published by Marvel Comics
. Iron Man first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39
in 1962. The character was created by Stan Lee
Tony Stark was an industrialist who inherited a large fortune from his family which Stark used to create Stark Enterprises. Lead by Stark, the company became a leader in technology production, often selling new and novel items created by its founder. One of the company's other areas was as a weapons manufacturer.
It was in his role as a weapons manufacturer that Stark traveled to Vietnam during the 1960's. While there, Stark stepped upon a land mine planted
by the enemy. The shrapnel from the mine lodged near his heart.
He awoke from the explosion to discover he had been captured by
Wong Chu, the leader of the communist forces in the area.
Wong Chu forced Stark into build a powerful weapon to aid in their
cause. Stark instead built himself a chest plate to keep the
shrapnel from killing him and expanded upon it, creating a
suit of armor with a myriad of abilities. Defeating his captors
with his new armor, Iron Man was born.
For many years, Stark was dependent upon the armor to keep him
alive. The original grey armor was soon replaced with a similiar suit but one painted gold. These early suits later gave way to a gold and red suit that has become the trademark of Iron Man. Stark's dependence on his armor for prolonging his life ended after he had surgery to remove the shrapnel. He has continued to wear the armor as Iron Man, pretending to be an employee of his company who is employed as Stark's bodyguard
Iron Man has had many enemies over the years including the Mandarin, the Melter,
the Titanium Man, and many others. But as difficult as fighting
these villains have been, Stark's greatest battle was with alcoholism.
For a time, he lost his entire business and fortune. During that
time, the mantle of Iron Man was taken by Stark's pilot and friend
Jim Rhodes. Stark eventually recovered and resumed his duties
as Iron Man.
Stark spent the latter part of the 80's searching out other armor wearing individuals, both heroes and villains, after discovering key components used in his armor had been stolen through corporate espionage. Engaging in an Armor War, Stark engendered the anger of the U.S. government and his fellow Avengers, eventually having to resign as a member of the team. Stark eventually had to fake his own death at the hands of armored villain built by one of his competitors and return in a new armor, claiming that the new Iron Man was a different man than the one who had gone on this rampage.
Stark's life continued to take a series of bizarre twists. He was paralyzed below the waist after being shot by an obsessive woman he had dated. He was confined to a floating "wheel chair" for a time and only mobile as Iron Man through the use of brain scanning technology that allowed him to operate the legs of his suit through thought. He eventually overcame this through the surgical implantation of a chip in his spine, but this too proved to be difficult when the chip was used by competitors to hijack his nervous system and cause him to lose control of his body. He was able to control his suit through thought but eventually he had to place himself in suspended animation until a cure could be found. During this time, Jim Rhodes again took over as Iron Man, though in a more aggressive suit of Stark's design, called the War Machine.
In the years that followed, Stark was manipulated by the time traveling Kang to betray the Avengers, gave his life to stop him and was replaced by a teenage Stark from an alternate time line. He and other Marvel heroes sacrificed themselves to stop the threat of Onslaught and were shunted to an alternate universe for a bit and when they were returned, Stark was once again an adult.
In the past few years, Stark has been a key player in the Civil War event, heading up government backed heroes who sought to have all super-humans register with the U.S. government. He has been revealed to be part of the Illuminati, a group of powerful heroes who have secretly banded together to address threats to the world in a proactive manner, rather than reactively as is the usual mode of operation for super-heroes.
The Iron Man armor has gone through many changes over the years. The standard suit has many features. These include boot jets that allow the wearer to fly, the ability to sustain life support for the wearer independent of the outside environment, and destructive beams that can be fired from the suit's gloves. These beams are known as repulsor rays. Other abilities of the suits over the years have included the ability to chameleon with the surroundings, a beam that shoots from the armor's chest, roller skates that pop from the boots, an EMP generator, and many other abilities. There have even been specialized suits that Iron Man has used over the years for specialized missions, including ones for underwater use and for space exploration, as well as a stealth suit that was invisible to detection from radar and such as well as being painted black for that extra cool touch.
Iron Man, along with the Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, and the Wasp, became
the founders of the super-hero group, the Avengers.