Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).
An American billionaire playboy, industrialist, and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his corporation - Stark Industries - Tony has created many military weapons, some of which, along with other technological devices of his making, have been integrated into his suit, helping him fight crime. Initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and business in the fight against communism. Subsequent re-imaginings of Iron Man have transitioned from Cold War themes to contemporary concerns, such as corporate crime and terrorism.
Throughout most of the character's publication history, Iron Man has been a founding member of the superhero team the Avengers and has been featured in several incarnations of his own various comic book series. Iron Man was ranked 12th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes in 2011.
Iron Man's Marvel Comics premiere in Tales of Suspense #39 was a collaboration among editor and story-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, story-artist Don Heck, and cover-artist and character-designer Jack Kirby. In 1963, Lee had been toying with the idea of a businessman superhero. He wanted to create the "quintessential capitalist", a character that would go against the spirit of the times and Marvel's readership.
He set out to make the new character a wealthy, glamorous ladies' man, but one with a secret that would plague and torment him as well. Writer Gerry Conway said, "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." Lee based this playboy's looks and personality on Howard Hughes, explaining, "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".
While Lee intended to write the story himself, a minor deadline emergency eventually forced him to hand over the premiere issue to Lieber, who fleshed out the story. The art was split between Kirby and Heck. "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". Iron Man first appeared in 13- to 18-page stories in Tales of Suspense, which featured anthology science fiction and supernatural stories. The character's original costume was a bulky gray armored suit, replaced by a golden version in the second story (issue #40, April 1963). It was redesigned as sleeker, red-and-golden armor in issue #48 (Dec. 1963) by that issue's interior artist, Steve Ditko, although Kirby drew it on the cover. As Heck recalled in 1985, "[T]he 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.
After issue #99 (March 1968), the Tales of Suspense series was renamed Captain America. An Iron Man story appeared in the one-shot comic Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (April 1968), before the "Golden Avenger" made his solo debut with The Invincible Iron Man #1 (May 1968). The series' indicia gives its copyright title Iron Man, while the trademarked cover logo of most issues is The Invincible Iron Man. Artist George Tuska began a decade long association with the character with Iron Man #5 (Sept. 1968). Writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin's brief collaboration on the Iron Man series introduced Mentor, Starfox, and Thanos in issue #55 (Feb. 1973).
Iron Man possesses powered armor that gives him superhuman strength and durability, flight, and an array of weapons. The armor is invented and worn by Stark (with occasional short-term exceptions). Other people who have assumed the Iron Man identity include Stark's long-time partner and best friend James Rhodes, close associates Harold "Happy" Hogan; Eddie March; and (briefly) Michael O'Brien.
The weapons systems of the suit have changed over the years, but Iron Man's standard offensive weapons have always been the repulsor rays that are fired from the palms of his gauntlets. Other weapons built into various incarnations of the armor include: the uni-beam projector in its chest; pulse bolts (that pick up kinetic energy along the way; so the farther they travel, the harder they hit); an electromagnetic pulse generator; and a defensive energy shield that can be extended up to 360 degrees. Other capabilities include: generating ultra-freon (i.e., a freeze-beam); creating and manipulating magnetic fields; emitting sonic blasts; and projecting 3-dimensional holograms (to create decoys).
In addition to the general-purpose model he wears, Stark has developed several specialized suits for space travel, deep-sea diving, stealth, and other special purposes. Stark has modified suits, like the Hulkbuster heavy armor. The Hulkbuster armor is composed of add-ons to his so-called modular armor, designed to enhance its strength and durability enough to engage the Incredible Hulk in a fight. A later model, designed for use against Thor, is modeled on the Destroyer and uses a mystical power source. Stark develops an electronics pack during the Armor Wars that, when attached to armors that use Stark technologies, will burn out those components, rendering the suit useless. This pack is ineffective on later models. While it is typically associated with James Rhodes, the War Machine armor began as one of Stark's specialty armors.
Tony Stark is an inventive genius whose expertise in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science rivals that of Reed Richards, Hank Pym, and Bruce Banner, and his expertise in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering surpasses even theirs. He is regarded as one of the most intelligent characters in the Marvel Universe. He graduated with advanced degrees in physics and engineering at the age of 17 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and further developed his knowledge ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum mechanics as time progressed. At a time when Stark was unable to use his armor for a period, he received some combat training from Captain America and has become physically formidable on his own when the situation demands it. In addition, Stark possesses great business and political acumen. On multiple occasions he reacquired control of his companies after losing them amid corporate takeovers.