10 Pieces of Iron Man Lore Every New Readers Needs to Know

Though he may have gained prominence through the movies, Iron Man has been an important part of Marvel Comics for decades. Debuting in the Silver Age, the character combines advanced technology with sleek, smooth corporate politics. This is just the tip of the iceberg with Tony Stark, however, who’s since become far more than just a cool exec with a heart of steel.

Iron Man’s seen many major developments over the years, namely relating to his company. He’s had just as many changes of armor, love interests, and status quo in general. While there are a few points in his history that cross over with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Iron Man of the comics is a much different model entirely.

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This article discusses sensitive topics like alcoholism and addiction.

10 Iron Man Battled Alcoholism Twice

Tony Stark looks at his Iron Man helmet in Demon in a Bottle by Marvel Comics

One of Tony Stark’s most intense battles wasn’t against one of his armored enemies. Instead, the industrialist playboy became caught in the grip of alcohol, losing himself at the bottom of a bottle. The most iconic representation of this was “Demon In a Bottle,” though it wasn’t the only time that the Golden Avenger worked to leave an addiction behind.

During his feud with Obadiah Stane, Tony Stark lost his company and massive fortune. A far cry from the man of industry he used to be, Tony Stark once more turned to heavy drinking to find relief. After a homeless woman he befriended died in childbirth, however, Tony committed himself to protecting her child. He walked away from the habit and became Iron Man once more.

9 Rhodey Replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man Once

Rhodey dons Iron Man armor with his face in shadows

When he lost his company to Stane, Tony Stark also relinquished the Iron Man armor. Not wanting it to end up in Stane’s hands, he had his friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes become the new Iron Man. This actually lasted for a while, and it showcased how far Stark had fallen. Rhodey’s time in the Iron Man armor even involved an iconic storyline.

Secret Wars was Marvel’s first major crossover event, uniting all of its major heroes and villains. One of them was Iron Man, but it was actually Rhodey under the armor and not Tony Stark. Since then, Rhodes has occupied an armored alter ego of his own: War Machine.

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8 Tony Stark Originally Wore a Chest Plate

Iron Man's classic chest plate from the Silver Age.

The MCU portrayed Tony’s chest device as an arc reactor covering his heart. The comics didn’t start out with this concept. Instead, Tony wore something far clunkier. Instead of a small reactor, Iron Man had an entire chest plate/harness that kept him alive.

This device used magnets to keep debris and shrapnel from penetrating Stark’s heart. After suffering a near fatal heart attack, however, this issue was finally fixed. Undergoing an experimental process to remove his damaged tissue, he no longer had to wear the cumbersome chest piece.

7 Iron Man Used to Keep His Armor In His Bones

Iron Man dons Extremis armor in Marvel Comics

The “Extremis” storyline had a radical impact on Iron Man and his relationship to his armor. After injecting himself with the Extremis virus, Tony Stark rewrote his very DNA, merging with the techno-organic substance that also gave him control over technology. Likewise, his mechanical armor now stored itself in his bones, uniting with him whenever he needed it.

This meant that Tony Stark no longer needed to summon armors from far away or carry the armored pieces around in a suitcase. When the virus was disabled, he was forced to go back to basics. Extremis has since been removed from Stark’s DNA, however.

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6 Doctor Doom Fights Iron Man Almost as Much as the Fantastic Four

Doctor Doom in front of Iron Man's armors.

Doctor Doom is mostly associated with the Fantastic Four, with Reed Richards being his chief rival. Throughout the years, however, he’s developed a similar feud with Iron Man. Both are geniuses who use mechanical armor, with Tony Stark’s riches mirroring Doom ruling Latveria.

The main difference is that Doctor Doom uses magic, whereas Iron Man eschews it entirely. Given these similarities and their appearances, Doom arguably fits as Iron Man’s foe much more than he does the F4’s. In fact, Doom once replaced Tony as the “Infamous Iron Man” when Stark seemingly died.

5 Iron Man Fought Two Armor Wars for His Technology

Iron Man faces multiple armored foes in Marvel Comics' Armor Wars

One of Iron Man’s biggest storylines was “Armor Wars.” This arc involved Tony Stark tracking down his stolen technology, which was used to bolster the weapons of villains. Iron Man fought numerous members of his rogues’ gallery, including Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, and others.

The story was followed a few years later by a second “Armor Wars” arc. Since then, the Iron Man cartoon, the alternate Ultimate Universe, and other projects have adapted the story. Elements were even used in Iron Man 2, and a more direct adaptation focusing on Rhodey is set to release in the future.

4 The MCU’s Iron Monger Was Much Different in the Comic Books

Obadiah Stane as Iron Monger in the Comics

Iron Monger/Obadiah Stane was the first villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this incarnation of the character was his most mainstream portrayal yet. The MCU version differed from the comic books. In fact, his bald appearance and massive armor were the only things in common. In the comics, Stane was always a business rival of Tony’s and never passed himself off as a father figure to Stark.

Obadiah Stane’s plan to get rid of Tony Stark was much more involved, and it took several years to reduce Stark to nothing. Stane actually succeeded in controlling his rival’s company for a time, and it required Tony’s advanced Silver Centurion armor to defeat the massive Iron Monger. Stane eventually turned his weapons on himself when it became clear who the victor of the battle was.

3 Tony Stark Was Replaced by an AI “Clone”

The AI Tony Stark in an Iron Man armor.

After the events of Civil War II, Captain Marvel put Tony Stark into a coma. As he recovered from his injuries, the role of Iron Man went to a Tony Stark artificial intelligence. This construct was created to preserve Tony’s essence in the event he died.

The A.I. Tony operated for a while, but it wasn’t the only “Iron Man” flying around. Ironheart and Infamous Iron Man also took to the skies, but neither they, nor A.I. Tony, were the real deal. Since the real Tony Stark came back into action, these events haven’t been mentioned much.

RELATED: 10 Best Movie Superheroes With No Superpowers

2 Iron Man Temporarily Became a Villain

Iron Man's body lies smoking in Captain America's arms in Marvel Comics

The controversial storyline “The Crossing” is considered Iron Man’s equivalent to Spider-Man’s infamous Clone Saga. It revealed that Iron Man had been working with Kang the Conqueror for years, leading the former Avenger to turn on his allies. This forces the team to enlist Tony’s teenage counterpart. In the end, the evil Tony sacrificed himself.

“The Crossing” was part of a planned shakeup for the floundering Iron Man property. Just a few short months later, it got entirely undone thanks to the Heroes Reborn event. This was contentious as well, and when Iron Man and the other heroes returned to the mainstream Marvel Universe, the events of “The Crossing” were never mentioned.

1 Tony Stark Has Had Love Interests Besides Pepper Potts

Bethany Cabe points her finger at Iron Man.

The MCU made Pepper Potts Tony Stark’s one true love, but this wasn’t always the case in the comics. In fact, she was completely irrelevant to the Iron Man books for quite a while, with other leading ladies taking center stage in Tony’s life. These included Bethany Cabe (Tony’s other most prominent beloved), Rumiko Fujikawa, and even the villainous Madame Masque.

This long list of love interests reflects Tony Stark’s status as the James Bond of the Marvel Universe. Currently, Tony Stark’s set to marry X-Men member Emma Frost, and the nuptials will likely have a dramatic impact on the public reception to mutants. Given his playboy status, it’s no surprise that Tony changes potential ladies as much as he does his armor.

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