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Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963), and was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby.

Born Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark, he is an industrialist playboy and genius engineer who suffers a severe heart injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a massively destructive weapon. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later decides to use the suit to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his multinational corporation, Stark Industries, Tony created military weapons and his own metal suit is laden with technological devices that enable him to fight crime. Initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and business in the fight against communism. Subsequent re-imaginings of Iron Man have gradually removed the Cold War themes, replacing them with more contemporary concerns such as corporate crime and terrorism.

Throughout most of the comic's history, Iron Man has been a member of the superhero team the Avengers and has been featured in several incarnations of his own various comic book series. The character has been adapted for several animated TV shows and films. The character is portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. in the live action film Iron Man and features briefly in The Incredible Hulk; Downey will reprise the role in the upcoming sequel, Iron Man 2.

Publication history


Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963): Iron Man debuts.
Cover art by Jack Kirby and Don Heck.
Iron Man's premiere was a collaboration among editor and story-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, story-artist Don Heck, and cover-artist and character-designer Jack Kirby. In 1963, Lee had been toying with the idea of a businessman superhero. He wanted to create the "quintessential capitalist", a character that would go against the spirit of the times and Marvel's readership. Lee said, "I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military ... So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist ... I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him ... And he became very popular."He set out to make the new character a wealthy, glamorous ladies' man, but one with a secret that would plague and torment him as well. Writer Gerry Conway said, "Here you have this character, who on the outside is invulnerable, I mean, just can't be touched, but inside is a wounded figure. Stan made it very much an in-your-face wound, you know, his heart was broken, you know, literally broken. But there's a metaphor going on there. And that's, I think, what made that character interesting". Lee based this playboy's looks and personality on Howard Hughes, explaining, "Howard Hughes was one of the most colorful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies' man and finally a nutcase". "Without being crazy, he was Howard Hughes," Lee said.

While Lee intended to write the story himself, he eventually handed the premier issue over to Lieber, who fleshed out the story. The art was split between Kirby and Heck. "He designed the costume," Heck said of Kirby, "because he was doing the cover. The covers were always done first. But I created the look of the characters, like Tony Stark and his secretary Pepper Potts."

Iron Man first appeared in 13- to 18-page stories in Tales of Suspense, which featured anthology science fiction and supernatural stories. The character's original costume was a bulky gray armored suit, replaced by a golden version in the second story (issue #40, April 1963). It was redesigned as sleeker, red-and-golden armor in issue #48 (Dec. 1963); that issue's interior art is by Steve Ditko and its cover by Kirby. In his premiere, Iron Man was an anti-communist hero, defeating various Vietnamese agents. Lee later regretted this early focus. Throughout the character’s comic book series, technological advancement and national defense were constant themes for Iron Man, but later issues developed Stark into a more complex and vulnerable character as they depicted his battle with alcoholism (Demon in a Bottle) and other personal difficulties.
From issue #59 (Nov. 1964) to its final issue #99 (March 1968), the anthological science-fiction backup stories in Tales of Suspense were replaced by a feature starring the superhero Captain America. After issue #99 (March 1968), the book's title was changed to Captain America. Iron Man stories moved to the title Iron Man and Sub-Mariner in April 1968, before the "Golden Avenger" made his solo debut with The Invincible Iron Man #1 (May 1968). Lee said that "of all the comic books we published at Marvel, we got more fan mail for Iron Man from women, from females, than any other title ... We didn't get much fan mail from girls, but whenever we did, the letter was usually addressed to Iron Man."

Writers have updated the war and locale in which Stark is injured. In the original 1963 story, it was the Vietnam War. In the 1990s, it was updated to be the first Gulf War, and later updated again to be the war in Afghanistanmarker. However, Stark's time with the Asian Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ho Yinsen is consistent through nearly all incarnations of the Iron Man origin, depicting Stark and Yinsen building the original armor together. One exception is the direct-to-DVD animated feature film The Invincible Iron Man, in which the armor Stark uses to escape his captors is not the first Iron Man suit.

Thematic origins

Like other Stan Lee creations in the early years of Marvel Comics, such as The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, the Iron Man story, in its original manifestations, was an exploration of Cold War themes. Where The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk focused on the American domestic and government/bureaucratic responses to Cold War pressures, respectively, Iron Man looked to industry's role in the struggle against communism. Tony Stark's real-life model Howard Hughes was an archetype of American individualism as well as a significant defense contractor who helped develop new weapons technologies.

Tony Stark/Iron Man's reliance on technology and intelligence, rather than the chance transformations of many other superheroes, reinforced the American faith in technological solutions to the military, political and ideological problems of the Cold War. Stark is an idealized portrait of the American inventor. By the 1960s, military weapons development was firmly in the realm of Big Science, with little role for the lone inventor. Issues of autonomy and government intervention in research and questions of loyalty — which real-life American physicists and engineers were also facing, if less dramatically — are prominent themes in early Iron Man storylines.

According to historian Robert Genter, Stark is emasculated by his loss of autonomy as an inventor — a blow to his manhood symbolized by his chest wound — and "Iron Man centers on Stark's inability to reconcile with this wound to his masculinity." Stan Lee used the playboy side of Stark to restore the character's sense of masculinity. Stark conquers women — either romantically or physically, and with female supervillains frequently both — and, writes Genter, "follows the lead of other cultural and literary figures such as Ian Fleming, Mickey Spillane, and Norman Mailer who made unregulated sexuality a form of authenticity."


A new Iron Man series started in early 2005 with the Warren Ellis written storyline "Extremis", with artist Adi Granov. The series title changed its title to The Invincible Iron Man with issue #17 and then Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in issue #29, the last arc of which tied into company-wide "Secret Invasion" storyline and resulted in the launch of a War Machine ongoing series.

Another series Invincible Iron Man started in July 2008.

Fictional character biography


The son of a wealthy industrialist and head of Stark Industries, Howard Stark, and Maria Stark, Anthony Stark is born on Long Islandmarker. A boy genius, he enters MITmarker at the age of 15 to study electrical engineering. After his parents' accidental deaths in a car crash, he inherits his father's company.

While observing the effects of his experimental technologies on the Americanmarker war effort, Tony Stark is injured by a booby trap and captured by the enemy, who then orders him to design weapons for them. However, Stark's injuries are dire and shrapnel in his chest threatens to pierce his heart. His fellow prisoner, Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose work Stark had greatly admired during college, constructs a magnetic chest plate to keep the shrapnel from reaching Stark's heart, keeping him alive. In secret, Stark and Yinsen use the workshop to design and construct a suit of powered armor, which Anthony uses to escape. But during the escape attempt, Yinsen sacrifices his life to save Tony's by distracting the enemy. Stark takes revenge on his kidnappers and heads back to rejoin the American forces, on his way meeting a wounded American Marine Corps helicopter pilot, James "Rhodey" Rhodes.

Back home, Stark discovers the shrapnel lodged in his chest cannot be removed without killing him, and he is forced to wear the armor's chestplate beneath his clothes to act as a regulator for his heart. He must also recharge the chestplate every day or else risk the shrapnel killing him. The cover for Iron Man is that he is Stark's bodyguard and corporate mascot. To that end, Iron Man fights threats to his company, such as Communist opponents Black Widow, the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, as well as independent villains like the Mandarin. No one suspects Stark of being Iron Man as he cultivates an image as a rich playboy and industrialist. Two notable members of Stark's supporting cast at this point are his personal chauffeur Harold "Happy" Hogan and secretary Virginia "Pepper" Potts, to both of whom he eventually reveals his dual identity. Meanwhile, Jim Rhodes would find his own niche as Stark's personal pilot of extraordinary skill and daring.

The comic took an anti-Communist stance in its early years, which was softened as opposition rose to the Vietnam War. This change evolved in a series of stories with Stark profoundly reconsidering his political opinions and the morality of manufacturing weapons for the military. Stark, however, shows himself to be occasionally arrogant and willing to let the ends justify the means. This leads to personal conflicts with the people around him, both in his civilian and superhero identities. Stark uses his personal fortune not only to outfit his own armor, but to develop weapons for S.H.I.E.L.D. and other technologies such as the Quinjets used by the Avengers, and the image inducers used by the X-Men.

Eventually, Stark's heart condition is discovered by the public and cured with an artificial heart transplant. However, Stark also develops a serious dependency on alcohol. The first time it becomes a problem is when Stark discovers that the national security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. has been buying a controlling interest in his company in order to ensure Stark's continued weapons development for them. At the same time, Stark's business rival Justin Hammer hires several supervillains to attack Stark. At one point, the Iron Man armor is even taken over and used to murder a diplomat. Although Iron Man is not immediately under suspicion, Stark is forced to hand the armor over to the authorities. Eventually Stark and Rhodes, who is now his personal pilot and confidant, track down and defeat those responsible, although Hammer would return to bedevil Stark again. With the support of his then-girlfriend, Bethany Cabe, his friends and his employees, Stark pulls through these crises and overcomes his dependency on alcohol. These events were collected and published as Demon in a Bottle.

Some time later, a ruthless rival, Obadiah Stane, manipulates Stark emotionally into a serious relapse. As a result, Stark loses control of Stark International, becomes a homeless alcoholic vagrant and gives up his armored identity to Rhodes, who becomes the new Iron Man for a lengthy period of time. Eventually, Stark recovers and joins a new startup, Circuits Maximus. Stark concentrates on new technological designs, including building a new set of armor as part of his recuperative therapy. Rhodes continues to act as Iron Man but steadily grows more aggressive and paranoid, due to the armor not being calibrated properly for his use. Eventually Rhodes goes on a rampage, and Stark has to don a replica of his original armor to stop him. When Circuits Maximus comes under assault from Stane, Stark uses the completed next-generation Silver Centurion armor to confront Stane in personal combat. Stark's skill proves superior over Stane's unpracticed use of his own variant suit (known as the Iron Monger). Rather than give Stark the satisfaction of taking Stane to trial, Stane commits suicide. Shortly thereafter, Stark regains his personal fortune, but decides against repurchasing Stane International until much later; he instead creates Stark Enterprises, headquartered in Los Angelesmarker.

Late 1980s and 1990s

In an attempt to stop other people from misusing his designs, Stark goes about disabling other armored heroes and villains who are using suits based on the Iron Man technology, the designs of which were stolen by his enemy Spymaster. His quest to destroy all instances of the stolen technology severely hurts his reputation as Iron Man. After attacking and disabling a series of minor villains such as Stilt-Man, he attacks and defeats the government operative known as Stingray. The situation worsens when Stark realizes that Stingray's armor does not incorporate any of his designs. He publicly "fires" Iron Man while covertly pursuing his agenda. He uses the cover story of wanting to help disable the rogue Iron Man to infiltrate and disable the armor of the S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives known as the Mandroids, and disabling the armor of the Guardsmen, in the process allowing some of the villains that they guard to escape. This leads the United States government to declare Iron Man a danger and an outlaw. Iron Man then travels to Russia where he inadvertently causes the death of the Soviet Titanium Man during a fight. Returning to the U.S., he faces an enemy commissioned by the government named Firepower. Unable to defeat him head on, Stark fakes Iron Man's demise, intending to retire the suit forever. When Firepower goes rogue, Stark creates a new suit, claiming that a new person is in the armor.

Stark's health continues to deteriorate, and he discovers the armor's cybernetic interface is causing irreversible damage to his nervous system. His condition is aggravated by a failed attempt on his life by a mentally unbalanced former lover which injures his spine, paralyzing him. Stark has a nerve chip implanted into his spine to regain his mobility. Still, Stark's nervous system continues its slide towards failure, and he constructs a "skin" made up of artificial nerve circuitry to assist it. Stark also begins to pilot a remote-controlled Iron Man armor, but when faced with the Masters of Silence, the telepresence suit proves inadequate. Stark then designs a more heavily-armed version of the suit to wear, the "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit", which becomes known as the War Machine armor. Ultimately, the damage to his nervous system becomes too extensive. Faking his death, Stark places himself in suspended animation to heal as Rhodes takes over the running of Stark Enterprises and the mantle of Iron Man using the War Machine armor. Stark ultimately makes a full recovery by using a chip to reprogram himself and resumes the Iron Man identity. When Rhodes learns that Stark has manipulated his friends by faking his own death, he becomes enraged and the two friends part ways, Rhodes continuing as War Machine in a solo career.

The story arc "The Crossing" reveals Iron Man as a traitor among the Avengers' ranks, due to years of manipulation by the time-traveling dictator Kang the Conqueror. Stark, as a sleeper agent in Kang's thrall, kills Marilla, the nanny of Crystal and Quicksilver's daughter Luna, as well as Rita DeMara, the female Yellowjacket, then an ally of the Avengers (the miniseries Avengers Forever later retcon these events as the work of a disguised Immortus, not Kang, and that the mental control had gone back only a few months).

Needing help to defeat both Stark and the ostensible Kang, the team travels back in time to recruit a teenaged Anthony Stark from an alternate timeline to assist them. The young Stark steals an Iron Man suit in order to aid the Avengers against his older self. The sight of his younger self shocks the older Stark enough for him to regain momentary control of his actions, and he sacrifices his life to stop Kang. The young Stark later builds his own suit to become the new Iron Man, and, remaining in the present day, gains legal control of "his" company.

During the battle with the creature called Onslaught, the teenaged Stark dies, along with many other superheroes. However, Franklin Richards preserves these "dead" heroes in the "Heroes Reborn" pocket universe, in which Anthony Stark is once again an adult hero; Franklin recreates the heroes in the pocket universe in the forms he is most familiar with rather than what they are at the present. The reborn adult Stark, upon returning to the normal Marvel Universe, merges with the original Stark, who had died during "The Crossing", but was resurrected by Franklin Richards. This new Anthony Stark possesses the memories of both the original and teenage Anthony Starks, and thus considers himself to be essentially both of them. With the aid of the law firm Nelson & Murdock, he successfully regains his fortune and, with Stark Enterprises having been sold to the Fujikawa Corporation following Stark's death, sets up a new company, Stark Solutions. He also returns from the pocket universe with a restored and healthy heart. After the Avengers reform, Stark demands a hearing be convened to look into his actions just prior to the Onslaught incident. Cleared of wrongdoing, he rejoins the Avengers.


At one point, Stark's armor becomes sentient despite fail-safes to prevent its increasingly sophisticated computer systems from doing so. Initially, Stark welcomes this "living" armor for its improved tactical abilities. However, the armor begins to grow more aggressive, killing indiscriminately and eventually desiring to replace Stark altogether. In the final confrontation on a desert island, Stark suffers another heart attack. The armor sacrifices it's own existence to save its creator's life, giving up essential components to give Stark a new, artificial heart. This new heart solves Stark's health problems, but it does not have an internal power supply, so Stark becomes once again dependent on periodic recharging. The sentient armor incident so disturbs Stark that he temporarily returns to using an unsophisticated early model version of his armor to avoid a repeat incident. He also dabbles with using liquid metal circuitry known as S.K.I.N. that forms into a protective shell around his body, but eventually returns to more conventional hard metal armors.

During this time, Stark engages in a romance with Rumiko Fujikawa (first appearance in Iron Man (vol. 3) #4), a wealthy heiress and daughter of the man who had taken over his company during the "Heroes Reborn" period. An intelligent and resourceful woman, she nonetheless begins the relationship in part to rebel against her stern father, who disapproves of Stark. Her relationship with Stark endures many highs and lows, including an infidelity with Stark's rival, Tiberius Stone, in part because the fun-loving Rumiko believes that Stark is too serious and dull. Their relationship ends with Rumiko's death at the hands of an Iron Man impostor in Iron Man (vol. 3) #87.

In Iron Man (vol. 3) #55 (July 2002), Stark publicly reveals his dual identity as Iron Man, not realizing that by doing so, he has invalidated the agreements protecting his armor from government duplication (since those contracts state that the Iron Man armor would be used by an employee of Tony Stark, not by Stark himself). When he discovers that the United States military is again using his technology, Stark accepts a Presidential appointment as Secretary of Defense instead of confronting them as he did before. In this way, he hopes to monitor and direct how his designs are used.

Avengers Disassembled

He is forced to resign after launching into a tirade against the Latverian ambassador at the United Nations, being manipulated by the mentally imbalanced Scarlet Witch. Following this, the Scarlet Witch causes the destruction of the Avengers mansion and the death of several Avengers; Stark claims publicly that he will stand down as Iron Man. The "new" Iron Man remains Stark; however, the catastrophic events that preceded this, combined with Stark's assertion, convinces the public that Iron Man and Stark are now different people. Stark leaves the wreckage of Avengers Mansion as it is, and unveils Stark Tower, a state-of-the-art office building that becomes headquarters for the New Avengers team, of which he is a member.

The miniseries Iron Man: The Inevitable reintroduces the Ghost, the Living Laser and Spymaster. It presents a change in status quo, wherein the focus of Iron Man stories has shifted from superheroics to politics and industrialism. The miniseries sees Iron Man having elevated himself "above" apprehending supervillains, and resentful Spymaster conspiring to drag Iron Man back down to that plebeian level.


New Avengers: Illuminati #1 (June 2006) reveals that years before, in the wake of the Kree-Skrull War, Stark initiates a meeting at the palace of the Black Panther in Wakanda with Professor X, Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, and Namor to form a clandestine, unnamed group (dubbed the "Illuminati" by Marvel) to devise strategy and policy regarding overarching menaces (Black Panther rejects membership and derides the other heroes for joining). Stark's original goal is to create a governing body for all superheroes in the world to answer to. However, the different beliefs and philosophies, besides the fact that many heroes choose to conceal their real identities, makes Stark's plan impractical. Despite this, the group agrees to share vital information.

Civil War

Learning of the government's plans to instigate a Superhuman Registration Act that would force super-powered individuals to reveal their identities to the government and register as licensed agents, Tony Stark at first seeks to defeat the proposal. His opinion of the Act later changes when he sees it as a means to achieve the goals of the Illuminati. Of his fellow Illuminati members, only Reed Richards, of the Fantastic Four agrees with Stark, who becomes the figurehead of the Registration Act. Many superpowered individuals opposed to registration rally behind Captain America, leading to a destructive "superhero civil war" that ends with Captain America standing down to prevent further collateral damage. Stark is appointed the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and he organizes a new government-sanctioned group of Avengers (while the New Avengers team, under the de facto leadership of Luke Cage, continues to defy the Superhuman Registration Act and operate underground). Shortly afterward, Captain America is assassinated while in custody, leading Stark to great guilt and misgivings.

Secret Invasion

After Tony Stark survives an encounter with Ultron taking over his body, he is confronted in the hospital by Spider-Woman, holding the corpse of a Skrull posing as Elektra. Becoming keenly aware of the upcoming invasion of the Skrulls, Tony gathers the Illuminati and reveals the corpse to them, declaring they're at war. After Black Bolt reveals himself as a Skrull and is killed by Namor, a squadron of Skrulls attack, forcing Tony to evacuate the other Illuminati members and destroy the area, killing all the Skrulls. Realizing they're incapable of trusting each other, the members all separate to form individual plans for the oncoming invasion.

Tony becomes discredited and publicly vilified after his inability to anticipate or prevent a secret infiltration and invasion of Earth by the shape-shifting alien Skrull race, and by the Skrull disabling of his StarkTech technology, which had a virtual monopoly on worldwide defense. After the invasion, the U.S. government removes him as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and disbands the Avengers, handing control of the Initiative over to Norman Osborn.

Dark Reign

With his Extremis powers failing, Stark uploads a virus to destroy all records of the Registration Act, thus preventing Osborn from learning the identities of his fellow heroes. The only copy remaining is in Stark's brain, which he is trying to delete bit by bit while on the run in one of his extra armors. As Norman Osborn has him hunted as a fugitive, Stark travels worldwide on his quest to wipe out his mental database, going so far as to inflict brain damage on himself. When Osborn personally catches up to the debilitated Stark and beats him savagely, Pepper Potts broadcasts the beatings worldwide, costing Osborn credibility and giving Stark public sympathy. Stark goes into a vegetative state, having previously granted Donald Blake (alter ego of the Norse-god superhero Thor) power of attorney. A holographic message stored in Pepper's armour reveals that Stark had developed a means of 'rebooting' his mind from his current state prior to his destruction of the database, with Blake and Bucky resolving to use it to restore him to normal despite Stark's offer in the message to stay in his current state if it would make things easier and Pepper's own uncertainty about the fact that Tony can come back when so many others cannot.

Powers and abilities


Iron Man possesses powered armor that gives him superhuman strength and durability, flight, and an array of weapons. The armor is invented and (with occasional short-term exceptions) worn by Stark. Other people who have assumed the Iron Man identity include Stark's long-time partner and best friend James Rhodes; close associates Harold "Happy" Hogan; Eddie March; and (briefly) Michael O'Brien.

The weapons systems of the suit have changed over the years, but Iron Man's standard offensive weapons have always been the repulsor rays that are fired from the palms of his gauntlets. Other weapons built into various incarnations of the armor include: the uni-beam projector in its chest; pulse bolts (that pick up on kinetic energy along the way; so the farther they travel, the harder they hit); an electromagnetic pulse generator; and a defensive energy shield that can be extended up to 360 degrees. Other capabilities include: generating ultra-freon (i.e., a freeze-beam); creating and manipulating magnetic fields; emitting sonic blasts; and projecting 3-dimensional holograms (to create decoys).

In addition to the general-purpose model he wears, Stark has developed several specialized suits for space travel, deep-sea diving, stealth, and other special purposes. Stark has modified suits, like the Hulkbuster heavy armor. The Hulkbuster armor is composed of add-ons to his so-called modular armor, designed to enhance its strength and durability enough to engage the Incredible Hulk in a fight. A later model, designed for use against Thor, is modeled on the Destroyer and uses a mystical powersource. Stark also develops an electronics pack during the Armor Wars that, when attached to armors that use Stark technologies, will burn-out those components—rendering the suit useless. This pack is ineffective on later models, however. While it is typically associated with James Rhodes, the War Machine armor also began as one of Stark's specialty armors.


For a time, due to an artificial nervous system installed after he suffered extensive damage to his nervous system, Stark had superhumanly acute sensory perceptions as well as extraordinary awareness of the physical processes within his own body.

After being critically injured during a battle with the Extremis-enhanced Mallen, Stark injects his nervous system with a modified techno-organic virus (the Extremis process) that not only saves his life, it gives him the ability to store the inner layers of the durable Iron Man armor in the hollows of his bones as well as control it through direct brain impulses. Stark can control the layer of the armor underneath his skin and make it emerge from numerous exit points around his limbs as a gold-colored neural interface under-sheath. While in this form, Stark has technopathic control of the armor and can suit up at any time, calling the larger components to him. Furthermore, the Extremis process has increased his body's recuperative and healing abilities. He is also able to connect remotely to external communications systems such as satellites, cellular phones, and computers throughout the world. Because the armor's operating system is now directly connected to Stark's nervous system, its response time has been significantly improved. After the Skrull virus infected him during Secret Invasion, the Extremis effect was catastrophically purged from his body, and because of this he no longer has these powers.


Tony Stark is an inventive genius whose expertise in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, computers, and engineering rival that of Reed Richards, Hank Pym, and Bruce Banner. He is regarded as one of the most intelligent scientists in the Marvel Universe. He graduated with advanced degrees in physics and engineering at the age of 21 from Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker (MIT) and further developed his knowledge ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum mechanics as time progressed. Furthermore, this extends to his ingenuity in dealing with difficult situations such as difficult foes and deathtraps where he is capable of using his available tools like his suit in unorthodox and effective ways. He is also well-respected in the business world, able to command people's attentions when he speaks on economic matters by virtue of the fact that he is savvy enough to have, over the years, built up several multi-million dollar companies from virtually nothing. He is known for the loyalty he commands from and returns to those who work for him, as well as his business ethics. He also strives to be environmentally responsible in his businesses. For example he immediately fired an employee who made profitable, but illegal, sales to Doctor Doom.

When Stark was unable to use his armor for a period of time, he asked for some combat training from Captain America and has become physically formidable on his own when the situation demands it. He also received further hand-to-hand combat training from Happy Hogan (a professional boxer) and James Rhodes (a Marine). As evidenced by his two serious bouts with alcoholism and subsequent recovery, Stark is possessed of strength of will, never giving up and often emerging from defeat even stronger.

In addition, Stark possesses great business and political acumen. On multiple occasions he reacquired control of his companies after losing them and led corporate takeovers.

Due to his membership in the Illuminati, Iron Man was given the Reality Infinity Gem to safeguard. It allows the user to fulfill wishes, even if the wish is in direct contradiction with scientific laws. Iron Man has not used it in any occasion, even after the Secret Invasion and his fugitive status, though, as he does not bear the Gem upon his very person, it is possible that due to the Dark Reign and Osborn's taking over, he is unable to acquire access to it anymore.


Over forty years of publication, Iron Man has fought many villains. Some have been parts of significant or recurring storylines, including the Iron Monger, Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, Ghost, and the Mandarin.

Other versions

In other media

In the 1960s Iron Man featured in a series of cartoons. In 1981, Iron Man guest appeared in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. He went on to feature again in his own series in the 1990s as part of the Marvel Action Hour with the Fantastic Four. Iron Man also makes an appearance in the episode "Shell Games" of Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes.Apart from comic books, Iron Man appears in Capcom's "Marvel vs." video games including Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (as a Gold War Machine or Hyper Armor War Machine), and Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. Iron Man is a playable character in Iron Man, the 1992 arcade game Captain America and the Avengers, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and its sequel, and Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, as well as being featured as an unlockable character in X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse and Tony Hawk's Underground. In the 2009 animated series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, most of the characters, including Tony Stark, are teenagers.

In 2008, a film adaptation titled Iron Man was released starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. It received generally positive reviews from film critics, grossing $318 million domestically and $570 million worldwide. Its video game adaptation, however met generally negative reviews. Downey will reprise the role in Iron Man 2, which has been set for a 2010 release and will be directed by Jon Favreau. Downey Jr. has now also signed up for a second sequel and an adaptation of The Avengers.

The character of Tony Stark, again played by Robert Downey Jr., also appears at the end of the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk.

Cultural influence

The rapper Ghostface Killah, a member of Wu-Tang Clan, titled his 1996 debut solo album Ironman, and has since continued to use lyrics related to the Iron Man comics and samples from the animated TV shows on his records. He has also adopted the nickname Tony Starks as one of his numerous alter-egos.

Paul McCartney's song "Magneto and Titanium Man" was inspired by the X-Men's arch-nemesis and the original version of the Iron Man villain. Another Iron Man villain, the Crimson Dynamo, is mentioned in the lyrics to this song. The British band Razorlight mentions Tony Stark in a verse of their song, "Hang By, Hang By".

An abridged version of the Black Sabbath song, "Iron Man", is played over the closing credits of the 2008 movie, as well as several of its previews.

The character of Nathan Stark on the television show Eureka is inspired by Tony Stark.

Forbes has ranked Iron Man among the wealthiest fictional characters on their annual ranking, while BusinessWeek has ranked him as one of the ten most intelligent characters in American comics.


List of Iron Man titles

  • Tales of Suspense #39-99 (March 1963 - March 1968)
  • Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (April 1968)
  • Iron Man Vol. 1, #1-332 (May 1968 - Sept. 1996)
  • Iron Man Annual #1-15 (1970 - 1994)
  • Giant-Size Iron Man (Oct. 1975)
  • Iron Man: Crash (1988)
  • Iron Manual (1993)
  • Iron Man 2020 (Aug. 1994)
  • Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man (Feb. 1996)
  • Iron Man Vol. 2, #1-13 (Nov. 1996 - Nov. 1997)
  • Iron Man Vol. 3, #1-89 (Feb. 1998 - Dec. 2004)
  • Iron Man Annual '98-2001 (1998 - 2001)
  • Iron Man: The Iron Age #1-2 (Aug. - Sept. 1998)
  • Iron Man: Bad Blood #1-4 (Sept. - Dec. 2000)
  • Iron Man Vol. 4, #1-35 (Jan. 2005 - Nov. 2008)
    • Iron Man #1-16 (Jan. 2005-May 2007)
    • The Invincible Iron Man #17-28 (June 2007-June 2008)
    • Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #29-35 (July 2008-Jan. 2009)
  • Ultimate Iron Man Vol. 1: #1-5 (Mar. - Dec. 2005)
  • Iron Man: House of M #1-3 (Sep. - Nov. 2005)
  • Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big In Japan #1-4 (December 2005 - March 2006)
  • Iron Man: The Inevitable #1-6 (Feb. - July 2006)
  • Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties Of War #1 (Dec. 2006)
  • Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1-6 (March - Aug. 2007)
  • Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #1-13 (May 2007 - July 2008)
  • Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1-6 (Sep. 2007 - March 2008)
  • Ultimate Iron Man Vol. 2: #1-5 (Dec. 2007 - Apr. 2008)
  • Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Annual #1 (Jan. 2008)
  • Iron Man: Legacy Of Doom #1-4 (April - July 2008)
  • Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #1 - (May 2008 - present)
  • Invincible Iron Man #1 - (May 2008 - present)
  • Iron Man: Golden Avenger #1 (Sep. 2008)
  • Iron Man: The End #1 (Nov. 2008)
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures #1 (July 2009)
  • Iron Man & The Armor Wars #1-4 (Aug. 2009 - Nov. 2009)
  • Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #1 - (Sep. 2009 - present)
  • Iron Man: Iron Protocols #1 (Oct. 2009)

As a team Member

  • Avengers Vol. 1 #1-402 (September 1963 - September 1996)
  • West Coast Avengers Vol. 1 # 1-4 (September 1984 - December 1984)
  • West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 # 1-102 (October 1985 - January 1994)
    • West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 #1-46 (October 1985 - July 1989)
    • Avengers West Coast #47-102 (August 1989 - January 1994)
  • Force Works #1-22 (July 1994 - April 1996)
  • Avengers Vol. 2 #1-13 (Marvel Comics/Extreme Studios/Wildstorm; November 1996 - November 1997)
  • Avengers Vol. 3 #1-84, 500-503 (February 1998 - December 2004)
  • New Avengers #1-25
  • Mighty Avengers #1-23


Title Material collected Date Released ISBN
Essential Iron Man Volume 1 Tales of Suspense #39-72 2000 ISBN 0785118608
Essential Iron Man Volume 2 Tales of Suspense #73-99, Tales to Astonish #82, Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1, and Iron Man vol. 1 #1-11 September 2004 ISBN 0785114874
Essential Iron Man Volume 3 Iron Man vol. 1 #12-38 and Daredevil vol. 1 #73 April 2008 ISBN 078512764X
Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle Iron Man vol. 1 #120-128 May 2006 ISBN 0785120432
Iron Man: Doomquest Iron Man vol. 1 #149-150, 249-250 February 2008 ISBN 0785128344
Iron Man: Armor Wars Iron Man vol. 1 #225-232 2007 ISBN 078512506X
Iron Man: The Dragon Seed Saga Iron Man vol. 1 #270-275 October 2008 ISBN 0785131310
Iron Man: War Machine Iron Man vol. 1 #280-291 May 2008 ISBN 0785131329
Heroes Reborn: Iron Man Iron Man vol. 2 #1-12 November 2006 ISBN 0785123385
Iron Man: The Mask in the Iron Man Iron Man vol. 3 #26-30 November 2001 ISBN 0785107762
Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man Iron Man vol. 3 #84-89 January 2007 ISBN 0785116532
Iron Man: Extremis Iron Man vol. 4 #1-6 June 2007 ISBN 0785122583
Iron Man: Execute Program Iron Man vol. 4 #7-12 March 2007 ISBN 0785116710
Civil War: Iron Man Iron Man vol. 4 #13-14, Iron Man/Captain America Special, and Civil War: The Confession Special July 2007 ISBN 0785123148
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Iron Man vol. 4 #15-18, Strange Tales #135, and Iron Man vol. 1 #129 August 2007 ISBN 0785122990
Hulk: World War Hulk - X-Men Iron Man vol. 4 #19-20, plus additional WWH crossover titles May 2008 ISBN 0785128885
Iron Man: Haunted Iron Man vol. 4 #21-28 and Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Annual #1 July 2008 ISBN 0785125574
Iron Man: With Iron Hands Iron Man vol. 4 #29-32 and Iron Man vol. 3 #36 January 2009 ISBN 0785122982
Secret Invasion: War Machine Iron Man vol. 4 #33-35 and Iron Man vol. 1 #144 February 2009 ISBN 0785134557
Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares Invincible Iron Man #1-7 April 2009 ISBN 0785134123
Invincible Iron Man: Worlds Most Wanted Book One Invincible Iron Man #8-13 August 2009 ISBN 0785134131
Invincible Iron Man: Worlds Most Wanted Book Two Invincible Iron Man #14-19 February 2010 ISBN 0785134131
Iron Man: The Inevitable Iron Man: The Inevitable #1-6 August 2006 ISBN 078512084X
Iron Man: Hypervelocity Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1-6 October 2007 ISBN 0785120831
Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1-6 June 2008 ISBN 0785126228



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