This year marked the 10th anniversary of the first Iron Man film, and it's worth remembering that Obadiah Stane set the whole MCU franchise in motion. It's been a long, exciting journey for Marvel Studios' grand experiment in shared movie universes, with 20 films so far comprising the interconnected masterwork. Next year will play host to three more franchise entries, with Captain Marvel set to become the first female hero to lead an MCU movie, Avengers 4 poised to change the Marvel universe in huge ways, and Spider-Man: Far From Home showcasing Peter Parker's second MCU solo outing.
It all started with 2008's Iron Man though, which was heavily overshadowed at the time of its theatrical release by the dominance of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, but has arguably gone on to become much more consequential to the film industry at large. Many still hold up Iron Man as one of the best movies in the MCU to date, and the post-credits scene in which Nick Fury approaches Iron Man about the Avengers Initiative is thought of by many as when the MCU was truly born. Except, that's not entirely true.
When it comes to the canon of the films, the man more responsible than any other for the franchise's launch is Iron Man villain Obadiah Stane, played by Jeff Bridges. "The Dude" may be Bridges' most famous role, but Stane did certainly not abide what he found to be Tony Stark's poor leadership of Stark Industries. He concocted a plan to get Stark out of the picture permanently, but when that plan went awry, Stane inadvertently ended up changing the billionaire arms dealer for the better, and leading directly to the creation of the Iron Man suit and persona.
Building what would become the original Iron Man suit "in a cave, with a box of scraps" was of course initially a desperate attempt by Stark to survive a situation he knew would end only one way: with his Ten Rings terrorist captors killing him. That was indeed Stane's plan, for Stark to die at the hands of the Ten Rings. As Redditor AhhBisto recently pointed out, Stane was so committed to the mission of killing his boss that he actually hurried to delay the planned attack on Stark after the latter's flight to Afghanistan was delayed, then couldn't sleep due to the anticipation of Stark's death coming to fruition.
Considering that Iron Man has gone on to be so important to The Avengers, there's an argument to be made that Fury's initiative would never have come to pass properly without Tony Stark's technology. While it could also be argued that Stark might have built the Iron Man suit later on, for some other reason, there's no guarantee he would have. Thanks to Obadiah Stane's relentless pursuit of power, Stark became Iron Man. Iron Man has since saved the world multiple times, alongside The Avengers, the end of Infinity War notwithstanding. So in an odd way, Stane deserves lots of gratitude, as his villainous actions saved countless lives, and put the MCU on the path to greatness.