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.
Tony Stark’s dark night of the soul arrived in 2011 and with it came a startling descent into the bottle once more and a stirring challenge for the one and only true Iron Man.
The Armored Avenged clashed with Detroit Steel, a corporate armored agent, in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #32, and then realized that the drones fighting Rescue and War Machine honed in on their repulsor signatures. Having his friends shut down their armor, Stark drew the drones off by escaping in a prototype repulsor car. With pressure from their U.S. military co-conspirator, the Hammer Girls called off Detroit Steel in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #33, but arranged for the freeing of Ezekiel Stane and introduced Stark’s nemesis to The Mandarin.
Iron Man celebrated a big anniversary in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500 by joining with Spider-Man to fight extremists with Stilt-Man technology, which had its ramifications forward down the timeline. In INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500.1, Tony reaffirmed his sobriety at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and told everyone he’d finally found peace with himself. As a way forward, Stark promised to help rebuild the fabled city of Asgard in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #501 and help a dying Doctor Octopus in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #502.
While his friend looked to the future, James Rhodes acquired new armor, new mission, and new lease on life in IRON MAN 2.0.
In AVENGERS #7, Iron Man and the team learned that The Hood now possessed some of the all-powerful Infinity Gems, so Tony reassembled the Illuminati in AVENGERS #8 to address the crisis. Unfortunately, Steve Rogers discovered the existence of Stark’s covert team of movers and shakers and told his old friend in AVENGERS #9 his membership in the Avengers would come to an end once the danger passed. Still, Iron Man flew into battle with The Hood alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS #11 and even wielded the full Infinity Gauntlet in AVENGERS #12 to put an end to the villain’s chaos, ultimately bringing Rogers into the Illuminati and holding his place on the team.
The Serpent and his follower the new Red Skull came to Earth in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #503 and FEAR ITSELF #1, seeding the planet with mystical weapons and creating the Worthy, unstoppable avatars bent on destruction. Stark found himself in Paris to confront the Worthy known as Mokk in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #504 and watched as the former Grey Gargoyle shredded Detroit Steel and turned him to stone in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #505.
A heavily-damaged Stark retreated in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #506 and headed to the ruins of Asgard to make a sacrifice to call Odin for a boon in FEAR ITSELF #4. The sacrifice? His sobriety, the most precious thing that Tony possessed.
Odin heard Stark’s pleas for a workshop and the means to make weapons to fight The Serpent in FEAR ITSELF #5 and granted him the request in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #507. Tony began working in Svartalfheim with Splitlip, a dwarven smithy, while on Earth, Rescue and other heroes battled against Mokk. Stark threw himself into molten Uru metal in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #508 and FEAR ITSELF #6 to forge new armor for the coming fight.
Iron Man debuted his new suit in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #509, and then descended to Earth to pass out the weapons he’d made to his fellow heroes in FEAR ITSELF #7. The magical armament helped turn the tide against The Serpent and his lackeys, allowing Thor, mighty god of thunder, to defeat the villain in a resounding clash. In the end, after Earth’s heroes began to pick up the pieces, Iron Man asked the dwarves of Svartalfheim to reforge the shattered pieces of Captain America’s shield—broken by The Serpent—reforming the friendship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.