One thing is sure, there would be no ‘Avengers’ without Iron Man. Our favorite sarcastic billionaire, Tony Stark is one of the founding members of the famous group of vigilantes, as well as one of the most recognizable heroes in the Marvel Universe.
Although it might seem like the MCU has told us everything we need to know about the beloved character and his movies, here are 20 fun Iron Man facts you probably didn’t know until now.
1. The First Iron Man Movie was a Risky Bet
This is hard to imagine today, but making a superhero movie was not always a safe choice. In fact, in the early 2000s, it was the equivalent of wanting to make a traditional animated movie today. Even if it had the potential to work, the cost behind the production was likely to surpass the box office gains.
This is why it took Marvel 16 years to develop Iron Man before the 2008 movie was finally released into the wild. It ended up making the studio so much money and even kick-started the biggest cinematic universe ever created.
2. There’s a Real-life Millionaire Behind Tony Stark
Tony Stark didn’t just pop into Stan Lee’s imagination while he was eating cereal one morning. Stan actually based the character on a 20th century millionaire philanthropist named Howard Hughes.
Lee described this man as being “one of the most colorful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies’ man and finally a nutcase.” Sounds like a superhero we know!
3. Robert Downey Jr. Came to the Screen Test in a Tuxedo
Before he became the witty superhero we’ve loved for over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. was a respected actor albeit a complicated casting choice due to his infamous struggle with addiction. Marvel therefore hesitated before bringing him on board, but Kevin Feige and Jon Favreau did their best to convince the studios that he was the best option.
Part of that process was Robert coming all dressed up to the screen test to make a good impression. Argument well received!
4. Iron Man’s Origin Location Always Changes
In the first Iron Man movie, the superhero’s origin story unfolds in Afghanistan. This is where Tony becomes Iron Man and builds the suit. Yet in the comics, Stark created the suit in Vietnam, before the conflict was changed once again a few years later and became the Gulf War.
Obviously, Afghanistan made more sense for a 2008 release as contemporary viewers, especially young people, would naturally be more familiar with that conflict.
5. J.A.R.V.I.S Stands For…
Where would Tony Stark be without his highly intelligent AI system J.A.R.V.I.S, which basically seems to be holding his very busy, high-tech life together? Nowhere, that’s where.
But if you thought this acronym meant something nerdy, here’s some information for you – you might be surprised to hear that it is actually short for ‘Just a Rather Very Intelligent System’. Sometimes, less is more.
6. Tony was Once a Woman
If you’re not an avid comic book fan, you might need reminding that the Marvel Universe is, on paper, more difficult to comprehend than all the Game of Thrones family trees combined.
It contains many different dimensions, with various versions of one same character doing different things in different timelines. And in one such timeline, Tony happens to be a woman named Natasha Stark…who eventually falls in love with Captain America.
7. Area 51 Belongs to Tony
This top piece of trivia about Tony Stark might just blow your mind. We’ve all heard that Area 51 is a top secret place the US government uses as a headquarters for extraterrestrial matters.
In the Marvel comics however, it belongs entirely to Tony Stark! The only time it has ever mattered was when Tony needed to use it as a hiding place for one of the infinity stones.
8. Tony Went to Uni at 15
It’s obvious Tony Stark is a brilliant human being, but did you know that he graduated from MIT when he was only seventeen? Which means he entered the prestigious university to study chemical engineering when he was only fifteen. So although he was born into wealth, the man sure has his own smarts to thank for a major part of his fortune.
9. Iron Man’s Helmet Once had a Nose
This fun fact might make you chuckle. Around 1974, Stan Lee asked an illustrator why Iron Man’s helmet didn’t have a nose, so the illustrator gave it one. Stan rapidly realized this looked very odd and fortunately agreed to retract it. We’re not saying we’re relieved, but we’re relieved.
10. Tom Cruise Almost Played Tony Stark
The Mission: Impossible actor was the first pick for the role but he eventually quit the project because of creative differences. And although Tom is a great actor who would probably have done a pretty good job as the superhero, we can’t imagine anyone other than Robert to play the Tony we know and worship. We’re thankful he was the final choice.
11. Iron Man Joined the Guardians
In the comics, at some point in his Avengers career, Tony Stark decides to team up with none other than the Guardians of the Galaxy. Why? Because he is just too damn fascinated by alien technology and outer space. Which, knowing Tony’s love for innovation, shouldn’t come too much as a surprise.
12. Iron Man has a Suit for Every Occasion
Although we almost only see Tony Stark in his trademark red and gold suit in the movies, the inventor has about 53 different suits for different environments, including an underwater one. If this trivia tells us anything, it’s that good preparation is key, and Tony is overly ready.
13. The Avengers’ Success Helped the Iron Man Movies
Although the Iron Man movies were doing pretty good considering the gamble they had once represented for Marvel, the first Avengers movie still provided a huge boost to their little cousin’s budget.
Thanks to a box office jackpot of one billion dollars after the Avengers came out in 2012, the studios had enough to increase Iron Man 3’s budget and give Tony Stark’s solo franchise the majesty it deserved. It ended up becoming the most successful movie in the Iron Man trilogy.
14. He Has a Female Successor
Once upon a time, in the world of comics, Iron Man decided it was time to go sip a cocktail in the Bahamas and chose a worthy successor. She came in the form of Riri Williams, a 15 year-old MIT graduate who had conceived her very own Iron Man suit while in college.
Instead of being Iron Girl, though, Riri went for Ironheart, which sounds so cool, we’re furious Marvel hasn’t already broken the piggy bank to adapt it for the big screen. In the next phase, perhaps?
15. The Iron Man Comics Were a Gamble
When Stan Lee created the character in the early 1960s, in the heyday of the Cold War, he was skeptical about the concept’s appeal in such a political climate. People of all ages, including children, were generally fed up with the concept of war and the military.
It was fair to assume they probably wouldn’t be interested in the adventures of a rich weapons manufacturer who sold tools of destruction to the army. And yet! The readers loved Tony and that gamble paid off big time many years before the movie adaptation went through the same success story.
16. Iron Man Once Had Roller Skates
One thing that happened in the comics and must never be forgotten is that the Iron Man suit once had retractable roller skates. Yes, you read that right. In the 1970s, the creators added skates purely because it was all the rage with young people at the time.
A bit strange for a suit that gives you the ability to fly, but eh! To each their preferred mode of transportation. The idea was eventually dropped, anyway.
17. Captain America Taught him to Fight
Here’s a fact that makes us admire Captain America even more. In the comics, Tony Stark asked Captain America to teach him how to fight so that he would be able to defend himself without the suit. If that’s not friendship, we don’t know what is. But now we can’t help but feel the bitter irony of that fight scene in Civil War.
18. Tony Once Operated his Suit with his Tongue
There’s nothing more amusing than the idea of Tony Stark pressing the buttons on his suit with his tongue. And if you think this is coming from some steamy Tumblr fan-fiction, you’ll be mind-blown to know, it’s absolutely something that happened.
Back in the first comics, the character did not have an AI system to help him with the suit via simple vocal commands and he had to… use his tongue to pilot it all. We’re just glad no movie adaptation was attempted back then.
Want to dress as the iconic superhero? We’ve got Iron Man’s outfit in our list of Marvel costumes!
19. It Costs A Lot to Be Iron Man
He’s officially one of the richest Marvel superheroes. In fact, Mashable done an in-depth calculation to see how much it would cost to actually be Iron Man himself. By adding up everything Tony Stark owns including suits, houses, and cars, it would cost over $10 billion dollars.
20. Stan Lee Couldn’t Write Iron Man’s First Comic Appearance
This piece of trivia about Iron Man’s creator might surprise you. Stan Lee was a busy man and even if he came up with the character himself, it was Larry Lieber who wrote Tony’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense, while Jack Kirby illustrated it.
Although many fans think they know Tony Stark, there is no denying that the character will always be a little mysterious to us all. That’s precisely what makes him so appealing!
Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man has left an indelible mark in the hearts of Marvel fans worldwide and we can be sure that he will continue to do so through the movies and comics for many years to come.
If there are any interesting Iron Man facts and trivia you think we might have forgotten, let us know in the comments!
Want more fun Marvel trivia? Check out our list of facts about Captain America!