By Jim Beard
50 Years ago, Tony Stark became Iron Man, a historic milestone in the tapestry of the Marvel Universe.
Flash forward half a century, and the Armored Avenger has become a worldwide sensation. Beyond his prominent role across the Marvel Comics line, Shellhead hit the big screen in 2008 as Robert Downey Jr. brought Tony Stark to life in the first “Iron Man” movie. The character’s popularity grew in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” and 2011’s “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
On May 3, 2013, Tony Stark returned to theaters everywhere in “Iron Man 3.” In celebration of this momentous occasion and to commemorate Iron Man’s 50th anniversary, each week Marvel.com will be bringing you another chapter in the history of this complex and beloved character. Year by year, get an in-depth rundown of the trials, foes and experiences that have made Iron Man the hero he stands as today.
You can start here.
In 2010, Tony Stark got his self-erased mind back, as well as his supposedly deceased friend Steve Rogers. Never one to sit on his hands after a victory, from there the inventor and futurist really got down to the business of being Iron Man.
While his friends and associates debated re-booting his brain, Tony Stark dug down deep into his subconscious to hide away from the waking world in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #20. With instructions for the process from Tony himself, Pepper Potts and Maria Hill recruited Captain America and Thor to aid the recovery in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #21, but the intangible form of the Ghost, hired by Madame Masque to kill Stark, hung over the proceedings.
The re-start went off without a hitch in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #22, though Stark proved unresponsive in the consciousness department. Doctor Strange delved into Tony’s mind to help but discovered that our hero hid out in his own subconscious from horrible fears in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #23; Strange offered the mantra “I am Iron Man” as a path to a cure for Tony while in the outside world the Ghost caused a world of trouble for James Rhodes. Finally, Stark accepted his responsibilities as the Armored Avenger and surged back to life.
Waking, Iron Man defeated the Ghost in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #24 after being rescued by Maria Hill. Unfortunately, his memories remained incomplete and he began the long process of catching up on everything he’d missed while shutting down his brain.
Norman Osborn, head of H.A.M.M.E.R., used a trumped up disaster to justify an invasion of the fabled city of Asgard in SIEGE #1. Thor’s home floated over Broxton, Oklahoma, the small town that harbored the recuperating Tony Stark. Steve Rogers, back from the “dead” himself, rallied Earth’s heroes in SIEGE #2 and then sent for his old friend Iron Man to join the cause in SIEGE #3. Tony, in an old set of armor, shut down Osborn’s Iron Patriot suit but the battle continued when the Sentry revealed himself as the Void, an all-powerful evil entity. Iron Man shot the Helicarrier like a bullet at the Void in SIEGE #4, turning the tide for the heroes. Thor then took care of the entity once and for all.
In the aftermath of the Siege of Asgard, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Thor found themselves sucked up into the mystical energies of the Rainbow Bridge in AVENGERS PRIME #1. Deposited into the far-flung Nine Realms, the three heroes fought their way back to Earth and in the process re-bonded with each other, healing broken friendships torn asunder by the events of the super hero Civil War.
Justine Hammer and her daughter Sasha introduced an exo-suit called Detroit Steel in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25, but after crafting a new Iron Man model with Reed Richards, Tony Stark trumped all by announcing the formation of his new company, Stark Resilient. Then he issued a challenge to the countries of the world: use his repulsor technology to solve the global fuel problems or live without the tech forever.
The Hammer Girls met with Pakistani guerrillas to haggle over Detroit Steel in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #26 and then hired the Spymaster to take down Stark Resilient, lock, stock, and barrel. Tony joined the a teaming of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS #1 and immediately became embroiled in a mystery surrounding the time-hopping Kang the Conqueror who toted a “dark matter accelerator” doomsday device that Stark hadn’t yet built.
After viewing possible futures in AVENGERS #2, Iron Man constructed a time machine with the alien Noh-Varr in AVENGERS #3 and used it to hurtle the team into a strange possible future occupied with an aged Hulk and an older version of Tony. Stark negotiated with the evil robot Ultron in AVENGERS #5 to block Kang’s schemes and stood speechless in AVENGERS #6 as his future self gifted him with the dark matter accelerator.
Pepper wanted to become Rescue, her armored alter ego, again in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #27, but Iron Man flew off to Tokyo with War Machine to investigate Detroit Steel’s presence there. Pepper went under the knife to receive a repulsor disc of her own in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #28 while Tony and Rhodey discovered the Hammer Girls’ connection to Stark’s nemesis Ezekiel Stane and guessed at their plans for Detroit Steel. The U.S. government refused Stark’s request to utilize War Machine further in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #29, so he planned a lavish party instead—and invited Justine and Sasha to attend.
Iron Man threw down with a technologically-enhanced Sasha Hammer in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #30, but their battle broke up after Rescue’s arrived to stack the deck against the girl. Tony developed a repulsor-powered car after that, but it exploded unexpectedly. He then cancelled the upcoming Stark Expo in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #31 while the Hammer Girls argued amongst themselves over their next move; meanwhile, innocent civilians played a popular new game app and in doing so, unwittingly controlled an army of real-world drones in attack a Stark Resilient factory.