REAL NAME: Anthony Edward Stark
AFFILIATION: The Avengers
FIRST APPEARANCE: Tales of Suspense #39 (1963)
From a young age, Tony Stark was pushed by his father Howard to become tough and responsible; something that strained their relationship, and lead Tony to take refuge in science. Becoming a brilliant young mind, Tony was forced to step up when his parents died, and Tony inherited his father’s company, Stark Industries. There, Tony met some of his closest allies, such as his secretary Pepper Potts and his bodyguard and chauffer Happy Hogan.
Becoming a prolific weapons designer, Stark began attracting enemies the world over. One such enemy, Wong-Chu, captured the billionaire after he was injured while visiting a war-zone. Shrapnel from a mine was embedded in Tony’s chest, and the dying American was imprisoned with fellow inventor Ho Yinsen, and ordered to make weapons for his captors. Hoping to escape, the pair resolved to use whatever equipment was at hand to craft a suit of armor; one that, through use of magnets, would keep the shrapnel in Tony’s chest from entering his heart, while also allowing him to fight his way out of captivity.
Unfortunately, Yinsen died during the escape, but Stark made his way to freedom, allying with Airforce pilot and his future best friend Rhodey Rhodes. Returning to America, Tony Stark debuted the ‘Iron Man’ to the public, hiding his true identity under the facade that Iron Man was actually his new bodyguard. Hailed as a hero, Iron Man would go on to be a true American icon, while Tony Stark, out of the armor, would struggle with depression, alcoholism and an out-of-control playboy lifestyle.
Many of Iron Man’s enemies originated as competitors or mimics of Tony Stark’s work. As such, Justin Hammer has long been an adversary of Stark, starting out as an industrialist rival from before Tony even put on the armour. Tony’s evolution into Iron Man prompted Hammer to get into the super-power business, financing many of Iron Man’s lesser foes such as the whip-wielding Whiplash, the ice-powered Blizzard, the bug-themed Beetle and the saboteur Spymaster. Hammer would later die in a desperate last bid to destroy Tony before he succumbed to cancer. His legacy was upheld by his daughter, Justine Hammer and his granddaughter Sacha Hammer, who was fathered by one of Iron Man’s other premiere foes; The Mandarin.
The Mandarin was a Chinese nobleman turned criminal mastermind. Unlike Hammer, the Mandarin was empowered by ten ‘magical’ rings that he retrieved from a crashed alien vessel, each of which giving him a different power. With these in hand, he has fought Iron Man on numerous occasion in his quest towards world domination.
Alongside criminals such as Mandarin and Justin Hammer, notorious foes counted as Iron Man rogues are the likes of Iron Monger, another of Stark’s business rivals turned armored criminal; the mind-manipulating Controller; as well as European supervillains such as the Avengers foe and criminal mastermind Count Nefaria, whose daughter, Madame Masque, Iron Man has both fought and dated; the Fantastic Four archenemy and dictator Doctor Doom and armored Soviet heroes and mercenaries Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man.
In more recent years, the children of these various criminals, particularly the children (and grandchildren) of Iron Monger and Mandarin, have also become prominent Iron Man villains in their own right.
Tony Stark’s ‘costumed career’ changed dramatically when he learnt about the ‘Extremis’ virus. After fighting someone who had been injected with Extremis, and being beaten half to death, Stark realised it was time for Iron Man to undergo the ultimate upgrade. Although Iron Man had long been a respected hero amongst the Marvel pantheon, after injecting himself with Extremis, Tony took things to the next level. His armour literally became an extension of him, with some of it’s components being stored in his body, allowing him increased strength, speed, reflexes, healing and interfacing abilities.
Using this newfound power, Tony tried to become a more responsible hero, and soon found himself at odds with his long-time friend and ally, Captain America, over how the superhuman population should be policed in light of the ‘Superhero Registration Act’. Iron Man won this ‘Civil War’, and moved on to become the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., but with crippled with guilt after Captain America was assassinated on the day of his trial (he would later return though – this is comic-books after all – alleviating Iron Man of that guilt at least a little bit). However, the stress of his new job was pushed to the extreme, and after fending off an invasion by the shape-shifting Skrulls, Iron Man was forced to go on the run as Spider-Man foe Norman Osborn became the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which he remade as H.A.M.M.E.R.).
Of course, having a supervillain in charge of national security was never going to last; and together with a return Captain America, Iron Man helped restore the old status quo. But their differences were too deeply ingrained at this point, and while Iron Man continued to act in the capacity of Superhero, he often found himself clashing with his allies; first, when he had his personality inverted to that of a super-villain after an adventure with the X-Men, becoming the ‘Superior’ Iron Man; second, when he and other esteemed heroes such as Mister Fantastic and Doctor Strange tried to solve the problem of multiversal collapse by destroying alternate realities, in turn igniting the anger of Captain America once more; and third, when he clashed with Captain Marvel over the best means to utilise the power of a young man who could see the future.
This last conflict became known as the second ‘Civil War’, and during a fight with Captain Marvel, Tony fell into a coma. In his absence, Doctor Doom turned to the side of the heroes and became the new ‘Infamous’ Iron Man, while a young genius named Riri Williams tried to uphold Tony’s heroic ideals as Ironheart.
While the two have both seen success as heroes in their own way, Tony Stark has started to come to; as he once again prepares to return to the role of Iron Man and act as a test pilot for the future.
CURRENTLY APPEARS IN: The Avengers, Invincible Iron Man