A superhero named Iron Man can be found in American comic books produced by Marvel Comics. The character was conceptualized by screenwriter Larry Lieber, drawn by designers Don Heck and Jack Kirby, and co-created by writer and editor Stan Lee.
The character made his debut in Tales of Suspense #39 (cover dated March 1963), and in Iron Man #1 he was given his own series (May 1968). The superhero team known as the Avengers was created in 1963 by the persona along with Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, and the Hulk.
Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark is a wealthy American businessman, playboy, philanthropist, inventor, and brilliant scientist. During a kidnapping, Tony sustains a serious chest injury. He builds a robotic suit of armor to protect himself and escape imprisonment when his captors try to make him manufacture a weapon of mass destruction.
Later, Stark improves his suit by including guns and other tech creations by his business, Stark Industries. He defends the world as Iron Man by using the suit and its subsequent iterations. Stark initially goes undercover as Iron Man, but he finally comes out in front of the public.
Iron Man was initially created by Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, particularly the contribution of American industry and technology to the struggle against communism. Later re-imaginings of Iron Man have focused on modern issues.
Several comic book series have featured Iron Man as the cover star. He has been an original member of the Avengers for the most of the publishing history of the character.
Several animated television programs and movies have used Iron Man as their inspiration. Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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The creation of Iron Man in Marvel Comics began with editor and plotter Stan Lee, scriptwriter Larry Lieber, story artist Don Heck, and cover artist and character designer Jack Kirby in Tales of Suspense #39 (cover dated March 1963). Lee had been experimenting with the concept of a businessman superhero in 1963. He sought to create the “quintessential capitalist,” a somebody who would be at odds with both Marvel’s audience and the era.
He set out to create a rich, swanky ladies’ guy with a secret that would also afflict and torture the new character. Gerry Conway, a writer, remarked “Here you have this character, who on the outside is invulnerable, I mean, just can’t be touched, but inside is a wounded figure. Stan made it very much an in-your-face wound, you know, his heart was broken, you know, literally broken. But there’s a metaphor going on there. And that’s, I think, what made that character interesting.”
According to Lee, who based this playboy’s appearance and behavior on Howard Hughes, “Howard Hughes was 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.” “Without being crazy, he was Howard Hughes,” Lee said.
Although Lee had planned to write the story himself, a slight deadline emergency eventually compelled him to give Lieber the first issue, who developed the plot. Both Heck and Kirby contributed to the artwork. “He designed the costume,” Heck said of Kirby, “because he was doing the cover. The covers were always done first. But I created the look of the characters, like Tony Stark and his secretary Pepper Potts.”
In response to the question of whether he had “a specific model for Tony Stark and the other characters,” Heck stated in a 1990 interview, “No, I would be thinking more along the lines of some characters I like, which would be the same kind of characters that Alex Toth liked, which was an Errol Flynn type.”
In Tales of Suspense, an anthology of science fiction and supernatural tales, Iron Man initially appears in 13- to 18-page stories. In the second story (issue #40, April 1963), the character’s golden attire took the place of his heavy gray armored gear. Although Kirby created the cover illustration, Steve Ditko reworked the armor in issue #48 (December 1963), giving it a sleeker red and gold color scheme. Heck remembered this in 1985 “The second costume, the red and yellow one, was designed by Steve Ditko. I found it easier than drawing that bulky old thing. The earlier design, the robot-looking one, was more Kirbyish.”
Iron Man was an anti-communist hero who defeated many Vietnamese agents in his film debut. Lee eventually regretted his initial attention. Technology advancement and national security were recurring topics in Iron Man’s comic book series, but later issues showed Stark’s struggles with alcoholism (as in the “Demon in a Bottle” tale) and other personal struggles, which made him seem more vulnerable and nuanced.
The anthology science-fiction back-up stories in Tales of Suspense were replaced by a feature starring the superhero Captain America from issue #59 (November 1964) until issue #99 (March 1968), which was the final issue. The Mandarin, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye were just a few of the antagonists that Lee and Heck established for the character in issues #50 (February 1964), #52 (April 1964), and #54 (July 1964).
The Tales of Suspense anthology science-fiction backup stories were replaced by a feature starring the superhero Captain America from issue #59 (November 1964) to issue #99 (March 1968), the series’ last issue. In issues #50 (February 1964), #52 (April 1964), and #54 (May 1964), Lee and Heck introduced the Mandarin, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye as the character’s main foes.
Lee claimed: “of all the comic books we published at Marvel, we got more fan mail for Iron Man from women, from females, than any other title … We didn’t get much fan mail from girls, but whenever we did, the letter was usually addressed to Iron Man.”
In The Avengers #1 (September 1963), Lee and Kirby introduced Iron Man as a founding member of the superhero group. Since then, the character has appeared in each of the series’ later books.
The authors have changed the conflict and setting where Stark is hurt. The Vietnam War was mentioned in the original 1963 novella. It was updated to reflect the first Gulf War in the 1990s, and it was revised once more to reflect the Afghanistan War in the 2000s.
Nearly every version of the Iron Man origin shows Tony Stark working with the Asian Nobel Prize–winning scientist Ho Yinsen, during which time they construct the original armor. The direct-to-DVD animated feature film The Invincible Iron Man stands out as an anomaly because it features a different set of Iron Man armor to help Tony Stark escape his captors.
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In the early years of Marvel Comics, the original Iron Man title and other Stan Lee works both examined Cold War themes. Iron Man looked at the role of business in the conflict, in contrast to The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, which alternately concentrated on American domestic and governmental reactions to the Communist menace. Howard Hughes, the real-life inspiration for Tony Stark, was a key defense contractor who created new weapon technology. Hughes served as a symbol of both American individuality and the responsibilities of fame.
In The Journal of Popular Culture, historian Robert Genter claims that Tony Stark in particular paints an idealized picture of the American inventor. In contrast to earlier decades, the 1960s saw new technologies—including weapons—being developed primarily by the research departments of corporations, as opposed to notable individuals (such as Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Wright brothers) who were responsible for significant technological advancements. There was therefore little opportunity for the creator who desired recognition for, as well as creative and financial control over, their own inventions.
Early Iron Man stories frequently dealt with themes of entrepreneurial liberty, government oversight of research, and ultimate devotion – issues that also faced American scientists and engineers of the time. According to Genter, Tony Stark is an innovator who finds motivation in his nature as an independent, creative person. His chest wound serves as a metaphor for the blow he takes when he is obliged to design things that benefit others rather than just himself.
According to Genter, Stark’s metamorphosis into Iron Man symbolizes his attempt to restore his independence and, by extension, his manhood. Another component of this attempt, according to Genter, is the character’s pursuit of women in the bedroom or during combat. The trend can be seen in various works of popular fiction from the 1960s by authors like “Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond), Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), and Norman Mailer, who made unregulated sexuality a form of authenticity.”
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The Tales of Suspense series was renamed Captain America after issue #99 (March 1968). Before the “Golden Avenger” made his solo debut with Iron Man #1 (May 1968), an Iron Man narrative could be found in the one-shot comic Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (April 1968). The trademarked cover logo of the majority of issues is The Invincible Iron Man, but the series’ indicia provide the copyright title Iron Man.
With issue #332 (September 1996), this first series came to an end. The second book in the series was written by Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, and Jeph Loeb and mostly illustrated by Whilce Portacio and Ryan Benjamin. There were 13 issues in this book, which were set in a parallel reality (November 1996 – November 1997). Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern co-wrote Volume 3’s first 25 issues, which ran for 89 issues (February 1998 – December 2004).
Later authors included Joe Quesada, Frank Tieri, Mike Grell, and John Jackson Miller. Issue #41 (June 2001), which reflected the beginning of dual numbering beginning with the first issue of volume one in 1968, was also given the supplementary number #386. The last issue was given a dual numbering of #434.
The next installment of the Iron Man series, Iron Man vol. 4, came in early 2005 with the Warren Ellis and Adi Granov-created narrative “Extremis.” Between January 2005 and January 2009, there were 35 issues published, the first with the cover art simply titled Iron Man (issue #13) and the next featuring Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D (issue #15).
The introduction of an ongoing War Machine series was made possible by the cover logo of the final three issues being replaced with “War Machine, Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
The debut issue of The Invincible Iron Man, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, with a cover date of July 2008. Marvel concurrently released volumes four and five for a seven-month period. This Invincible volume’s issue count increased from #33 to #500, with a cover date of March 2011, to accurately match the beginning with volume one’s debut issue in 1968.
As a part of Marvel Now!, a new Iron Man series was launched following the conclusion of The Invincible Iron Man. It debuted with issue #1 in November 2012 and was written by Kieron Gillen with illustrations by Greg Land.
Over the years, a lot of Iron Man annuals, miniseries, and one-shot books have been released.
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