Iron Man is a fictional superhero character from Marvel Comics who first appeared in 1963 in Tales of Suspense. He was a creative product by the famous writer-editor Stan Lee, scriptwriter Larry Lieber, and artists Jack Kirby and Don Heck. Stan Lee wanted to write the stories himself initially, but finally decided to give the task to Larry Lieber. Jack Kirby and Don Heck looked after the artwork, with Kirby designing the costume.
Heck did well with the appearance of the characters, including Tony Stark and his secretary Pepper Potts. Kirby was responsible for the cover, and is why he took over the task of designing Iron Man’s costume since the covers are always designed first. The original costume was a bulky gray armored suit which was used in his first appearance in Tales of Suspense. In the second story, the costume was replaced with a golden version. Still later, Iron Man donned a sleek, red-and-golden armor outfit.
Iron Man is known to the public as Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark, the billionaire playboy, industrialist, and engineer. While being held by his kidnappers, Stark suffered a severe heart injury. He was forced by his abductors to build a weapon of mass destruction, but he instead created a “powered suit of armor” that he used to protect himself and to escape from his captors. Later, he used the same suit to protect the world, calling himself the Iron Man.
Anthony Stark was born in Long Island, the son of Howard and Maria Stark. Howard is a wealthy industrialist, the head of Stark Industries. The couple died in a car accident, leaving Tony to inherit his fatherâs company. Tony had showed his genius since boyhood and studied electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at age 15.
Stark used the resources of his own Stark Industries to create military weapons, and also used his ingenuity to integrate special devices into his suit enabling him to fight crime using advanced technology. He could build specialized weapons intended for use for stealth and also space travel.
The initial themes of the Iron Man stories revolved around the Cold War. This was Stan Lee’s own way of bringing to the forefront how American technology and business play a role in combating communism. This went on for some time but later shifted to more contemporary issues such as terrorism and corporate crime.
Iron Man has appeared in a variety of different media – in comic books, animated TV shows, films, etc., where most publications presented him as a regular member of the Avengers. His stories ran from 1964 to 1968, although though the book titles were changed from time to time. For example, when he appeared in Tales of Suspense, the publication became known as Captain America when the latter character was at his peak of popularity.
Nevertheless, Iron Man stories continued to appear in the magazine until his solo debut The Invincible Iron Man # 1 in 1968. At one time, Lee commented that comparatively speaking, Iron Man has more female than male fans. Surprisingly, fan mail sent to the Captain America publication by females was usually addressed to Iron Man.
Stan Lee always appeared to succeed in introducing a different superhero character during the Cold War era. Lee told about his idea of presenting a character that would stir âantagonismâ among the readers of Marvel. He considered that during this period the younger readers disliked war and the military, largely because of the Cold War. Then here comes Iron Man, a weapons manufacturer, rich, an industrialist, and weapons supplier – one that readers should not like. Yet Lee had this way of shoving the character down the readersâ throats and forcing them to like him – and thatâs exactly what happened.
Iron Man became the new popular character – wealthy and glamorous on the outside, but plagued and tormented on the inside. Gerry Conway aptly describes Iron Man’s character as ‘an invulnerable figure’, one that can’t be touched, but heavily wounded inside. Stark has by this time developed a serious dependency on alcohol that started when he discovered that S.H.I.E.L.D., a national security agency, showed too much interest in his company. He learned that the agency wanted him to continuously develop weapons for them.
The focus of Iron Man stories changed from different issues and series. At first he was characterized as an anti-communist hero. This theme served as the reflection of the Vietnam War back to back with Americaâs role. Lee eventually realized that in order to retain interest he would have to change themes, which led him to redirect his attention to technological advancement and national defense.
This was when the Iron Man displayed his technological prowess which was initially his basic identity. The more recent themes displayed Starkâs wounded character and other personal difficulties. He once saved a US Marine pilot Jim Rhodes who was to become his personal pilot and confidant, and later the superhero War Machine. During Stark’s alcoholic period, Jim Rhodes became Iron Man for quite a lengthy period, and Stark had to eventually overcome his problem to regain his rightful identity.
Tony Stark possesses expertise in various fields, such as physics, mathematics, computers and chemistry. His skills in engineering could surpass even those of Reed Richards, Hank Pym and Bruce Banner. He has earned the reputation as being one of the smartest characters that Marvel ever had. He earned an advance degree in physics and engineering from MIT at the age of 21. He also enhanced further his knowledge in other fields like artificial intelligence and quantum mechanics.
Tony also showed his ingenuity in his corporate life, and he is well-respected in the business world. He is able to get people’s attention every time he talks about economic topics. The fact that he was able to build a fortune out of nothing is sufficient reason for him to be regarded as an authority on financial matters. He has the personality that both commands and earns loyalty. His business ethic is indisputable, and he has a deep concern for the environment, and in so doing displays his ability to bend with the times from era to era: the true requirement for an enduring comic character.
Some of the recent appearances of Iron Man were portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. in the film Iron Man in 2008 which did well in the box office. The next one, still by Downey, was the sequel Iron Man 2 in 2010. Iron Man also appeared in a cameo role in The Incredible Hulk in 2008. Downey continues to be selected to portray the character in the upcoming Iron Man appearance in The Avengers in 2012 and possibly in Iron Man 3 in 2013.