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Genius inventor Tony Stark continued his father Howard Stark’s weaponry business after his parents’ untimely deaths and flew it to even greater heights of innovation. While in Afghanistan to demonstrate a new missile for the U.S. military, Stark’s convoy came under fire by a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings and he was severely wounded. Taken prisoner by the group, Stark awoke in their headquarters to learn that shrapnel near his heart had nearly cost him his life, but swift action by scientist and fellow prisoner Ho Yinsen—who had inserted a powerful electromagnet in Stark’s chest—would prolong it temporarily.

Stalling his captors after they demanded he build them a new weapon, Stark replaced the magnet with the RT, a miniature version of a device originally designed by his father, the Arc Reactor. Furthermore, he and Yinsen created a crude suit of armor which could provide them the means with which to escape. The suit worked as planned, though Yinsen sacrificed himself in order to allow Tony enough time to power it up to fight their terrorist captors.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

With help from his friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes, the inventor returned home and promptly announced Stark Industries departure from the weapons business. His personal assistant Pepper Potts backed the sudden course reversal, but his father’s old friend and business partner, Obadiah Stane, strongly disagreed with what he saw as a rash decision.

Stark worked overtime in his lab to streamline the armor, and when he’d finished, a new persona emerged: Iron Man. After he discovered Stane had illegally sold Stark weapons to the Ten Rings, he donned the armor to return to Afghanistan and stop the group from using them. Later, he also learned that Stane had paid the Ten Rings to kill him and had been working behind Stark’s back to steal the entire company. The older man then forcibly took the RT from Tony’s chest and left his old friend’s son to die. But, Potts helped Stark insert his original, cobbled-together RT into his chest, and Iron Man flew again.

Stane presented himself in a gigantic suit of armor of his own, and a battle ensued until Stark and Potts overloaded Stane’s power source and Stane died in the process. Feeling more confident in himself than ever before, Stark called a press conference soon after the fight and impulsively announced to the world that he was indeed Iron Man.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Heart of Steel

At the very core of the Iron Man technology lies the Arc Reactor. Designed by Howard Stark, but augmented and strengthened by Tony Stark, the Reactor provides a clean, manageable energy source with incredible output, one that can be adapted to most anything. At first a large piece of equipment, the younger Stark miniaturized the technology into the “RT,” which was the size of a human heart, and put it to great use to power his suits of armor.

Iron Man (Tony Stark) testing his armor

Iron Man’s armor provided a complete working environment for its user, including enhanced strength, closed air systems, data input, communications, flight, defense systems, and offensive weaponry such as missiles, lasers, and so-called “repulsor” technology. Stark never stops in his advancement of his armor designs, and at one time created multiple versions, each one of them with a specialized use. The armor has also become lighter and more flexible since the first incarnation, allowing Stark to “suit up” in mere seconds and be immediately ready for action.

Stark’s latest suit was destroyed in battle with the tyrant Thanos, but while in use sported maximum thrust for flight, new offensive weapons, and nanotechnology that allowed near instantaneous application.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Stark Raving Enemies

Many of Tony Stark’s enemies have stepped out from the shadows to reveal themselves as people connected to him in some personal way, making for even tougher challenges for Iron Man.

Obadiah Stane fools Stark and nearly everyone around him with his vocal desire to see Stark Industries, his old friend’s business, succeed and grow. That desire leads to selfish pursuits and the belief that Howard Stark’s son would serve Stane’s purposes better dead than alive. His own intellect and scientific prowess provide him with the means to build the gigantic “Iron Monger” suit, but his hubris leads to his defeat and demise.

Justin Hammer Iron Man 2

Justin Hammer first appears on the scene as a business rival of Stark’s, and swiftly proves himself unreliable, as well as harboring criminal tendencies, like Aldrich Killian after him. They stand as two men who could have helped the world to become a better place, but instead fed their own passions and brought an ending to their respective stories through their own missteps. Ivan Vanko lusts for revenge on the Starks for what he sees as injustices heaped upon his own father, making him something of a darker version of Tony Stark.

In Loki, Thor’s adoptive brother, Stark encounters a foe who seems to wield magic instead of science, something that is at odds with the inventor’s entire make-up. To counteract this internal dilemma, Stark confronts Loki with his trademark wit and bravado.

Ultron represents Stark’s hubris in physical form—a robot created by him. Ultron almost immediately advances itself past its creator to become Stark’s nightmare: technology he can’t control. Though he and the Avengers manage to defeat Ultron, the scars from its birth still show on Stark, perhaps forever.

More recently, Thanos the tyrant from Titan dominates Stark’s list of enemies and proves to be more than a match for the man’s genius and armored strength.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Tony’s Heart

Some of Tony Stark’s closest friends, allies, and associates are people he works with.

Pepper Potts began as Stark’s personal assistant. She quickly proves her value to him by essentially making sure he survives each day as the owner of Stark Industries, therefore earning his trust to step into the role of CEO. On a personal level, the two develop deep feelings for each other that grows into a romance for the ages. Tony Stark cannot see his life as anything without Pepper Potts, and he hopes to prove it every single day they’re together, through thick and thin.

Tony Stark and Pepper Potts

Happy Hogan is also an employee that earned his boss’ trust, first as his chauffeur and then as Stark’s head of security. Hogan can often exhibit an overzealous nature when it comes to what he sees as taking care of Stark, but he would take a bullet for the man and has. The same is true of James Rhodes, who wears a version of the Iron Man suit as War Machine/Iron Patriot and has at times been the liaison between Stark Industries and the U.S. military. He and Stark’s friendship dates back to their attendance at M.I.T., and it has grown into a partnership beyond a common background to mutual admiration, even when each sees the other at their worst.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

In the Super Hero community, perhaps the closest friend Tony Stark has is Steve Rogers, Captain America. Tony and Steve have had notable ups and down—And even come to blows—and often have differing opinions on how best to serve the world community. However, the two men share a strong figure in their histories, Howard Stark, and they both possess notable devotion to tasks at hand.

Tony has also found himself serving as a mentor to Peter Parker, the teenage Super Hero known as Spider-Man. Beyond giving the young man updated tech and suits, Tony finds himself dispensing advice to Peter about how to best forge his path as a hero and feels protective towards him.

The Forge of Adventure

Immediately after Tony Stark’s admission of being Iron Man, he was approached by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury and informed of something called the Avengers Initiative, a program to bring together unique individuals for the common good.

Now a worldwide superstar as Iron Man, Stark attracted the attention of Ivan Vanko, whose father supposedly worked on the Arc Reactor with Howard Stark, but died a broken man in Russia. Vanko sought revenge on the Stark family and utilizing a Reactor of his own construction went to America to attack Tony Stark. Dodging government pressure to hand over the secrets of his armor’s technology and poisoned by the RT’s core element, Iron Man won a battle against Vanko and believed any danger from the man to be over.

Stark named Pepper Potts as the new CEO of Stark Industries so he could devote more time to working on new technology. Potts installed Natalie Rushman as his new personal assistant and began to worry over Stark’s erratic behavior due to the poisoning. Luckily, Stark discovered that his father has created a new element and used it to clean up RT’s deficiencies. Meanwhile, business rival Justin Hammer used Vanko to build suits of armor with which he planned to destroy Stark; but Iron Man and James Rhodes, in his own “War Machine” armor, clashed with Vanko and won the day.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

In the aftermath of the tribulations, Stark made Potts aware of his feelings for her. Nick Fury also told Stark that he’d only be considered as a consultant to the Avengers Initiative, not an actual participant.

Tony Stark talking with Nick Fury

Soon after, ordered by the World Security Council to try and recruit the imprisoned Emil Blonsky for Fury’s fledgling team, S.H.I.E.L.D. purposely sabotaged the attempt. They sent Stark to approach General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross to tell him such a team was being formed, and to ask for Blonsky’s release—correctly guessing Stark’s personality would strongly clash with Ross’.

Stark’s consultant status was upgraded when Loki, the Asgardian god of mischief, gained a powerful artifact called the Tesseract and threatened the Earth with it. Stark joined with World War II Super-Soldier Captain America, Loki’s brother Thor, the rampaging Hulk, and S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives Black Widow and Hawkeye to form the Avengers as a bulwark against Loki’s advance.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

At first, the Avengers worked uneasily as a team due to Stark’s strong personality and Captain America’s desire for more traditional heroics, but when Loki’s dealings with an extraterrestrial race of aliens brought about a full-scale alien invasion of New York, Iron Man fought as valiantly as his fellow Avengers. He even saved the day by transporting a U.S. nuclear missile through the aliens’ gateway to Earth and blowing up their ship. Later, the heroes celebrated their victory quietly by sharing a meal at a small Manhattan eatery.

Tony Stark surrounded by different versions of his armor

Unfortunately, Tony Stark developed post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the invasion of New York, a situation which created stress in his relationship with Pepper Potts. This was followed by a series of terrorist attacks by a mysterious figure known as the Mandarin, as well as a direct assault on Stark’s home and lab. Without the use of his armor, Stark went alone to discover the Mandarin’s secrets and stumbled upon a crooked scientist-businessman named Aldrich Killian and a kind of super-soldier-like experimental process called Extremis.

When Potts was kidnapped by Killian and injected with Extremis herself, Stark called in his small army of auto-pilot armor suits to battle and defeat Killian and his forces and save the love of his life. Afterward, he underwent surgery to remove the shrapnel from near his heart, destroyed all of his armor, and tried to put Iron Man behind him for good.

Avengers duties brought Stark back to don the armor and help wipe out Hydra across the globe. One team mission to Sokovia plunged the inventor into a nightmare vision of destruction courtesy of the Scarlet Witch, which in turn led Stark to enlist Bruce Banner in the creation of Ultron—a fully functional, autonomous robot. Ultron was born desiring exactly what Stark created him to defend against, human annihilation, feeding arguments between Steve Rogers and Stark about Tony’s actions.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

The Scarlet Witch prodded the Hulk to rampage through the city of Johannesburg in South Africa, forcing Stark to use his “Hulkbuster” armor to stop him. Further actions from Ultron brought the team together again for a united front. But, the robots’ devastating assault on a Sokovia brought more changes to Stark’s outlook on the Avengers and Iron Man; when the dust cleared, he retired from active duty on the team.

Not helped by his constant push and pull regarding donning his armor, Tony and Pepper split up. Meanwhile, tensions grew worse between Iron Man and Captain America when the U.S. enacted the Sokovia Accords to register and enlist “enhanced individuals” for the government. Stark backed the accords, perhaps as a balm for his own troubled soul, while Steve Rogers vehemently opposed them. Rogers’ old friend Bucky Barnes, the brainwashed “Winter Soldier,” resurfaced and seemingly killed the visiting Wakandan king, T’Chaka, creating even more strife amongst the Avengers when Stark backed the manhunt for Barnes.

A battle between two teams of Avengers (and their allies) occurred at an airport, with Stark and the officially sanctioned group on one side and Captain America and his rogue agents on the other. During the violent clash, Stark’s good friend James Rhodes was seriously injured, and Iron Man put even more effort into bringing in Rogers.

Iron Man (Tony Stark) fighting Captain America

Discovering T’Chaka’s death was actually caused by the vengeful Sokovian Helmut Zemo, Tony briefly worked with Captain America and Bucky to stop Zemo, only for Zemo to reveal the Winter Soldier’s role in the death of Stark’s parents many years earlier. Driven by rage towards both Barnes and Rogers—the latter of whom had hidden the truth from him—Iron Man bitterly fought both men. But, Captain America gained the upper hand and incapacitated Stark’s armor with his shield. Fleeing the base with Barnes, Rogers left his shield—created by Stark’s father during World War II—behind and freed his compatriots from a government prison. Tony Stark returned to his friend Rhodes’s side and provided him with high tech leg braces in order to help him walk again.

Subsequently, Stark continued to mentor a teenage hero he’d recruited for the airport battle: Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man. When the young man unsuccessfully clashed with a criminal called the Vulture in New York City, Iron Man flew in to stop the Staten Island Ferry from sinking, saving the passengers onboard. Iron Man chastised Spider-Man in the wake of this near-tragedy, taking back the advanced suit he’d given him. Stark wanted to help and protect Peter, and eventually the teenager began to improve and show growth. Spider-Man ultimately turned down both Stark’s invitation to join the Avengers and an even more upgraded suit that had been made for him, though Tony did return the previously designed suit to Peter to acknowledge his accomplishments.

In the meantime, Tony, having reconciled with Pepper, finally proposed to her and they prepared to announce their engagement to the world.

Sometime later, Stark answered a summons from Doctor Strange and Bruce Banner, learning of Thanos’ intention to acquire both of the Infinity Stones known to be on Earth. Iron Man fought valiantly when Thanos’ followers attacked New York and managed to get onboard their ship as it left the planet following the assault. The craft made its way to the tyrant’s home world Titan where Stark, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man made a stand alongside Guardians of the Galaxy members Star-Lord, Drax, and Mantis to stop Thanos once and for all—eventually joined in their fight by Thanos’ adoptive daughter, Nebula.

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

The attempt failed. During the battle Iron Man was badly injured by Thanos and would have lost his life, if not for the intervention of Strange, who gave up the Infinity Stone he had in his possession in order to convince Thanos to spare Stark. The exchange made, Thanos left Titan for Earth, where he was able to gain control of the final Infinity Stone. Having done so, he used the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet to end half of all life in the universe. On Titan, Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man all disintegrated away, leaving the despairing Iron Man and Nebula alone on the planet.

Iron Man (Tony Stark) fighting Thanos on Titan