Created in 1963, Iron Man was somewhere between the A and the B list of Marvel’s superheroes. The character did have a strong fan following, but was never that much popular to be counted as the main characters that drove the comic business.
A big gamble on the part of Marvel Studios, Iron Man was the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to grace the big screen. The movie was an instant hit and later on, the character’s role in the MCU was greatly expanded to bank on the new found popularity.
A man in possessions of immense wealth, an inherited passion for technology and an attitude like no other superhero, Iron Man did not even try to hide his true identity and (as Tony Stark) has openly declared to the world that, “I’m Iron Man.”
Iron Man / Tony Stark has had his share of adventures and is as complex as any other Marvel character. Following are 10 facts that you might not have known about him:
An Alcoholic Superhero?
Tony Stark was shown as a man with serious alcoholic issues in the comics. There is even a storyline where his addiction to spirits is explored. A coincidence that the actor playing the character in the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. had serious issues with alcohol and drugs in his past?
Whatever it may be, Downey plays the part perfectly and the only reason we do not see the alcoholism in the movies is because the studio execs did not want the movie to have a serious rating and loose to a large children audience.
He Once Bought Area 51
What do you do when you are a tech freak with ton loads of money? You buy the one place that reeks with cutting edge technology that is not for the common man. In Avengers #19, Tony Stark went and bought the highly secret installation. Given the secretive nature and theories of technology that defies even the most scientific minds in the world, this is right up his alley.
Jarvis Became J.A.R.V.I.S
When you look at it, there is not much of a difference between Marvel’s Iron Man and DC’s Batman. Both are filthy rich, living lives as play boys, superheroes who have no real super powers except their cunning minds and gadgets. Their parents are dead too. The recent update to Tony Stark / Iron Man story features an artificial intelligence called J.A.R.V.I.S, or Just A Rather Very Intelligent System. The butler was replaced by a computer to try to mitigate the similarities between the two different yet similar superheroes.
Forbes, the business magazine once compiled a list of the most rich fictional characters and Tony Stark made it to the fourth position with an estimated 4 billion USD in 2013, to his name. Who beat him? Would you believe it, Carlisle Cullen, Smaug and Scrooge McDuck? A vampire, a dragon and a duck! The list is strange as it is fictional, but it tells a lot about the character. The top three are known for lying low and not spending a dime, while Stark spends millions every year. Do you think the suits come cheap?
Two Decades of Getting The Movie Off Papers
Before the first movie of Iron Man, it took nearly 20 years for the idea to get changed into reality. After 2 decades and passed by 4 studios, Marvel decided to fund the project from its own pockets. Something the studio looks back and smiles now that the MCU is a major hit.
To Be, Or Not To Be, A Geek.
Tony Stark is shown as tech freak (How is the suit justified, if not?) and is evident from little easter eggs everywhere in comics and the movies. In the movies, the sound his suit’s Heads Up Display makes when locking on to an enemy is the laser canon’s sound from Space Invaders. Tony Stark also pointed out a computer operator on the Hellicarrier in Avengers where he pointed out that the man was playing Galaga. Seriously, only a 40 something person who was a geek in his childhood would only know of such games.
Ironically, Robert Downey Jr. hated geeks. He once snatched another student’s comic book in his school and tore it to pieces, just because he did not like geeks and comics. An irony within the irony, the comic book was of Iron Man.
A Compliant Man.
Iron Man wasn’t that much of a rogue superhero as he is shown in the MCU. Believe it or not, he was on the military’s payroll. In one story arc, Tony Stark was even the Secretary of Defense. The man lost his department when Scarlet Witch banked upon his insatiable thirst for alcohol and got him extremely drunk at a United Nations’ meeting. Tony ended up heckling Latverian Ambassadors and subsequently, ended his career as a military man.
In the movie Civil War, we get to see the streak of pro-government in Tony Stark when he becomes a staunch supporter of the Heroes Registration Act, leading to in fighting between the Avengers.
Once described by Stan Lee as “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.” He was not talking about Tony Stark, but about Howard Hughes. Hughes was an industrialist who was in weapons development program, was an eccentric and a womanizer. The Tony Stark / Iron Man character was developed keeping him in mind. Talk about being immortalized in comics!
Marvel and DC comics have experimented with crossovers before, but in the case of Iron Man and the Green Lantern Corps, Iron Man was an actual member, with all the powers of the green rings. In this version of the universe, he was Hal Stark, an industrial mogul who owned Stark Aircraft industries. Near fatally harmed in a test program for a new generation of combat aircraft, he uses the ring’s power to make sure the bits and pieces of metal near his heart do not go further in. The suit is powered by the green light of the lantern ring itself.
Tony Stark, the one living on Earth 616 (ours), has made a total of 53 suites till date. The number is for the irons suits he has made for himself. This includes the heaviest of the armor, spinning around in a satellite, ready to fall back to earth on the location of his choice. If one is to include suits he did not make for himself, but are essentially the same technology, the number rises to 68! This enhanced list contains suits such as the War Machine, Pepper Pott’s Salvage and of course, Spider-Man’s.
Bonus Cool Fact: Did you know that although Stan Lee came up with the idea of a super hero who was a quintessential capitalist, he did not write the first appearance of Iron Man? Stan Lee was overloaded with work that he handed over the writing duties for Iron Man to Larry Lieber, who worked with Don Heck and Jack Kirby to develop the character.