Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark was born in Long Island, New York, to Howard Anthony Stark and Maria Collins Carbonell Stark. In his youth, Tony Stark was a precociously intelligent young boy. When Tony was 7 he was sent to a boarding school, and during this experience he found people difficult to relate to. This was when he became fascinated by machines. By the age of 15 Tony had enrolled in MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated at the top of his class at age 19 with double masters in physics and engineering.
At the age of 21, his parents were tragically killed in a car accident. Afterwards, Tony inherited Stark Industries, an unparalleled mega-conglomerate that mostly manufactured weapons for the United States military. One of his first projects as the new CEO was to purchase the manufacturer who designed his parents’ car and have the faulty brake system, which was seemingly the cause of their deaths, redesigned in order to prevent any further incidents, thus saving lives. Unknown to Stark, the true architect of his parents’ deaths was a business move by Republic Oil (later renamed Roxxon Oil). Lacking in business skills, Tony promoted secretary Pepper Potts to be his executive assistant and left the majority of his workload on her so that he could avoid what he saw as a burden.
During the war in Afghanistan, Stark was at one of his munitions plants testing new technology for the military when he was injured by his own land mine that lodged shrapnel near his heart. Tony was then captured by a local warlord named Wong-Chu (a lackey of the Mandarin) and forced under threat of death to create a doomsday weapon for him with another captive, the famed Nobel award-winning physicist, Yin Sen. The shrapnel was going to enter his heart and kill him, but he and the physicist created an arc reactor which kept the sharpnel away from his heart. In response, Tony built a suit of armor to help himself escape captivity. In the suit, Stark took on the warlord and his men and avenged Yin Sen’s death, thus Iron Man was born.
After fleeing from enemy territory Tony met and befriended the pilot James Rhodes who had been shot down in his helicopter. By working together, they were able to make their escape and upon arriving back in the United States, Tony decided to continue being Iron Man in order to fight injustice. He believed that he had a limited amount of time left to live due to his injury, and therefore wanted to make the most of it. Therefore, he began making vast improvements to the technology of his power armor.
When Tony finally admitted his double identity to his fiancee Joanna Nivena, she encouraged him to use the armor to become a super hero and save lives. Iron Man began to establish himself as one of the U.S.’s most eminent super heroes, but while halting a breakout of lions and tigers from a circus, Tony saw how his armor frightened the people he was defending. Asking his date Marion what she would do if she were Iron Man, Tony painted his armor in stainless gold. Tony Stark allowed the public at large to believe that he was no more than a rich playboy while his identity as Iron Man would remain a secret. Since Iron Man was often seen at Stark Industries, Tony circulated the idea that Iron Man was his personal bodyguard. Stark, of course, still had his heart condition which meant that any day could potentially be his last. Luckily for him, his heart condition became publicly known and he was eventually healed by way of an artificial heart transplant.
When testing his “Stark Special” race car, Tony wound up in a wreck, but was saved at the last minute by ex-boxer Harry “Happy” Hogan . To repay Happy, Tony hired him as a chauffeur, although Happy became more like a bodyguard, resenting Iron Man. At the same time, former Stark Industries scientist Gregor Shapanka menaced Tony as Jack Frost (later renamed Blizzard), a villain who could generate ice. Happy would often try to play for Pepper’s affection, but she was more interested in Tony. However, as Tony’s heart could fail at any time, he didn’t want to commit himself to a serious relationship since he could die unexpectedly. Happy remained extremely faithful to Tony, telling Iron Man straight out that if he had harmed Tony he would regret it during a period in which Iron Man was thought to have killed Tony. Happy even almost died when delivering a device to Iron Man that would stop Titanium Man.
When Loki framed the Hulk for wrecking a train in the hope that Thor would battle him, the Hulk’s friend Rick Jones sent a message to the Fantastic Four asking for their help. Loki then diverted the message to Thor. What he didn’t realize was that Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp had also intercepted it. After Thor, the Hulk, Ant-Man, Wasp and Iron Man all defeated Loki together, Ant-Man suggested that the five of them stayed together as a team, and the Wasp dubbed them the Avengers. Shortly afterwards, after a fight with the Space Phantom, the Hulk decided to quit since he thought no one trusted him. Whilst in pursuit of the Hulk and Namor(whom he had teamed up with), the Avengers came upon the body of Captain America, a legendary World War II fighter. The Avengers accepted him into their ranks, and he became close friends with Iron Man. Iron Man even gave Captain America transistors to control the flight of his shield, although Captain America later discarded them since they upset the balance of the shield. After a fight with the original Masters of Evil which ended with Baron Helmut Zemo being killed, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Wasp and Thor all decided to quit for a while since they needed a break. Captain America stayed on and became the new leader of the Avengers, which now consisted of Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
When Tony was targeted by the mysterious villain Mr. Doll, who was forcing millionaires to give their funds to him, he was completely powerless against Mr. Doll’s power to cause pain using a mystic doll (similar to voodoo). In order to defeat Mr. Doll, Tony completely redesigned his armor into light fitting armor rather than his previously heavy and bulky Armor. With this new armor, he was able to defeat Mr. Doll in a rematch.
Iron Man initially fought primarily against enemies that were a threat to him or his company, such as The Mandarin, The Melter, The Ghost, and Spymaster. He also fought against communist enemies (the 1960’s, when Iron Man first debuted, was a time of unparalleled anti-communism) such as The Crimson Dynamo, (the first of who would defect to the U.S.A. and later gave up his life to stop the second Crimson Dynamo) Black Widow (who would later defect to the US), The Titanium Man, and others. Iron Man was also one of the founding members of the Avengers and, with Tony’s fortune, he was able to fund the team through the Maria Stark Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization named after his late mother. He also donated the use of his boyhood manor which became Avengers Mansion, staffed by Edwin Jarvis.
Over time, Tony evolved into a more complex and vulnerable individual as his dual life as a superhero caused him numerous personal problems. He became the victim of corporate takeovers and would lose and rebuild his fortune multiple times. Tony would also eventually be led to a alcohol addiction when he discovered that SHIELD, who he had previously supported, was seeking to buy controlling stocks in his company, thus ensuring his continued weapons development for them.
Later, Tony would become bankrupt and homeless when he lost his company to his rival, Obadiah Stane, who had been manipulating him for some time. During this event, his friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes even took on the mantle of Iron Man. Stark would begin rebuilding his fortune when he created a company named Circuits Maximus, which specialized in computer technology. While this was happening, Rhodes was slowly going mad while using the Iron Man armor since its unique interface was designed for Stark’s nervous system, and not his own. He eventually succumbs and goes on a rampage. This caused Tony to use a prototype armor that was not yet finished in order to stop Rhodey from causing any more destruction.
Following this incident, Rhodes repeatedly tried to convince Tony to resume the Iron Man mantle, who kept refusing. Now somewhat fearful of his past alcoholism, and how Stane had abused it, Tony felt that he had grown dependent upon the armour, whilst he had “rotted” on the inside. As a result, Tony didn’t feel worthy of the high-tech armour which Rhodes used, and relied on a suit of armour which visually looked almost exactly the same as his original, grey armour (but which was much more sophisticated). As Tony continued fighting crime in this suit, Stane realised that Tony wasn’t as beaten as he had assumed, and repeatedly tried various tactics to destroy Tony and make him sink into alcoholism once more. This all culminated in Stane kidnapping many of Tony’s allies and friends, and bombing Circuits Maximus. As a result of this bombing, Rhodes was injured too badly to use his suit of armour, and Tony’s friend Morley Erwin was killed. Obadiah Stane incorrectly assumed that as a result Tony would feel that he had failed, and take up drinking again to cope.
While Stark is continuing to use the Iron Man armor he discovers that its interface design was causing severe damage to his nervous system. He began remotely controlling the Iron Man armors, but after a failed mission against the Masters of Silence, he realizes that controlling the Iron Man armor is not as effective as being inside it. This leads to Tony designing the War Machine Armor, previously dubbed as the “Variable Threat Response Battle Suit.” His nervous system would continue to deteriorate however, even to the point where it was life-threatening. Tony had to fake his own death and be put into suspended animation in order to survive. Even close friends like James Rhodes were unaware of his faked death, and when he would later reveal the deception it would cause a serious rift in their relationship. Also during this time, James Rhodes would watch over the company and continue Iron Man’s career by using the “Variable Threat Response Battle Suit.”
Of course Tony would eventually awaken and survive with a chip he programmed and implanted in himself. An enraged Rhodes takes the “Variable Threat Response Battle Suit” and begins his own career as the hero known as War Machine. Tony continues his super hero career and eventually gets into a feud with the Avengers after the Kree- Shi’ar War, resulting in him quitting the team. Tony would create a new group called Force Works, but eventually left that team as well because of another falling out. In time, Iron Man would decide to reconcile with the Avengers, and he rejoins them.
It was revealed that Stark, in the days following the Kree- Skrull war had formed a secret society or group called the Illuminati, which is a governing body of super heroes. The other members of this still functioning group consist of Mr. Fantastic, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Namor. Their first meeting was in Wakanda where the group also offered membership to the Black Panther, whom politely rejected it. However, although the rest of the members had different views and did not believe that an alliance like this would be of much use, they still agree to work together and at least share information. In one case, shortly before the events of Civil War, the Illuminati decided to launch the Hulk into outer space feeling. He soon found out that the governent was making decisions on the Super Human Registration Act. At first, Stark is very much against the idea, even going so far as to hire the Titanium Man to attack him in order to manipulate public opinion in his favor. Tony also tries to talk the government out of Registration but his appeal is ignored after the tragedy at Stamford, Connecticut, in which members of the New Warriors confronted a villain named Nitro in a residential neighborhood, setting off an explosion that killed many innocent lives. When the heroes unite in the face of this tragedy in Stamford , they move around some of the rubble to find if there are any survivors. Meanwhile, Tony tells Wolverine who has caught Nitro’s scent to go after him. The trail leaves cold next to the water, but Iron Man lets Wolverine borrow one of his suits to traverse underwater.
After the Stamford incident and another in which Tony’s armors are hacked and used to attack innocent people, Stark reconsiders his position and the morality of super human registration. He reversed his decision and publicly spearheading the support for the Super-human Registration Act. Support among the super hero community is mixed however, and the conflict leads to the Civil War in the Marvel Universe.
Stark was able to convince many heroes including Spider-Man to join the pro-registration side and ban the law. Tony also convinced Spider-Man to show the whole world his identity. They begin to hunt down heroes who on the anti-registration side who have gone rogue, led by Captain America. Tony also worked with Mr. Fantastic to build a prison in the The Negative Zone to hold rogue superhumans, but many heroes begin to question the methods of Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic when a Thor clone they created kills Bill Foster, the second Goliath, a friend on the anti-registration side, the combined trauma of witnessing Foster’s death, the firsthand view of the Prison 42 and a heated fight with Captain America causes Spider-Man to see the error of his ways. He publicly admits his mistake and joins Captain America’s anti-reg forces much to Iron Man’s anger. Further questions about their motives arise when it is discovered that they are using former villains to hunt down anti-registration forces. When the anti-registration heroes decide to attack the Negative Zone, it triggers the final battle of the Civil War. While Iron Man is facing off against Captain America his armor is shut down by the Vision. Captain America begins savagely beating Iron Man until he realizes the damage that the war has caused. Captain America then decides to surrender in order to prevent any more bloodshed but still refuses to register. Afterwards, Maria concedes her position as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
While Captain America was being brought into SHIELD custody he was shot by Crossbones, later revealed to be working for the Red Skull. Many of the anti-registration heroes even go so far as to presume Iron Man to be involved with regards to Steve’s death. While Iron Man was grieving over Steve’s dead body in a SHIELD facility, Wolverine breaks in and tells Stark that if I ever found him to be involved in any way to Steve’s death, he will personally kill him.
Later, Iron Man decides that there must always be a Captain America and that the dream must live on. He asks the newly resurrected Hawkeye if he would like to take over the mantle. Hawkeye refuses and eventually Bucky is given the role.
As stated, before the start of the Civil War, Iron Man and several other members of the secret group of heroes known as the Illuminati deemed the Hulk a threat to Earth due to the destruction which accompanied his many rampages. The Illuminati lured the Hulk into a space-faring vessel and launched him into outer space in order to send him to a world where his power would not be a threat to the sanctity of innocent lives. The World War Hulk story occurs upon his return as the Hulk seeks revenge on Iron Man and the other Illuminati members.
Tony Stark is the first hero to confront the Hulk upon his return, hoping to prevent any further loss of life on Earth. Donning a modified “Hulkbuster” armor, Iron Man engages the Hulk in combat in Manhattan (whose population was previously evacuated to safety by S.H.I.E.L.D. upon Stark’s orders). Iron Man makes an attempt to use specially designed nanobots to deactivate the Hulk’s powers, but this proves unsuccessful due to the nanobots being sabotaged beforehand by a member of the Initiative. His new Hulkbuster armor and Stark Tower are destroyed in the battle that ensues. While being held captive in Madison Square Garden arena, Tony Stark manages to contact Dum Dum Dugan via his extremis enhanced powers and informs Dugan of a last resort plan to prevent the Hulk from attacking the rest of the world. The plan is to send the entirety of Manhattan into the Negative Zone. The plan would have the affect of killing himself, the Hulk, the Warbound, and all heroes and agents on the island. He trusts Dugan to know if and when he should execute the plan. Stark is later seen fighting with his fellow Illuminati members in the arena, defeating a gigantic tentacle monster. After the battle, the Hulk forces Tony and Mr. Fantastic to face off in combat via the obedience disks implanted into each of them. Mr. Fantastic defeats Tony, and the Hulk orders him to kill Stark. It was in that instant that the Sentry came in the arena and begin to battle the Hulk and after Hulk goes on a berserker rampage over the wounding of his friend, Rick Jones, by his fellow Warbound, Miek, Stark orders his satellite to fire a gamma inducing energy onto the Hulk, thus knocking him unconscious.
During the events of AXIS, the Red Skull (now in possession of the mind and powers of Charles Xavier) uses his psychic abilities to force Tony to create a new breed of adamantium Sentinels to hunt down the Avenger and X-Men. The Sentinels are also shown programmed with the contingency plans Tony concocted to take down his fellow heroes during the Civil War. Though the Red Skull (now known as Red Onslaught) is defeated at Genosha, his final clash with Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange results in an Inversion wave that alters the personalities of all the heroes and villains present at the island.
Heading to San Francisco, Tony sets up shop and dons a new silver suit of armor as the Superior Iron Man. The Inversion causes Tony to return to his original boozy, arrogant playboy personality, with an emphasis on profit over the safety of others. He releases his new Extremis app to every citizen in the city, and then begins charging people 99 dollars a day to use it.
Just before the final Incursion, Captain America engage in a duel to the death, with both heroes perishing just before the planet explodes. Iron Man is later reborn on Battleworld, with his Inversion seemingly undone.
Following an eight month time skip, Tony is now having financial trouble. He builds a new suit of armor capable of changing size and shape to fit any situation, and sets out to make himself an Iron Man for the modern era.
Along the way, he forms a new team of Avengers with Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, the new Captain America, Nova, Vision, and the new Thor.