4. Iron Man
It’s the movie that both re-launched Robert Downey Jr.’s career as a bonafide movie star as well as the film that became the springboard for the current superhero mania. As stripped down as a Marvel movie will ever be, Iron Man established Tony Stark as a character within moments – egotistical, aloof and then deconstructed what we knew about him in the next 20. Before we got to meet Iron Man the superhero, we met Tony Stark the genius mechanic. John Favreau was smart to show us just how clever Tony was to make him more than a rich guy in a suit, and then further explored his tinkering nature in some stylish sequences of the first stages of building Iron Man. The push and pull dynamic between Tony and Pepper is instantly engaging, but 90% of why the film works to the extent that it does is all due to Downey. Imbuing a character who very easily in other hands could have been insufferable (ahem Joss Whedon) with a sense of vulnerability despite his larger than life persona. It might still be the finest bit of casting Marvel has ever done. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man.