to know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from our MCU watch order to a guide to upcoming Marvel movies and TV shows. Plus, we've taken the time to rank the entire MCU and compile the biggest outstanding questions from Marvel's connected films. Enjoy.

How to watch Iron Man in release order

Iron Man 2 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

If you want to watch Iron Man’s appearances in release order, here is how you would do it. Please note, this list only covers Iron Man’s appearances in the MCU. For a complete MCU watch order, please refer to this article.

This list only covers full appearances by Tony Stark in the MCU. To qualify for this list, Iron Man must appear in new footage. For this reason, archival footage on screens, murals, and posters don’t count. Although Iron Man is technically seen in the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and is seen as a nightmare in Spider-Man: Far From Home, these aren’t true appearances, so they aren’t included on the list. Likewise, Tony Stark’s presence looms large in many MCU films, such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. However, if the character doesn’t make an actual appearance, the film or television show isn’t included on this list.

How to watch Iron Man in chronological order

Iron Man 3 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

If you prefer to watch Iron Man’s adventures in chronological order, here is how you would do it. You’ll notice that the list is largely the same as the release order. One major difference is Iron Man 2 being swapped with The Incredible Hulk. Tony Stark’s What If…? appearances could also be watched separately, since those each take place in alternate realities. It’s worth mentioning that Robert Downey Jr. does not voice Iron Man in any of the What If…? episodes, but that could change in upcoming seasons.

The main MCU timeline
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Alternate realities
  • What If…? season 1 episode 3 (2021)
  • What If…? season 1 episode 5 (2021)
  • What If…? season 1 episode 6 (2021)
  • What If…? season 1 episode 8 (2021)
  • What If…? season 1 episode 9 (2021)

Where can I watch Iron Man?

Iron Man 3 still
Image credit: Marvel Studios

You don’t need the latest Stark tech to watch Iron Man’s film saga, you just need a Disney+ subscription. Every movie and television series listed in our watch order can be found on Disney+. If you’re already subscribed to Disney+, there is no need for any extra purchases.

If you prefer physical copies, then each of these films are available at most home video retailers. If you prefer owning digital copies, then the films are available on most video-on-demand platforms, including iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video. The only exception is the What If…? animated series, which is currently a Disney+ exclusive.

Is Robert Downey Jr. done playing Iron Man?

Avengers: Endgame still with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame seems to spell the end of Robert Downey Jr.’s time with the character. However, this is the MCU, where death isn’t always the end. Like the Marvel Comics the franchise is based on, some characters have a habit of returning from the grave. For example, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was killed in Avengers: Infinity War, yet the character is currently starring in his own televisions series.

During a 2022 podcast interview, RDJ revealed his conditions for returning to the character. “There would have to be a super compelling argument and a series of events that made it obvious. But the other thing is, I want to do other stuff,” Downey Jr. said. It’s worth noting that Tony Stark was originally going to have a cameo in Black Widow (2021), but the appearance was cut as the script was revised. The film takes place before Stark’s death, so his appearance wouldn’t have disrupted continuity.

Comic book films love their surprise cameos, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Robert Downy Jr. suit up again in the future.

Where else can I follow Iron Man’s story in the MCU?

Iron Man 3 comic prelude
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t just live on the screen. Marvel has released a series of comic books expanding on the film series. Some of the comics are adaptations, while others tell original stories set between the films. Marvel advertises these stories as canon, but some of the comics have been contradicted by later film releases. It’s best to treat each of these comics as a secondary form of canon, which can be overridden by future releases.

Here's a list of the MCU tie-in comics that Tony Stark appears in.

  • Iron Man: Fast Friends (2008) – Mini-series that focuses on the friendship between Tony Stark and James Rhodes.
  • Iron Man: Security Measures (2008) – This comic shows us what Nick Fury and Phil Coulson were doing during the events of the first movie. Fury erroneously claims that Stark built his armor out of Vibranium, contradicting later MCU films.
  • Iron Man: The Price of Doing Business (2008) – Set after the events of the first film, and partially inspired by the 2008 video game (more on that later). The comic has been contradicted by later MCU releases and is not canon.
  • Iron Man: I Am Iron Man (2010) – An adaptation of the first Iron Man, with a few extra scenes peppered in.
  • Iron Man 2: Security Breach (2010) – The Ten Rings terrorist organization kidnaps one of Tony Stark’s dates. This seems to be set sometime before the second film.
  • Iron Man: Will Online Evils Prevail? (2010) – A choose-your-own-adventure story. A Wolverine doll appears in the comic, which is one of the many reasons it isn’t considered MCU canon.
  • Iron Man 2: Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) – The story focuses on the early working relationship between Iron Man and Nick Fury.
  • Iron Man 2: Public Identity (2010) – A prequel to Iron Man 2, focusing on the fallout of Tony revealing his identity.
  • Iron Man 2: Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) – A one-shot that focuses on Phil Coulson’s activities between Iron Man and Iron Man 2.
  • Iron Man: Limited Edition (2010) – A comic sponsored by LG, featuring augmented reality content. The story is set between Iron Man and Iron Man 2.
  • Iron Man 2: Black Widow, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) – A prequel to Iron Man 2, focusing on Black Widow’s activities before the film.
  • Iron Man 2: Royal Purple (2010) – Iron Man takes on the Ten Rings in a comic book sponsored by Royal Purple.
  • Iron Man 2: Fists of Iron (2011) – A one-shot adventure sponsored by Audi. Product placement galore!
  • The Avengers Prelude: Fury’s Big Week (2012) – A prequel to the Avengers film, focusing on Fury’s mission to gather the team together.
  • The Avengers: Iron Man Mark VII (2012) – An interactive digital comic showcasing the evolution of Iron Man’s armor in the MCU.
  • The Avengers Prelude: Black Widow Strikes (2012) – This comic reveals Black Widow’s activities between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers.
  • The Avengers: The Avengers Initiative (2012) – A prequel to The Avengers. It mostly focuses on Black Widow and Hawkeye testing S.H.I.E.L.D.’s security system.
  • Iron Man 2 (2012) – An adaptation of the 2010 film.
  • Iron Man 3 Prelude (2013) – A prequel to the 2013 film. Some of the lore surrounding the Mandarin would be contradicted by the 2021 film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
  • Iron Man: The Coming of the Melter (2013) – A retelling of Iron Man #72 (1974) set within the MCU’s continuity.
  • Thor: The Dark World Prelude (2013) – A comic bridging the events of The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World. Iron Man briefly appears.
  • The Avengers Adaptation (2014) – An adaptation of the 2012 film.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude – This Scepter’d Isle (2015) – A prequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron, focusing on the activities of Baron von Strucker.
  • Avengers: Operation Hydra (2015) – The Avengers track down the remnants of Hydra. This comic is set shortly before Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron - Episode 0 (2015) – A manga-inspired story focusing on Tony Stark’s activities shortly before the 2015 film.
  • Captain America: Civil War Prelude (2015) – Although this comic is named after Captain America: Civil War, it’s actually an adaptation of Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Captain America: Road to War (2016) – This comic focuses on Captain America and Black Widow training the Avengers team seen at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony Stark makes a brief appearance.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Prelude (2017) – The events of Captain America; Civil War are retold from Spider-Man’s point of view.
  • Avengers: Infinity War Prelude (2018) – This comic focuses on the fallout of Captain America: Civil War and teases the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Captain Marvel Prelude (2018) – This comic reveals what Nick Fury has been up to since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home Prelude (2019) – An adaptation of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is titled to tie-in with the 2019 sequel.
  • Black Widow Prelude (2020) – A prequel to the Black Widow film. Tony Stark briefly appears.

Are Iron Man’s video game appearances MCU canon?

Iron Man video game boxart
Image credit: Sega

Iron Man’s popularity has led to a series of video games, which have nebulous ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here is a brief breakdown of each game, and their canon status within the MCU.

  • Iron Man (2008) – This game is interesting because it features voice acting from Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, and Shaun Toub. However, it is most definitely not canon to the MCU. The video game contains a ton of Marvel Easter eggs that would wind up being contradicted by later film releases. This is what happens when a game is released in 2008 before the MCU has been mapped out.
  • Iron Man: Aerial Assault (2008) – An endless runner game for the iOS. The game follows Iron Man as he flies through a series of training exercises. There is nothing in this game to indicate whether it’s canon or not, so go with your heart.
  • Iron Man 2 (2010) – A video game set after the events of the second movie. The game features voice work from Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle. The script was written by Matt Fraction, a comic book writer who had a memorable run on Invincible Iron Man. Jack Taggart’s backstory in the game is contradicted by his introduction in the film Iron Man 3. In other words, this game is not canon.
  • Iron Man: Upgraded (2010) – An in-browser shooter game sponsored by Dr. Pepper. There isn’t much to this game in terms of story, so you can pretend it’s canon if you want.
  • Whiplash: Slash and Burn (2010) – An in-browser game that expands on the Monaco battle in Iron Man 2. Since it’s a different version of events seen in the movie, it’s not considered canon.
  • The Avengers (2012) – A mobile game retelling the events of the 2012 film. It changes a few plot points, so it’s not entirely canon. But you get to play as the Avengers, so it’s still fun.
  • Iron Man 3 (2013) – A mobile game that retells the events of the 2013 film. The game presents an alternate ending, where Tony destroys Stark Industries. As such, the game is not canon.

Want more? Here's our complete Marvel's MCU watch order.

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Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar
Joshua Lapin-Bertone: Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.
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