When Iron Man made his first comic book appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 way back in 1963, at the time, no one knew that the character would remain popular nearly 50 years later. After all, Iron Man was a different kind of superhero, especially when considering the character beneath the suit, Tony Stark. Stark was not like other superheroes: he was deeply flawed and not exactly the most likable person on the planet. In spite of all this, his legacy prevails.
In 2008, Iron Man made his live-action movie debut. Thanks to the perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr. and a great script, the film launched what is now the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without the success of that first Iron Man movie, fans would not have the Avengers lighting up movie screens a decade later. The character was close to how he appeared in comic books throughout his three films in the MCU, although there were some details that Disney/Marvel felt the necessity to leave out for various reasons.
With a comic book history that spans decades, Iron Man has a lot of things about him that people just don’t know. There are also a lot of other things that people just get completely wrong about the character. Iron Man is so much more than what fans have just seen on the silver screen. He is a culmination of his cinematic outings plus his comic book history, and so it’s time to correct those inaccuracies.
Here are 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Iron Man.
20 Iron Man can fight without his suit
It’s no secret that Iron Man can fight really well while he’s in the suit. But think about it: how did he learn how to fight in the first place? Obviously, he would need some knowledge of hand-to-hand combat to take on an enemy in order to fight hand-to-hand in the suit.
It turns out that Iron Man spent time training on fighting, at least in the comic books: the suit isn’t doing it all for him.
Outside of the suit, he learned how to fight with trainers like Captain America.
That’s right: the man Iron Man fought in Captain America: Civil War is actually the man who taught him how to throw a punch in the first place.
19 It actually a long time to make the first Iron Man movie
It took Iron Man a long time to come to the silver screen. The film got tossed around a lot in the 1990s at various studios, including Fox and New Line. Then it spent time bouncing around from writer to writer and director to director, forever in development limbo.
New Line eventually decided that the film was unrealistic.
The studio didn’t think that a man who flew around in a metal suit would ever sell movie tickets.
New Line’s option for the character finally expired in 2005.
That’s when Marvel Studios stepped in. Marvel gave Iron Man a shot and finally brought him to the screen in 2008. That first movie launched an entire blockbuster film franchise.
18 Marvel didn’t have confidence in Iron Man
Oddly enough, though, Marvel did not think that Iron Man would succeed at the box office, especially as a launching point for an entire shared universe. The general idea was really just to promote Marvel’s characters and get toy merchandise on retail shelves.
Marvel executives just wanted a film that would break even. Instead, they got a movie that landed over $585 million worldwide. The movie ended up making so much money that Marvel’s frugal CEO was thrilled enough to gift Robert Downey Jr. a brand new Bentley and director Jon Favrea a brand new Mercedes.
Considering how huge the MCU is now, they obviously earned those gifts.
17 Tony was not born a Stark
Although the Iron Man movies have shown flashbacks of Tony’s parents, as well as a younger Tony with his family, there is something that they never mention. The version of the character in the comics was not actually born as a Stark. He was adopted.
All that technical genius isn’t something that Tony inherited in his DNA.
However, there is another natural-born Stark, Arno. When introduced, Arno was confined to an iron lung and only able to communicate using an assistive device. He’s as smart as Tony, but his illness has prevented him from living up to his potential. This is something the movies never touched upon.
16 He started two superhero civil wars
Fans of the MCU already know about Tony’s involvement in the first superhero war. Tony insisted upon the Sokovia Accords, which would create a registry of all super-powered individuals in the world. Captain America disagreed and in the end, the Avengers found themselves split. They went to all-out war, with Tony and Captain America eventually facing off.
Tony ended up starting another Civil Wa in the comic books. In that story, an Inhuman arrives who has the ability to predict the future. Captain Marvel wants to use these predictions to stop calamities before they happen and take on villains before they commit crimes. Tony does not agree and ends up kidnapping the Inhuman. This starts a second civil war between superheroes.
15 He’s not a good guy
Tony Stark is not really a hero, especially when compared to heroes such as Captain America. In fact, Tony Stark is a bit of a jerk, even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For example, in The Avengers, Coulson perishes at the hand of Loki. Tony makes a joke about it and calls Coulson an “idiot” shortly thereafter.
There are other instances of him being completely selfish. In Captain America: Civil War, he refuses to listen to Captain America’s thoughts on the Sokovia Accords. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, he convinces Bruce Banner to use an A.I. that he knew was dangerous to create a global defense program. That backfires when Ultron gets created from that experiment, and then Ultron nearly destroys the world.
14 He destroyed the superhero registry in the end
In both the comic books and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark is very much in favor of creating a registry to track the world’s superheroes. This resulted in the Sokovia Accords, which made it international law that every superhero must register with their respective governments so that the government could keep track of them in a database. Tony even went to war with his fellow Avengers in support of this concept.
In the comics, Tony gets discredited and loses his position with S.H.I.E.L.D. He gets replaced by Norman Osborn.
To keep Norman Osborn from getting his hands on the registry, Tony creates a virus to destroy those records.
It seems he learned that the registry was a bad idea all along.
13 The Avengers isn’t the only group Stark belongs to
Because of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most fans know that Iron Man is a member of The Avengers, a team of superheroes meant to protect the world.
However, Tony also belongs to yet another superhero team, the Illuminati – which also includes Black Bolt, Namor, the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, Doctor Strange and The X-Men’s Professor Xavier.
In fact, he’s a founding member and formed the Illuminati after the Kree-Skrull war.
The group is informal and only meets up to discuss alien threats. Although Tony invited Black Panther to the group, he refused to take part, fearing that the actions of the Illuminati would lead to more violence.
12 Iron Man is now a girl
Although it is rare when superheroes pass from natural causes or even retire, it actually does happen sometimes. That means that their titles get handed down to someone younger, someone with similar powers or ideological principles.
For Iron Man, that title got handed down to a very capable 15-year-old girl named Riri Williams. Riri proved she was as smart as Tony when she built an Iron Man suit of her own. Tony embraced her and her intellect.
After the events of Civil War II, Tony stepped down as Iron Man and allowed Riri to take up the mantle as Ironheart. Although this change outraged some Marvel fans, others embraced the new superhero with open arms.
11 Tony Stark is not a good businessman
Although Tony Stark is a technological genius worth billions of dollars, his acumen as a businessman isn’t as good as everyone thinks it is.
Believe it or not, Stark Industries has filed for bankruptcy a number of times because its owner is really bad with money.
The company has even undergone several hostile takeovers. Although he keeps going on and on about how rich he is, Tony really has no actual business skills. This is even the case in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: while Tony is off being an Avenger, the person really running the company is his significant other, Pepper Potts. In fact, without Pepper, Stark Industries would probably not stay afloat.
10 Iron Man’s science makes no sense
Although Marvel did a good job of creating a suit for Iron Man that seems at least halfway believable, the truth is that it’s probably not scientifically possible. Most of the suit’s features defy science, or at least science as we currently know it.
Take the energy weapons on the suit, for example. Using such a weapon would require at least 2 gigawatts of power, which is far greater than even what a nuclear power plant can produce. But that’s not all. Basic physics also suggest that Iron Man’s jet boots just would not really work in reality. In fact, the only semi-realistic feature of Iron Man’s suit is the cybernetic helmet he wears, but it’s still based on a futuristic technology that the world just doesn’t have yet.
9 Tony Stark’s net worth is actually more than Batman’s
When it comes to comic book billionaires, most readers would bet that Batman is probably worth way more money than Tony Stark. Maybe that’s just because of how Bruce Wayne gets written, but this is a misconception. In fact, Tony actually has a net worth more than Bruce.
While Bruce is worth around $9.2 billion, Stark is worth $12.4 billion.
There is another interesting fact, though: Wayne Enterprises is still worth more than Stark Industries. Even more interesting, though, is that both superheroes fall well under the net worth of T’Challa, aka Black Panther, who is worth $90.7 trillion. That’s what happens when you have the world’s only source of vibranium.
8 He has powers without his suit
Tony Stark invented the Iron Man suit so that he could become a superhero. But what is he without his suit? It turns out that Tony actually has powers even when he’s not encased in armor.
Not only can he fight, thanks to his training by Captain America, but his genius use of technology gives him powers beyond that. In one story, Tony uploads his brain, which can then hack into an enemy’s systems. In another story, Tony loses his life, but the Avengers go back in time to get a younger version of him that eventually helps them fix things and melds with his original self.
In another timeline, one version of him pulls out another version’s disembodied head and uses it to disable the machinery of the enemy.
7 Iron Man 3 is not an action movie
Although Iron Man 3 had its share of action and adventure, at its heart, it’s actually a love story. That love story is a complicated one, because it’s really a love triangle between Tony, Pepper and the suits. In an interview with Collider, Kevin Feige said:
“Yes, the stakes are very, very high – There are big stakes to this movie. But the real stakes are, is Tony going to be able to set aside the obsession to spend all day, every day in that workshop, tinkering with the suits in order to focus on, as he says in the trailer, the one thing that matters most – Pepper. And that actually is what the entire movie’s about.”
It’s a love story, indeed.
6 Tony has a serious addiction
Marvel, a company owned by Disney, often sanitizes material so that it appeals to a broader audience that includes children. When Iron Man finally made it to the big screen, the company made an executive decision that Tony Stark would appear a little different in the films.
In the comics, Tony has a drinking addiction and battles with that on a daily basis.
In fact, Marvel comics had an entire story arc around Tony’s addiction called “Demon in a Bottle”. In that issue, Tony battles with his addiction, although he does eventually overcome it. However, he has experienced occasional relapses.
None of this ever made it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though. It’s a shame because it would have added an element of realism to the movies.
5 Toy companies were hesitant to make Iron Man merchandise
One of the main reasons that Marvel wanted to make an Iron Man movie is that it would give the company an opportunity to sell merchandise aimed at kids. Marvel did not really expect the movie to do well, so toy sales were something it deemed important.
There was just one big problem: toy manufacturers just weren’t interested in the film. Up to that point, Marvel hadn’t had a lot of box office success, so toy companies didn’t think that people would buy any related toys.
One Marvel executive said “We couldn’t give Iron Man away, nobody wanted it. So there was not very much merchandise on the shelves for that first movie.”
4 Stan Lee did not write Iron Man’s first appearance
One common misconception about Iron Man is about Stan Lee’s involvement with the character in the comic books. Although Lee did create the character, he had less to do with the character’s first appearance in comic books than most think.
Iron Man first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39 in 1963, with Lee intending to write his first story.
Lee got stuck with an emergency deadline and could not work on that issue.
Instead, Larry Lieber wrote the story with artwork by Jack Kirby and Don Heck. Although the character gets credited to Lee, it took four men to bring him life on the comic book page.
3 Tony’s powerful position
In the movies, Tony is often depicted as someone willing to work with officials, especially when it came to the Sokovia Accords, which established a worldwide registry of super-powered individuals. But he never served in an official capacity in the MCU. However, in the comics, Tony spent time in an official defense position, which makes sense given that he started out as someone who created weapons for the military.
There is a small mention in Iron Man 2 where Tony tells Stern that he would be happy to take on the position, but nothing ever came of that conversation. Fans can just consider that as just another Easter egg referencing the comics.
2 Tony is based on Howard Hughes (and later Elon Musk)
In the comic books, Lee based a lot of Tony Stark’s life on the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. But once Iron Man made his way to the silver screen, most were too young to really remember much about Hughes and his lifestyle.
Robert Downey Jr. found inspiration in technological genius Elon Musk instead. He even visited a SpaceX facility, which pretty much blew his mind. He spent time with Musk, getting to know him a little better and delving into his psyche.
Once the first Iron Man released, director Jon Favreau began expanding upon the influence that Musk had on the character in the movie. This actually also helped bring Musk to the public eye, where he has stayed ever since.
1 Stan Lee created Iron Man to be unlikable
When Stan Lee first created Iron Man, as well as the alter ego of Tony Stark, he wanted to give comic book readers a superhero that they would not really like.
Lee created the character during the Cold War, when no one really liked the military. He decided to create a superhero that represented the military, someone who manufactured weapons and got rich off of it.
The idea was to make it so that fans would initially hate Iron Man, but then go on to like him after “shoving him down their throats.”
Obviously, Lee’s plan worked because Iron Man went on to become one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes and remains so, even today.
What else do people get wrong about Iron Man? Let us know in the comments!