When it comes to movies in 2016, one of the biggest themes is superheroes, and why wouldn’t it be? The films are guaranteed to explode at the box office and nobody wants to be the uncool guy who is still out of the loop. If you go back to 2007, before the first Iron Man, the success of this genre would have been impossible to predict. Marvel owes a lot to Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. for captivating audiences and coming out with a film that helped start the whole trend.
There is no doubting after the success of all these films that people know who Iron Man is, but do you really know who he is? Sure, the movies are great, but Tony Stark has been around a lot longer than that and has been part of some of the most memorable storylines in comic book history. Many of the facts that you’re going to come across aren’t going to be from the movie, but instead add a deeper layer to the character, who you already appreciate but are about to understand even better.
Stark is also one of the few characters to battle things outside of a supervillain. His battle with alcohol addiction is also looked at with the added context of the iconic Iron Man comic Demon In A Bottle that came out in 1979. On top of all of that, Iron Man is also going to be a focal point of the upcoming Captain America film that centers around the Civil War storyline. That, too, is elaborated on below.
So, no matter what area of Stark’s life appeals to you, I bet you’re about to find out even more about the invincible, but flawed, character of Tony Stark. Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know.
15. He Was Inspired By The Cold War
In hindsight, it may be easy to think of how Tony Stark was inspired by war and in particular, the Cold War, which was at its peak at the time of Stark’s creation. After all, being a military arms dealer kind of goes hand in hand with that. When Stan Lee was creating a character, he wanted to take several elements that people hated (war, military) and, as he states:
“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… It would be kind of 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.”
While this is an insane strategy, it clearly worked out just fine for Stan!
14. The Change In The Character For Vietnam
While Stark was originally shown to be extremely anti-communist, his views on the world shifted with real-life moments. The Vietnam War had an impact on America’s society for a few reasons, but the one that I will point out here is that it was the first war in which public opinion was loudly against the war. As a result, the people at Marvel realized they needed to change the storylines to feature Stark reconsidering some of his political opinions and featured stories where Stark considered the morality of being an arms dealer.
13. His Battles With Alcohol
If you’re a big fan of the character, you may already know that Stark has a problem with alcohol. When asked about it, Jon Favreau, who directed the first Iron Man, stated, “Stark has issues with booze. That’s part of who he is.” That trait has been explored in the series. In the comics, the best example is the comic Demon In A Bottle which came out in 1979. The storyline features Stark’s armor malfunctioning, and he accidentally kills a foreign ambassador. This, along with other issues, causes Stark to start drinking more heavily, to the extent where he yells at Jarvis who quits (but comes back the next day). Thankfully, Stark is confronted by his girlfriend, Beth, who is able to help make him realize his problems with drinking. After that, he vows to start on the path of recovery.
The storyline is described as being one of the best out there for Iron Man, and was one of the first times when a superhero had to battle something that wasn’t a supervillain.
12. Iron Man Was His “Bodyguard”
While there is an iconic scene at the end of the first movie where Stark declares he’s Iron Man, he was not so smooth in the comics. When the character first emerged, Stark claimed that Iron Man was his personal robotic bodyguard, as well as the corporate mascot. This excuse also allowed Stark to fight characters like the Black Widow, who was a communist and thus a threat to his company who needed to be dealt with. There is no doubting that he came out as Iron Man eventually, but you need to admit, having an Iron Man as a bodyguard would be pretty badass!
11. Obadiah Stane Killed Himself
To start, I’ll explain who Obadiah Stane is. A rival of Stark, Stane manipulated Stark into a dangerous relapse and as a result, Stark ended up losing control of his company to Stane. Stane makes himself his own suit, and may be better known as the supervillain the Iron Monger. After a lengthy battle, when it is clear that Iron Man is going to emerge on top, Stane decides that he would rather kill himself than have to go to trial. Personally, I think this may be a little too dramatic, but I also don’t know what it would be like to have my Iron Man suit lose in battle and know I was going to jail.
10. He Was Paralyzed By A Former Lover
Tony Stark is not exactly the healthiest individual out there. The cybernetic interface that makes up his armor has been shown to cause irreversible damage to his nervous system. Yet, that’s not as bad as when his ex-lover, Kathy Dare, attacked Stark and injured his spine, paralyzing the superhero. Thankfully, Tony is no stranger to technology and he ended up having a nerve chip implanted into his spine, which allowed him to regain his mobility. That’s great because I don’t know how much crime fighting he would be able to accomplish from a wheelchair.
9. The Suit Once Had A Nose
If there is one man’s opinion that you are going to take seriously, it should be Stan Lee’s. In 1974 when Stan Lee was in the Marvel office, he commented that there should be a nose on Iron Man’s costume. Sure enough, by the time Iron Man #68 came out (that same year) there was a new mask and even a small explanation as to why Iron Man’s face now had a nose. Unfortunately, the nose was not well received and it ended up being scrapped by #85 but not before it became one of those small facts that you probably never knew about Iron Man!
8. His Armor Became Alive
If you have seen Iron Man 3, it may not be a shock to you to know that Stark has the ability to create Iron Man suits that can function on their own. In the early 2000s, one of Stark’s suits becoming sentient made for a very bad time. The suit ended up being helpful at first, but eventually started killing without warning and eventually had hopes to replace Stark entirely, though I’m not sure how it expected to get maintenance without its owner. Stark ended up battling his suit but suffered a heart attack during the battle. Thankfully for Tony, he made a nice suit because it sacrificed itself in order to make a new artificial heart for him. I’m not sure if that’s how Tony thought he would defeat his overpowered suit, but hard to argue with the results!
7. He Was The Secretary Of Defense
When you consider the fact that nobody in their right mind would try and mess with Iron Man, maybe it makes a little bit more sense that he was made the Secretary of Defense by the POTUS! The ‘promotion’ occurs when the US Government starts using Stark’s technology again and narrowly avoids a big disaster in Washington. Stark takes the position in hopes that at least this way he would be able to monitor his technology and how it is being used. Stark loses the position after the Scarlet Witch manipulates his mind, causing him to go on a tirade against the Latverian ambassador, but at least he didn’t kill him.
6. The Variety Of His Armor
It can be easy to look at Stark and think that he only has one primary type of suit, but you would be very wrong. There is no shortage of really awesome Iron Man suits, one of which I’ll elaborate on next. It is interesting to point out that he also has armor that is specifically made for space travel, deep-sea diving or any other type of extreme activities in which he may find himself engaging. Given that he may be going up against some pretty big foes, outfits like his Hulkbuster suit, which was heavily featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron, just serve to further prove that you are going to be able to count on Stark to have something up his sleeve. If you think these are cool, just keep reading because the #1 fact may just be about his coolest armor out there.
5. The Reasoning Behind Civil War
If you are even kind of a Captain America or Iron Man fan, there is no doubting that you are incredibly excited for the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War. The movie will be an entry to one of the most popular comic story arcs, the Civil War.
If you’re curious, the war started because a group of superheroes (The New Warriors) were unable to control their powers and accidentally destroyed several city blocks, including a school. This leads to a public outcry against superheroes, including Tony Stark who suggests the “Superhuman Registration Act” which would require every super-powered individual in America to register their identity and act as licensed agents. If you were not trained, the government would also try and offer some guidance in how to use and control your powers.
You can imagine that the idea of having to register with the government isn’t going to fly with some superheroes, including Captain America. Don’t let the photo above fool you, there is no telling who is going to come out on top when the film hits theaters.
4. There Was No Plot For Iron Man
This is an even more astonishing fact when you consider that Iron Man is arguably the strongest of any of the superhero films. Despite this, Jeff Bridges, who plays the main antagonist, credits the improv prowess of Downey and Farveau as being instrumental in the film looking the way that he did. Bridges stated:
“They had an outline. We would show up for big scenes every day and we wouldn’t know what we were going to say. We would have to go into our trailer and work on this scene and call up writers on the phone, ‘You got any ideas?'”
There is no doubting that the finished product is something that everyone could be proud of. Now, where do I go so I can “write” a superhero movie and just hire really great improv actors to do it? Kristin Wiig could totally pull off Wonder Woman, right?
3. He Was Inspired By Howard Hughes
Every character out there was probably inspired by someone in real life in one way or another, and Stark is no exception to this. Stan Lee created the character in the vision of Howard Hughes, who was one of the most successful people in the world. Hughes was an entrepreneur, and a genius in regards to business that helped make him one of the wealthiest self-made men. One thing that Hughes didn’t have was Iron Man’s suits.
2. There Was A Real Resignation Letter In A Comic
Dave Cockrum was an incredibly talented artist who helped co-create the characters Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus and was influential in bringing to life countless more. Cockrum ended up growing tired of how Marvel was changing as a corporation and was no longer one for which he felt comfortable working. As you also now know, Jarvis, Tony Stark’s butler, quits in one comic after Tony berates him while drunk. What you’re about to learn is that the letter that Jarvis gives Tony is the same letter that Cockrum used to quit. The only difference is that the writers changed the word Marvel, to The Avengers. The note states:
“To: Anthony Stark
This is to notify you that I am tendering my resignation from my position. This resignation is to take effect immediately.
I am leaving because this is no longer the team-spirited “one big happy family” I once loved working for. Over the past year or so I have watched Avengers’ morale disintegrate to the point that, rather than being a team or a family, it is now a large collection of unhappy individuals simmering in their own personal stew of repressed anger, resentment and frustration. I have seen a lot of my friends silently enduring unfair, malicious or vindictive treatment.
My personal grievances are relatively slight by comparison to some, but I don’t intend to silently endure. I’ve watched the Avengers be disbanded, uprooted and shuffled around. I’ve become firmly convinced that this was done with the idea of ‘showing the hired help who’s Boss.’
I don’t intend to wait around to see what’s next.
cc: The Avengers
1. Bleeding Edge Armor
I talked a little bit above about the different types of Iron Man suits that he has, but the Bleeding Edge Armor is so cool that it deserves its own section. The Bleeding Edge Armor is “kept inside Tony’s body until mentally commanded, at which point it manifests itself as the Iron Man Armor.”
He knows it is always there when he needs it. It is also powered by a “high-yield R.T. node mounted in his chest. The high output of the node has greatly augmented Stark’s intelligence and provided him with superhuman-level multitasking and learning capabilities.” As if he wasn’t already smart enough, right? The armor is also armed to the teeth with weaponry and defensive capabilities ranging from pulse bolts to deflector shields.
On top of that, “other type of weapons and upgrades seems to be created by Stark’s imagination, such as a boxing glove, large guns extending from his arms, or cannons.”
He may not have “superpowers” but that all sounds way cooler than 98% of the Superheroes out there!