Marvel Character Bibliography

This article is about the Marvel Comics villain. For people with the given name or surname, see Thanos (name).

Thanos (UK:, US:) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Mike Friedrich and writer-artist Jim Starlin, the character first appeared in Iron Man #55 (cover dated Feb. 1973).

The character appears in various Marvel Cinematic Universe films, including The Avengers (2012), portrayed by Damion Poitier, and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and its untitled sequel (2019), portrayed by Josh Brolin. The character has appeared in other Marvel-endorsed products, including animated television series, arcade, and video games.


Writer-artist Jim Starlin originally conceived of Thanos of Titan during college psychology classes. As Starlin described:

I went to college between doing U.S. military service and getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos ... and Drax the Destroyer, but I'm not sure how he fit into it, just anger management probably. So I came up to Marvel and [editor] Roy [Thomas] asked if I wanted to do an issue of Iron Man. I felt that this may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it. Thanos was a much thinner character and Roy suggested beefing him up, so he's beefed up quite a bit from his original sketches ... and later on I liked beefing him up so much that he continued to grow in size.[2]

Starlin has admitted the character is influenced by Jack Kirby's Darkseid:

Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You'd think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said: "Beef him up! If you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!"[3]

Publication history[edit]

Thanos' first appearance was in Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973), featuring a story by Jim Starlin that was scripted by Mike Friedrich. The storyline from that issue continued through Captain Marvel #25–33 (bi-monthly: March 1973 – Jan. 1974), Marvel Feature #12 (Nov. 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan. 1974), and Avengers #125 (July 1974). He returned in an extended storyline that spanned Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975), Warlock #9-11 (Oct. 1975 – Jan. 1976), Marvel Team Up #55 (March 1977), and the 1977 Annuals for Avengers and Marvel Two-in-One (Thanos does not actually appear until the end of Warlock #9). He was also featured in a short backup story in Logan's Run #6 (June 1977) and had a small role in the Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel (April 1982).

The character was revived in Silver Surfer vol. 3, #34 (Feb. 1990) and guest-starred until issue #59 (November 1991), while simultaneously appearing in The Thanos Quest #1–2 (Sept.–Oct. 1990) and Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July–Dec. 1991). After an appearance in Spider-Man #17 (Dec. 1991), Thanos had a recurring role in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1-42 (Feb. 1992 – Aug. 1995). This was followed by crossover appearances in Infinity War #1-6 (June – Nov. 1992), Infinity Crusade #1–6 (June – Nov. 1993), Silver Surfer vol. 3, #86-88 (Nov. 1993 – Jan. 1994), Warlock Chronicles #6-8, Thor #468–471 (Nov. 1993 – Feb. 1994), Namor The Sub-Mariner #44 (Nov. 1993), Secret Defenders #11-14 (Jan.–April 1994), Cosmic Powers #1–6 (March–July 1994), and Cosmic Powers Unlimited #1 (May 1995).

Thanos appeared in a connected storyline in Ka-Zar vol. 2, #4–11 (Aug. 1997 – March 1998), Ka-Zar Annual (1997), and the X-Man and Hulk Annual (1998), before featuring in Thor vol. 2, #21–25 (March–July 2000) and the 2000 Annual. The character was next used in Captain Marvel vol. 4, #17–19 (June–Aug. 2001), Avengers: Celestial Quest #1-8 (Nov. 2001 – June 2002), Infinity Abyss #1-6 (Aug.–Oct. 2002) and Marvel: The End #1-6 (May-Aug 2003).

In 2004 Thanos received an eponymous title that ran for 12 issues. In 2006, the character played an important role in Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1-4 (June – Sept. 2006) and Annihilation #1-6 (Oct. 2006 – March 2007). The character was re-introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, #24-25 (April–May 2010) and played a major role in The Thanos Imperative: Ignition (June 2010) and The Thanos Imperative #1-6 (July–Dec. 2010).

The character returned in Avengers Assemble #1 (March 2012).[4] A mini-series titled Thanos: Son of Titan by Joe Keatinge was planned for publication in August 2012, but was cancelled.[5]

The character's origin was expanded in the five-issue Thanos Rising miniseries by Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi which was published monthly beginning in April 2013.[6] Later that same year, Thanos played a central role in the Infinity miniseries written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, and Dustin Weaver.

In May 2014, Jim Starlin and Ron Lim worked together on the one-shot Thanos Annual, which is a prelude to a new trilogy of original graphic novels. The first, Thanos: The Infinity Revelation, was released the following August.[7][8] Beginning in February 2015, Starlin also penned a four-issue miniseries titled Thanos vs. Hulk, which was set prior to the graphic novels. The second installment in the trilogy, Thanos: The Infinity Relativity, was released in June, 2015.[9] The third graphic novel, Thanos: The Infinity Finale, as well as the connected mini-series The Infinity Entity were published in 2016.[10]

At the same time Starlin was writing these graphic novels and tie-ins, the character also appeared in New Avengers #23-24 (Oct-Nov 2014),[11]Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3, #18-20 (Oct-Dec 2014), Legendary Star-Lord #4 (Dec 2014), a six-issue miniseries titled Thanos: A God Up There Listening (Dec 2014), Avengers vol. 5, #40-41 (Mar-Apr 2015), and Deadpool vol. 3, #45 ("#250") (Jun 2015). Thanos also played a major role in the five-issue miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet vol. 2, (July 2015 – Jan 2016), a tie-in of the cross-over Secret Wars (2015).

Fictional character biography[edit]

Thanos was born on Saturn's moon Titan, and is the child of EternalsMentor and Sui-San. Thanos carries the Deviants gene, and as such shares the physical appearance of the Eternals' cousin race. At birth, his mother was shocked by his appearance and attempted to kill him. During his school years, Thanos was a pacifist[12] and would only play with his brother Eros (Starfox) and pets. By adolescence, Thanos had become fascinated with nihilism and death, worshipping and eventually falling in love with the physical embodiment of death, Mistress Death.[13] As an adult, Thanos augmented his physical strength and powers mystically and artificially. He also attempted to create a new life for himself by starting a family. He is visited again by Mistress Death, for whom he murders his family.[14]

Cosmic Cube and Infinity Gems[edit]

Wishing to impress Mistress Death, Thanos gathers an army of villainous aliens and begins a nuclear bombardment of Titan that kills millions of his race.[15] Seeking universal power in the form of the Cosmic Cube, Thanos travels to Earth. Prior to landing, his vessel destroys a nearby car as a family witnesses his arrival.[16] Unbeknownst to Thanos, two of the family members in the vehicle survive: the father's spirit is preserved by the Titanian cosmic entity Kronos and is given a new form as Drax the Destroyer while the daughter is found by Thanos' father, Mentor, and is raised to become the heroine Moondragon. Thanos eventually locates the Cube, and also attracts the attention of Mistress Death. Willing the Cube to make him omnipotent, Thanos then discards the Cube. He imprisons Kronos and taunts Kree hero Captain Marvel, who with the aid of superhero team the Avengers and ISAAC (a super-computer based on Titan), is eventually able to defeat Thanos by destroying the Cube.[17]

Thanos later comes to the aid of Adam Warlock in a war against the Magus and his religious empire.[18][19] During this alliance Thanos cultivates a plan to reunite with Mistress Death, and secretly siphons off the energies of Warlock's Soul Gem, and combines these with the power of the other Infinity Gems to create a weapon capable of destroying a star. Warlock summons the Avengers and Captain Marvel to stop Thanos, although the plan is foiled when Thanos kills Warlock. The Titan regroups and captures the heroes, who are freed by Spider-Man and the Thing. Thanos is finally stopped by Warlock, whose spirit emerges from the Soul Gem and turns the Titan to stone.[15][20] Thanos's spirit eventually reappears to accompany a dying Captain Marvel's soul into the realm of Death.[21]

The Infinity saga[edit]

Thanos is eventually resurrected,[22] and collects the Infinity Gems once again.[23] He uses the gems to create the Infinity Gauntlet, making himself omnipotent, and erases half the living things in the universe to prove his love to Death.[24] This act and several other acts are soon undone by Adam Warlock.[25] Warlock reveals that Thanos has always allowed himself to be defeated because the Titan secretly knows he is not worthy of ultimate power. Thanos joins Warlock as part of the Infinity Watch and helps him to defeat first his evil[26] and then good[27] personas, and cure Thor of "warrior Madness".[28]

The events above have been dubbed the "Infinity saga."[29]

Other adventures[edit]

Thanos later recruits a team of Earth-bound super-villains and puts them under the field leadership of Geatar in a mission to capture an ancient robot containing the obscure knowledge of a universal library and extract its data.[30] Thanos uses information from the robot to plot against and battle Tyrant, the first creation of Galactus turned destroyer.[31] When trapped in an alternate dimension, Thanos employs the aid of the brother of Ka-Zar, Parnival Plunder[32] and later the Hulk[33] to escape, although both attempts are unsuccessful. Thanos is eventually freed and comes into conflict with Thor, aligning himself with Mangog in a scheme to obtain powerful mystical and cosmic talismans which will allow him to destroy all life in the universe,[34] and during their battles Thanos decimates the planet Rigel-3.[35]

Thanos then uses the heroes Thor and Genis-Vell (Captain Marvel's son) against the death god Walker, who attempts to woo Mistress Death and then destroy the entity after being rejected.[36] Thanos then devises a plan to become the All-Father of a new pantheon of gods created by himself. Thanos, however, finds himself opposed by the Avengers' former member Mantis and her son Quoi, who apparently is destined to be the Celestial Messiah. Thanos abandons this plan after having to unite with Mistress Death to destroy the "Rot", a cosmic aberration in deep space caused by Thanos's incessant love for Death.[37] Thanos also once conducted extensive research on genetics, and after studying many of the universe's heroes and villains cloned them and gene-spliced his own DNA into the subjects. Although he later abandons the project, five clones survive, being versions of Professor X, Iron Man, Gladiator, Doctor Strange, and Galactus respectively. A sixth and unnamed version of Thanos also appears, and it is revealed the incarnations of Thanos encountered in the past by Thor and Ka-Zar were actually clones. The true Thanos – with the aid of Adam Warlock, Gamora, Pip the Troll, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Dr. Strange – destroys the remaining clones.[38]

When the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten uses a source of cosmic power, the Heart of the Universe, to seize power in present-day Earth (killing most of Earth's heroes in the process), Thanos uses a time-travel stratagem to defeat him. Thanos then uses the Heart of the Universe to reverse Akhenaten's actions and was also compelled to correct a flaw in the universe. Changed by the experience, Thanos advises confidant Adam Warlock he will no longer seek universal conquest.[39] However, Marvel's Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has stated on his Tumblr blog that this story is not in any way a part of official Marvel continuity.[40][41]

Thanos decides to atone for the destruction of Rigel-3, and agrees to aid a colony of Rigellians in evacuating their planet before Galactus can consume it. During the course of this mission Thanos learns Galactus is collecting the Infinity Gems in an effort to end his unyielding hunger. Thanos later learns Galactus is being manipulated into releasing a multiversal threat called Hunger, which feeds on entire universes. Despite opposition from Thanos, Galactus unwittingly frees the entity, and when its intentions are revealed, the pair team up and attempt to destroy it.[42]

En route to the Kyln, an intergalactic prison, Thanos meets Death, who for the first time speaks to the Titan. Death claims to be worth wooing, but says Thanos must offer something other than death. At the Kyln Thanos encounters Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, and the Shi'ar warrior Gladiator, who are both prisoners, and the Beyonder, who has been rendered amnesiac by its choice to assume a humanoid female form. Thanos battles the Beyonder, causing its mind to shut down and leaving its power trapped within a comatose physical form. Thanos then instructs the Kyln officers to keep the Beyonder on life support indefinitely in order to prevent the entity from being reborn.[43] Thanos departs the Kyln in the company of Skreet, a chaos-mite freed from the prison. Thanos then meets the Fallen, revealed to be the true first Herald of Galactus. Thanos defeats the former Herald and places him under complete mental control.[44] He later appears in Wisconsin attempting to charge a weapon called the Pyramatrix with the life force of everyone on Earth until he is defeated by Squirrel Girl. After the battle, Uatu the Watcher appears and confirms to Squirrel Girl that she defeated the real Thanos, not a clone or copy.[45]


Main article: Annihilation (comics)

During the Annihilation War Thanos allies himself with the genocidal villain Annihilus. When the Annihilation Wave destroys the Kyln, Thanos sends the Fallen to check on the status of the Beyonder, whose mortal form he finds has perished. Before the Fallen can report back to Thanos it encounters Tenebrous and Aegis: two of Galactus's ancient foes. Thanos convinces Tenebrous and Aegis to join the Annihilation Wave in order to get revenge on Galactus, and they subsequently defeat the World Devourer and the Silver Surfer. Annihilus desires the secret of the Power Cosmic and asks Thanos to study Galactus. Once Thanos learns Annihilus's true goal is to use the Power Cosmic to destroy all life and remain the sole survivor, he decides to free Galactus. Drax the Destroyer kills Thanos before he can do so but discovers that Thanos had placed a failsafe device to allow Silver Surfer to free Galactus in the event that Annihilus betrayed him.[46] During a climactic battle with Annihilus, Nova is near death and sees Thanos standing with Mistress Death.[47]

The Thanos Imperative[edit]

Main article: The Thanos Imperative

A cocoon protected by the Universal Church of Truth is revealed to be hiding Thanos, who has been chosen by Oblivion to be the new Avatar of Death.[48] Resurrected before his mind could be fully formed, Thanos goes on a mindless rampage before being captured by the Guardians of the Galaxy.[49] Thanos pretends to aid the Guardians against the invading Cancerverse, and after discovering its origin kills an alternate version of Mar-Vell, the self-proclaimed Avatar of Life. This causes the collapse of the Cancerverse, and Nova sacrifices himself in an attempt to contain Thanos inside the imploding reality.[50] Thanos escapes[51] and returns to Earth seeking an artificial cosmic cube. He forms an incarnation of the criminal group Zodiac to retrieve it, but he is defeated by the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy and remanded to the custody of the Elders of the Universe.[52]

Infinity and the Cabal[edit]

Main article: Infinity (comic book)

Thanos soon invades Earth again after being informed that most of the Avengers have temporarily left the planet.[53] He launches an assault on Attilan, which he offers to spare in exchange for the deaths of all Inhumans between the ages of 16 and 22. Black Bolt later informs the Illuminati that the true purpose of the invasion is to find and kill Thane, an Eternal/Inhuman hybrid that Thanos had secretly fathered years earlier.[54] Thanos is trapped in a pocket limbo of stasis by his son.[55] Thanos is freed by Namor and was among the villains that joined his Cabal to destroy other worlds.[56] Thanos later meets his end on Battleworld, where he is easily killed by God Emperor Doom during an attempted insurrection.[57]

Ultimates and Civil War II[edit]

Main article: Civil War II

Thanos is unintentionally brought back to life by Galactus.[58] When Thanos prepares to raid a Project Pegasus facility to steal a Cosmic Cube, he is ambushed and defeated by a team of Avengers. During their battle, he mortally wounds War Machine and critically injures She-Hulk.[59][60][61] After his defeat, he is imprisoned in the Triskelion,[62] and manipulates Anti-Man into facilitating his escape.[63] Thanos goes on a killing spree, but Black Panther, Blue Marvel and Monica Rambeau are able to stop him by devising a device that blocks the electrical synapses in his brain.[64]

Thanos somehow later recovers and escapes captivity, and reclaims his Black Order forces from Corvus Glaive. After retaking command of his Black Quadrant outpost, Thanos discovers that he is dying.[65] Thanos tries to force Mentor to find a cure for his malady, but kills him when he is unable to.[66] Around this time, Thanos is approached by a mysterious hooded woman, who proposes an alliance. He tasks her with bringing him the hammer of the deceased Ultimate Thor.[67] The woman fails, but removes her disguise to reveal herself as Hela, the Norse goddess of death. She tells Thanos that she needs his help to reclaim Hel, and in exchange, offers to give him the one thing he has been searching for his entire life: death. After this, the two kiss.[68]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Thanos is a mutant member of the race of superhumans known as the Titanian Eternals. The character possesses abilities common to the Eternals, but amplified to a higher degree through a combination of his mutant–Eternal heritage, bionic amplification, mysticism, and power bestowed by the abstract entity, Death. Demonstrating enormous superhuman strength, stamina, and durability, Thanos can absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy and is capable of telekinesis, telepathy, and matter manipulation. Thanos is an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained in the art of war on Titan.

Thanos has proven himself capable of briefly holding his own in battle against Odin,[69] and of blasting Galactus off his feet.[70]

Thanos is a supergenius in virtually all known fields of advanced science and has created technology far exceeding contemporary Earth science. He often employs a transportation chair capable of space flight, force field projection, teleportation, time travel, and movement through alternate universes. Thanos is also a master strategist and uses several space vessels, at least three under the name "Sanctuary", as a base of operations.

Other versions[edit]

Amalgam Comics[edit]

During the 1996 Amalgam Comics crossover between DC Comics and Marvel, Thanos merged with Darkseid to become "Thanoseid".[71]

Earth X[edit]

In the alternate universe limited series Earth X, Thanos dwelled in the Realm of the Dead with the entity Death.[72] It is revealed his mother was a Skrull and Death used her secret to make him believe that Death was his mother. When the deception is revealed, he uses the Ultimate Nullifier on Death.[73]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

The Ultimate Marvelimprint title Ultimate Fantastic Four features an alternate universe version of Thanos who is the ruler of Acheron (and has a son called Ronan the Accuser, who is in possession of a Cosmic Cube[74]), a vast empire consisting of thousands of worlds that exist in another plane of existence.[75]

Marvel Zombies 2[edit]

Thanos features in the limited series Marvel Zombies 2, set in the alternate universe of Earth-2149. Having been "zombified", the character is killed by the cosmic-powered Hulk after an altercation over food.[76]

In other media[edit]



Video games[edit]

  • Thanos appeared in the Capcom fighting games Marvel Super Heroes[citation needed] and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 as a playable character, voiced by Andrew Jackson.[citation needed]
  • Thanos appears as a downloadable content character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes.[91]
  • Thanos appears as a playable character of Lego Marvel's Avengers, voiced by Isaac C. Singleton Jr.[citation needed]
  • Thanos is a playable character in Marvel Future Fight.[92]
  • Thanos is available to play with in Marvel: Contest of Champions.[citation needed]
  • There are two playable versions of Thanos in the match-three mobile game Marvel Puzzle Quest. Thanos was added to the game in December 2016.[93]
  • Thanos appears in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, voiced by Jake Hart.[94] In the first chapter, Thanos seeks the Eternity Forge, an ancient artifact. He is killed in a battle with the Nova Corps and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Thanos appears as a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite,[95] voiced again by Isaac C. Singleton Jr.[96] In this game, Thanos no longer has the Infinity Stone-based moves from the previous Marvel vs. Capcom games. In the story mode, he was originally captured by Ultron Sigma (a fusion between Ultron and Sigma from Capcom's Mega Man X series), until he is rescued by the remaining heroes and soon must aid the heroes to devise another plan in combatting Ultron Sigma.


  • Thanos is the protagonist of the 2017 novel Thanos: Death Sentence by Stuart Moore.[97] The book follows Thanos' last chance to win Death's love after his defeat at the end of The Infinity Gauntlet.

Collected editions[edit]

A number of the stories featuring Thanos have been republished into trade paperbacks and other collected editions:

  • The Life of Captain Marvel (collects Iron Man #55, Captain Marvel #25-34, Marvel Feature #12), 1991, ISBN 0-87135-635-X
  • Essential Avengers: Volume 6 (includes Captain Marvel #33; The Avengers #125, 135), 576 pages, February 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3058-6
  • The Greatest Battles of the Avengers (includes Avengers Annual #7), 156 pages, December 1993, ISBN 0-87135-981-2
  • Avengers vs. Thanos (collects Iron-Man #55, Captain Marvel #25-33, Marvel Feature #12, Daredevil #105-107, Avengers #125, Warlock #9-11, 15, Avengers Annual #7, Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, and material from Logan's Run #6), 472 pages, March 2013, ISBN 0-7851-6850-8
  • Essential Marvel Two-in-One: Volume 2 (includes Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2), 568 pages, July 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2698-8
  • Marvel Masterworks Captain Marvel: Volume 3 (collects Captain Marvel #22–33, Iron Man #55), 288 pages, hardcover, April 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3015-2
  • Marvel Masterworks Captain Marvel: Volume 6 (collects Captain Marvel #58-62, Marvel Spotlight #1-4, 8, Marvel Super-Heroes #3, Marvel Graphic Novel #1; Logan's Run #63), 296 pages, hardcover, May 2016, ISBN 978-0785199946
  • Marvel Masterworks Warlock: Volume 2 (collects Strange Tales #178-181; Warlock #9–15; Avengers Annual #7; Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2), hardcover, 320 pages, hardcover, June 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3511-1
  • The Death of Captain Marvel (collects Captain Marvel #34, Marvel Spotlight #1–2, Marvel Graphic Novel #1), 128 pages, hardcover, June 2010, ISBN 0-7851-4627-X
  • Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos (collects Silver Surfer #34–38; The Thanos Quest miniseries; "The Final Flower!" from Logan's Run #6), 224 pages, April 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2046-7 (hardcover, August 2010, ISBN 0-7851-4478-1)
  • The Infinity Gauntlet (collects The Infinity Gauntlet limited series), 256 pages, March 2000, ISBN 0-87135-944-8 (December 2004, ISBN 0-7851-0892-0; July 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2349-0; hardcover, August 2010, ISBN 0-7851-4549-4)
  • Infinity War (collects Infinity War limited series; Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7–10; Marvel Comics Presents #108–111), 400 pages, April 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2105-6
  • Infinity Crusade:
    • Volume 1 (collects Infinity Crusade #1-3, Warlock Chronicles #1–3, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #18–19), 248 pages, December 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3127-2
    • Volume 2 (collects Infinity Crusade #4–6, Warlock Chronicles #4–5, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #20–22), 248 pages, February 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3128-0
  • Thor: Blood and Thunder (collects Thor #468–471, Silver Surfer #86–88, Warlock Chronicles #6–8, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #23–25), 336 pages, July 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-5094-7
  • DC versus Marvel Comics (collects DC vs. Marvel mini-series, Doctor Strangefate #1), 163 pages, September 1996, ISBN 1-56389-294-4
  • Ka-Zar by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert:
    • Volume 1 (collects Ka-Zar #1–7, Tales of the Marvel Universe #1), 208 pages, January 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-4353-6
    • Volume 2 (collects Ka-Zar #8–14, Annual '97), 216 pages, March 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-5992-6
  • Deadpool Classic: Volume 5 (collects Deadpool #26–33, Baby's First Deadpool, Deadpool Team-Up #1), 272 pages, June 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-5519-5
  • The Mighty Thor by Dan Jurgens and John Romita, Jr.: Volume 4 (collects Thor vol. 2, #18–25, Annual 2000), 256 pages, November 2010, ISBN 978-0-7851-4927-9
  • Infinity Abyss (collects Infinity Abyss limited series), 176 pages, 2003, ISBN 0-7851-0985-4
  • Thanos: The End (collects Marvel: The End limited series), 160 pages, May 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1116-6
  • Thanos: Redemption (collects Thanos #1-12), 304 pages, November 2013, ISBN 0-7851-8506-2
  • Annihilation:
    • Volume 1 (collects Drax the Destroyer miniseries, Annihilation: Prologue one-shot, Annihilation: Nova miniseries), 256 pages, October 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2901-4 (hardcover, March 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2511-6)
    • Volume 2 (collects Annihilation: Ronan miniseries, Annihilation: Silver Surfer miniseries, Annihilation: Super-Skrull miniseries), 320 pages, November 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2902-2 (hardcover, May 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2512-4)
    • Volume 3 (collects Annihilation: The Nova Corps Files one-shot/handbook, Annihilation limited series, Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus miniseries), 304 pages, December 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2903-0 (hardcover, July 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2513-2)
  • The Thanos Imperative (collects The Thanos Imperative #1–6, The Thanos Imperative: Ignition, The Thanos Imperative: Devastation, Thanos Sourcebook), 248 pages, hardcover, February 2011, ISBN 0-7851-5183-4
  • Infinity (collects Infinity #1-6, New Avengers vol. 3, #7-12, Avengers vol 5, #14-23, Infinity: Against the Tide Infinite Comic #1-2), 632 pages, hardcover, February 2014, ISBN 978-0785184225
  • Thanos Rising (collects Thanos Rising #1-5), 136 pages, hardcover, July 2014, ISBN 978-0785190479
  • Thanos: A God Up There Listening (collects Thanos: A God Up There Listening #1-4 and Thanos Annual #1), 120 pages, hardcover, December 2014, ISBN 978-0785191582
  • Thanos vs. Hulk (collects Thanos vs. Hulk #1-4, Warlock (1972) #12), 112 pages, June 2015, ISBN 978-0785197126
  • Thanos: Cosmic Powers (collects Secret Defenders #12-14, Cosmic Powers #1-6), 344 pages, November 2015, ISBN 978-0785198178
  • Deadpool vs. Thanos (collects Deadpool vs. Thanos #1-4), 112 pages, December 2015, ISBN 978-0785198451
  • The Infinity Gauntlet: Warzones! (collects The Infinity Gauntlet #1-5), 112 pages, December 2015, ISBN 978-0785198741
  • Siege: Battleworld (collects Siege #1-4, Uncanny X-Men (2011) #9-10), 144 pages, Februar 2016, ISBN 978-0785195498
  • Secret Wars (collects Secret Wars #1-9 and material from Secret Wars #0 FCBD), 312 pages, March 2016, ISBN 978-0785198840
  • The Infinity Entity (collects: The Infinity Entity #1-4, Thanos Annual #1), 116 pages, July 2016, ISBN 978-0785194217'
  • Thanos The Infinity Revelation, Jim Starlin, 2014, ISBN 978-0785184706
  • Thanos The Infinity Relativity, Jim Starlin, 2015, ISBN 978-0785193036
  • Thanos The Infinity Finale, Jim Starlin, 2016, ISBN 978-0785193050


Thanos was ranked number 47 on IGN's top 100 comic book villains of all time,[98] 22nd on Wizard's Top 100 Greatest Villains list,[citation needed] and number 21 on Complex's 25 Greatest Comic Book Villains List.[99]


  1. ^Thanos Vol. 2 #14
  2. ^"Jim Starlin". Adelaid Comics and Books. Archived via the Wayback Machine. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  3. ^Cronin, Brian (2010-06-24). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #266". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  4. ^Meylikhov, Matthew (2012-05-09). "The Big Bad of Avengers Assembled Revealed". 
  5. ^Marvel Cancels Thanos: Son of Titan miniseries,, 27 July 2012
  6. ^Sunu, Steve (16 January 2013). "Aaron and Bianchi Explore "Thanos Rising" in April". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  7. ^Thanos Annual #1, Inside Pulse, May 28, 2014 (accessed May 28, 2014)
  8. ^Jim Starlin Has an "Infinity Revelation" for Thanos, Comic Book Resources, January 3, 2014 (accessed May 28, 2014)
  9. ^""Thanos: The Infinity Relativity" OGN From Jim Starlin", Comic Book Resources, November 20, 2014 (accessed April 3, 2015)
  10. ^Richards, Dave (September 24, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: Jim Starlin Enters Adam Warlock's Mind In "Infinity Entity"". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2016. 
  11. ^Meylikhov, Matthew (May 30, 2014) "Thanos Joins the New Avengers in SeptemberArchived 2014-06-03 at the Wayback Machine.," Multiversity Comics (accessed June 19, 2014)
  12. ^Thanos Rising #1
  13. ^Thanos Rising #3, Iron Man vol 1 #55
  14. ^Thanos Rising #4-5
  15. ^ abAvengers Annual #7 (1977)
  16. ^Captain Marvel #30 (Jan. 1974)
  17. ^Captain Marvel #33 (July 1974)
  18. ^Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975)
  19. ^Warlock #9–11 (Oct. 1975 – Jan. 1976)
  20. ^Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977)
  21. ^Death of Captain Marvel (1982)
  22. ^Silver Surfer vol. 3, #34 (Feb. 1990)
  23. ^The Thanos Quest (1990)
  24. ^The Infinity Gauntlet #1 (July 1991)
  25. ^The Infinity Gauntlet #6 (Dec. 1991)
  26. ^The Infinity War #1–6 (1992)
  27. ^The Infinity Crusade #1–6 (1993)
  28. ^Thor #470–471 (Jan.–Feb. 1994); Silver Surfer vol. 3, #88 (Jan. 1994); Warlock Chronicles #8 (Feb. 1994); Warlock and the Infinity Watch #25 (Feb. 1994)
  29. ^Infinity Gauntlet: Aftermath, Marvel, 2013, back cover.
  30. ^Secret Defenders #11–14 (Jan.–April 1994)
  31. ^Cosmic Powers #1–6 (March–Aug. 1994)
  32. ^Ka-Zar vol. 2, #4–11 (Aug 1997 – March 1998), Annual 1997
  33. ^X-Man and Hulk Annual 1998
  34. ^Thor vol. 2, #21-25 (March–July 2000)
  35. ^Thor Annual (2000)
  36. ^Captain Marvel vol. 2, #17–19 (June–Aug. 2001)
  37. ^Avengers: Celestial Quest #1–8 (Nov. 2001 – June 2002)
  38. ^The Infinity Abyss #1–6 (2002)
  39. ^Marvel: The End #1-6 (May-Aug. 2003)
  40. ^"New Brevoort Formspring". 
  41. ^"New Brevoort Formspring". 
  42. ^Thanos #1–6(Dec. 2003 – April 2004)
  43. ^Thanos #7–9 (May 2004)
  44. ^Thanos #10-12 (July – Sept. 2004)
  45. ^GLX-Mas Special (December 2005)
  46. ^Annihilation #4 (Jan. 2007)
  47. ^Annihilation #6 (March 2007)
  48. ^Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, #24 (May 2010)
  49. ^
Thanos in Legendary Star-Lord #3 (Sept. 2014). Art by Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco.
Thanos in Ultimates vol. 2, #5 (May 2016). Art by Kenneth Rocafort.

This article is about the fictional superhero. For other uses, see Iron Man (disambiguation).

Iron Man

Iron Man in The Invincible Iron Man #25
(June 2010). Art by Salvador Larroca.

Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceTales of Suspense #39 (March 1963)
Created byStan Lee (writer)
Larry Lieber (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoAnthony Edward "Tony" Stark
Place of originEarth
Team affiliationsAvengers
Department of Defense
Force Works
New Avengers
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Mighty Avengers
Stark Industries
Stark Resilient
PartnershipsWar Machine
Iron Man
Cover of Iron Man #1 (May 1968); art by Gene Colan and Mike Esposito
Series publication information
FormatOngoing series
Publication date(vol. 1)
May 1968 – September 1996
(vol. 2)
November 1996 – November 1997
(vol. 3)
February 1998 – December 2004
(vol. 4)
January 2005 – January 2009
(Invincible Iron Man vol. 1)
July 2008 – February 2011
(vol. 1 cont.)
March 2011 – December 2012
(vol. 5)
January 2013 – August 2014
Number of issues(vol. 1): 332
(vol. 2): 13
(vol. 3): 89
(vol. 4): 35
(Invincible Iron Man)vol. 1: 33
(vol. 1 cont.): 29 (#500-527 plus #500.1)
(vol. 5): 29 (#1-28 plus #20.INH)
(Superior Iron Man) 9
(Invincible Iron Man)vol. 2: 14 (as of December 2016 cover date)
Creative team


  • (vol. 1)
    Archie Goodwin, David Michelinie, John Byrne, Len Kaminski, Terry Kavanagh
    (vol. 2)
    Scott Lobdell
    (vol. 3)
    Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern, Joe Quesada, Mike Grell, Frank Tieri
    (vol. 4)
    Warren Ellis, Charles Knauf
    (Invincible Iron Man)vol. 1
    Matt Fraction
    (vol. 5)
    Kieron Gillen


  • (vol. 1)
    Gene Colan, Johnny Craig, George Tuska, John Romita Jr., Bob Layton, Paul Ryan
    (vol. 2)
    Whilce Portacio, Ed Benes, Terry Shoemaker
    (vol. 3)
    Patrick Zircher, Sean Chen, Mike Grell
    (vol. 4)
    Adi Granov, Roberto De la Torre, Carlo Pagulayan
    (Invincible Iron Man)vol. 1
    Salvador Larroca
    (vol. 1 cont.)
    Salvador Larroca
    (vol. 5)
    Greg Land


  • (Invincible vol. 1, vol. 1 cont.)
    Frank D'Armata

Iron Man is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer and editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. The character made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (cover dated March 1963).

A wealthy American business magnate, playboy, and ingenious scientist, Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. Later, Stark augments his suit with weapons and other technological devices he designed through his company, Stark Industries. He uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man, while at first concealing his true identity. Initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and industry in the fight against communism.[1] Subsequent re-imaginings of Iron Man have transitioned from Cold War motifs to contemporary matters of the time.[1]

Throughout most of the character's publication history, Iron Man has been a founding member of the superhero team the Avengers and has been featured in several incarnations of his own various comic book series. Iron Man has been adapted for several animated TV shows and films. The character is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in the live action film Iron Man (2008), which was a critical and box office success. Downey, who received much acclaim for his performance, reprised the role in a cameo in The Incredible Hulk (2008), two Iron Man sequels Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013), The Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), and will do so again in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and its untitled sequel (2019) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Iron Man was ranked 12th on IGN's "Top 100 Comic Book Heroes" in 2011,[2] and third in their list of "The Top 50 Avengers" in 2012.[3]

Publication history[edit]

Further information: List of Iron Man titles


Iron Man's Marvel Comics premiere in Tales of Suspense #39 (cover dated March 1963) was a collaboration among editor and story-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, story-artist Don Heck, and cover-artist and character-designer Jack Kirby.[4] In 1963, Lee had been toying with the idea of a businessman superhero.[5] He wanted to create the "quintessential capitalist", a character that would go against the spirit of the times and Marvel's readership.[6] Lee said,

I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military....So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist....I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular.[7]

He set out to make the new character a wealthy, glamorous ladies' man, but one with a secret that would plague and torment him as well.[8] Writer Gerry Conway said, "Here you have this character, who on the outside is invulnerable, I mean, just can't be touched, but inside is a wounded figure. Stan made it very much an in-your-face wound, you know, his heart was broken, you know, literally broken. But there's a metaphor going on there. And that's, I think, what made that character interesting."[7] Lee based this playboy's looks and personality on Howard Hughes,[9] explaining, "Howard Hughes was 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."[10] "Without being crazy, he was Howard Hughes," Lee said.[7]

While Lee intended to write the story himself,[11] a minor deadline emergency eventually forced him to hand over the premiere issue to Lieber, who fleshed out the story.[8] The art was split between Kirby and Heck. "He designed the costume," Heck said of Kirby, "because he was doing the cover. The covers were always done first. But I created the look of the characters, like Tony Stark and his secretary Pepper Potts."[12] In a 1990 interview, when asked if he had "a specific model for Tony Stark and the other characters?", Heck replied "No, I would be thinking more along the lines of some characters I like, which would be the same kind of characters that Alex Toth liked, which was an Errol Flynn type."[13] Iron Man first appeared in 13- to 18-page stories in Tales of Suspense, which featured anthologyscience fiction and supernatural stories. The character's original costume was a bulky gray armored suit, replaced by a golden version in the second story (issue #40, April 1963). It was redesigned as sleeker, red-and-golden armor in issue #48 (Dec. 1963) by that issue's interior artist, Steve Ditko, although Kirby drew it on the cover. As Heck recalled in 1985, "[T]he second costume, the red and yellow one, was designed by Steve Ditko. I found it easier than drawing that bulky old thing. The earlier design, the robot-looking one, was more Kirbyish."[14]

In his premiere, Iron Man was an anti-communist hero, defeating various Vietnamese agents. Lee later regretted this early focus.[5][15] Throughout the character’s comic book series, technological advancement and national defense were constant themes for Iron Man, but later issues developed Stark into a more complex and vulnerable character as they depicted his battle with alcoholism (as in the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline) and other personal difficulties.

From issue #59 (Nov. 1964) to its final issue #99 (March 1968), the anthological science-fiction backup stories in Tales of Suspense were replaced by a feature starring the superhero Captain America. Lee and Heck introduced several adversaries for the character including the Mandarin in issue #50 (Feb. 1964),[16] the Black Widow in #52 (April 1964)[17] and Hawkeye five issues later.[18]

Lee said that "of all the comic books we published at Marvel, we got more fan mail for Iron Man from women, from females, than any other title....We didn't get much fan mail from girls, but whenever we did, the letter was usually addressed to Iron Man."[7]

Lee and Kirby included Iron Man in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) as a founding member of the superhero team. The character has since appeared in every subsequent volume of the series.

Writers have updated the war and locale in which Stark is injured. In the original 1963 story, it was the Vietnam War. In the 1990s, it was updated to be the first Gulf War,[19] and later updated again to be the war in Afghanistan. Stark's time with the Asian Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ho Yinsen is consistent through nearly all incarnations of the Iron Man origin, depicting Stark and Yinsen building the original armor together. One exception is the direct-to-DVD animated feature film The Invincible Iron Man, in which the armor Stark uses to escape his captors is not the first Iron Man suit.


The original Iron Man title explored Cold War themes, as did other Stan Lee projects in the early years of Marvel Comics. Where The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk respectively focused on American domestic and government responses to the Communist threat, Iron Man explored industry's role in the struggle. Tony Stark's real-life model, Howard Hughes, was a significant defense contractor who developed new weapons technologies. Hughes was an icon both of American individualism and of the burdens of fame.[20]

Historian Robert Genter, in The Journal of Popular Culture, writes that Tony Stark specifically presents an idealized portrait of the American inventor. Where earlier decades had seen important technological innovations come from famous individuals (e.g., Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright brothers), the 1960s saw new technologies (including weapons) being developed mainly by the research teams of corporations. As a result, little room remained for the inventor who wanted credit for, and creative and economic control over, his/her own creations.

Issues of entrepreneurial autonomy, government supervision of research, and ultimate loyalty figured prominently in early Iron Man stories — the same issues affecting American scientists and engineers of that era.[20] Tony Stark, writes Genter, is an inventor who finds motive in his emasculation as an autonomous creative individual. This blow is symbolized by his chest wound, inflicted at the moment he is forced to invent things for the purposes of others, instead of just himself. To Genter, Stark's transformation into Iron Man represents Stark's effort to reclaim his autonomy, and thus his manhood. The character's pursuit of women in bed or in battle, writes Genter, represents another aspect of this effort. The pattern finds parallels in other works of 1960s popular fiction by authors such as "Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond), Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), and Norman Mailer, who made unregulated sexuality a form of authenticity."[20]

First series[edit]

After issue #99 (March 1968), the Tales of Suspense series was renamed Captain America. An Iron Man story appeared in the one-shot comic Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (April 1968), before the "Golden Avenger"[21] made his solo debut with Iron Man #1 (May 1968).[22] The series' indicia gives its copyright title Iron Man, while the trademarked cover logo of most issues is The Invincible Iron Man. Artist George Tuska began a decade long association with the character with Iron Man #5 (Sept. 1968).[23] Writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin's brief collaboration on the Iron Man series introduced Mentor, Starfox, and Thanos in issue #55 (Feb. 1973).[24] Friedrich scripted a metafictional story in which Iron Man visited the San Diego Comic Convention and met several Marvel Comics writers and artists.[25] He then wrote the multi-issue "War of the Super-Villains" storyline which ran through 1975.[26][27][28][29][30]

Writer David Michelinie,[31] co-plotter/inker Bob Layton, and penciler John Romita Jr. became the creative team on the series with Iron Man #116 (Nov. 1978). Micheline and Layton established Tony Stark's alcoholism with the story "Demon in a Bottle", and introduced several supporting characters, including Stark's bodyguard girlfriend Bethany Cabe;[32] Stark's personal pilot and confidant James Rhodes, who later became the superhero War Machine;[33] and rival industrialist Justin Hammer,[34] who was revealed to be the employer of numerous high-tech armed enemies Iron Man fought over the years. The duo also introduced the concept of Stark's specialized armors[35][36][37] as he acquired a dangerous vendetta with Doctor Doom.[38][39] The team worked together through #154 (Jan. 1982), with Michelinie writing three issues without Layton.[31]

Following Michelinie and Layton's departures, Dennis O'Neil became the new writer of the series and had Stark relapse into alcoholism. Much of O'Neil's work on this plot thread was based on experiences with alcoholics he knew personally.[40] Jim Rhodes replaced Stark as Iron Man in issue #169 (April 1983) and wore the armor for the next two years of stories.[41] O'Neil returned Tony Stark to the Iron Man role in issue #200 (Nov. 1985).[42] Michelinie and Layton became the creative team once again in issue #215 (Feb. 1987).[31] They crafted the "Armor Wars" storyline beginning in #225 (Dec. 1987)[43] through #231 (June 1988). John Byrne and John Romita Jr. produced a sequel titled "Armor Wars II" in issues #258 (July 1990) to #266 (March 1991). The series had a crossover with the other Avengers related titles as part of the "Operation: Galactic Storm" storyline.[44][45]

Later volumes[edit]

This initial series ended with issue #332 (Sept. 1996). Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, and Jeph Loeb authored a second volume of the series which was drawn primarily by Whilce Portacio and Ryan Benjamin. This volume took place in a parallel universe[46] and ran 13 issues (Nov. 1996 - Nov. 1997).[47] Volume 3, whose first 25 issues were written by Kurt Busiek[48] and then by Busiek and Roger Stern, ran 89 issues (Feb. 1998 - Dec. 2004). Later writers included Joe Quesada, Frank Tieri, Mike Grell, and John Jackson Miller. Issue #41 (June 2001) was additionally numbered #386, reflecting the start of dual numbering starting from the premiere issue of volume one in 1968. The final issue was dual-numbered as #434.[49] The next Iron Man series, Iron Man vol. 4, debuted in early 2005 with the Warren Ellis-written storyline "Extremis", with artist Adi Granov.[50][51] It ran 35 issues (Jan. 2005 - Jan. 2009), with the cover logo simply Iron Man beginning with issue #13, and Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., beginning issue #15. On the final three issues, the cover logo was overwritten by "War Machine, Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.",[52] which led to the launch of a War Machine ongoing series.[53]

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 1, by writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca, began with a premiere issue cover-dated July 2008.[54] For a seven-month overlap, Marvel published both volume four and volume five simultaneously.[55] This Invincible volume jumped its numbering of issues from #33 to #500, cover dated March 2011, to reflect the start from the premiere issue of volume one in 1968.

After the conclusion of The Invincible Iron Man a new Iron Man series was started as a part of Marvel Now!. Written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Greg Land, it began with issue #1 in November 2012.[56] The series revealed Tony was adopted, and that he had a disabled half-brother named Arno.

Many Iron Man annuals, miniseries, and one-shot titles have been published through the years, such as Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man (Feb. 1996), Iron Man: The Iron Age #1-2 (Aug.–Sept. 1998), Iron Man: Bad Blood #1-4 (Sept.–Dec. 2000), Iron Man House of M #1-3 (Sept.–Nov. 2005), Fantastic Four / Iron Man: Big in Japan #1-4 (Dec. 2005–March 2006), Iron Man: The Inevitable #1-6 (Feb.–July 2006), Iron Man / Captain America: Casualties of War (Feb. 2007), Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1-6 (March–Aug. 2007), Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1-6 (Nov. 2007–April 2008), and Iron Man: Legacy of Doom (June–Sept. 2008). Publications have included such spin-offs as the one-shot Iron Man 2020 (June 1994), featuring a different Iron Man in the future, and the animated TV series adaptations Marvel Action Hour, Featuring Iron Man #1-8 (Nov. 1994–June 1995) and Marvel Adventures Iron Man #1-12 (July 2007–June 2008).[57]

Fictional character biography[edit]


Anthony Edward Stark, the son of wealthy industrialist and head of Stark Industries, Howard Stark, and Maria Stark. A boy genius, he enters MIT at the age of 15 to study electrical engineering and later receives master's degrees in electrical engineering and physics. After his parents are killed in a car accident, he inherits his father's company.

Stark is injured by a booby trap and captured by enemy forces led by Wong-Chu. Wong-Chu orders Stark to build weapons, but Stark's injuries are dire and shrapnel is moving towards his heart. His fellow prisoner, Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose work Stark had greatly admired during college, constructs a magnetic chest plate to keep the shrapnel from reaching Stark's heart. In secret, Stark and Yinsen use the workshop to design and construct a suit of powered armor, which Stark uses to escape. During the escape attempt, Yinsen sacrifices his life to save Stark's by distracting the enemy as Stark recharges. Stark takes revenge on his kidnappers and rejoins the American forces, on his way meeting a wounded American Marine fighter pilot, James "Rhodey" Rhodes.

Back home, Stark discovers that the shrapnel fragment lodged in his chest cannot be removed without killing him, and he is forced to wear the armor's chestplate beneath his clothes to act as a regulator for his heart. He must recharge the chestplate every day or else risk the shrapnel killing him. The cover story that Stark tells the news media and general public is that Iron Man is his robotic personal bodyguard, and corporate mascot. To that end, Iron Man fights threats to his company (e.g., Communist opponents Black Widow, the Crimson Dynamo, and the Titanium Man), as well as independent villains like the Mandarin (who becomes his greatest enemy). No one suspects Stark of being Iron Man, as he cultivates a strong public image of being a rich playboy and industrialist. Two notable members of the series' supporting cast, at this point, are his personal chauffeur Harold "Happy" Hogan, and secretary Virginia "Pepper" Potts—to both of whom he eventually reveals his dual identity. Meanwhile, James Rhodes finds his own niche as Stark's personal pilot, ultimately revealing himself to be a man of extraordinary skill and daring in his own right.

The series took an anti-Communist stance in its early years, which was softened as public (and therefore, presumably, reader) opposition rose to the Vietnam War.[5] This change evolved in a series of storylines featuring Stark reconsidering his political opinions, and the morality of manufacturing weapons for the U.S. military. Stark shows himself to be occasionally arrogant, and willing to act unethically in order to 'let the ends justify the means'.[58][59] This leads to personal conflicts with the people around him, both in his civilian and superhero identities. Stark uses his vast personal fortune not only to outfit his own armor, but also to develop weapons for S.H.I.E.L.D.; other technologies (e.g., Quinjets used by the Avengers); and the image inducers used by the X-Men. Eventually, Stark's heart condition is resolved with an artificial heart transplant.[60]

1970s and early 1980s[edit]

Stark expands on his armor designs and begins to build his arsenal of specialized armors for particular situations such as for space travel[35] and stealth.[36][37] Stark also develops a serious dependency on alcohol in the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline.[61] The first time it becomes a problem is when Stark discovers that the national security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. has been buying a controlling interest in his company in order to ensure Stark's continued weapons development for them. At the same time, it is revealed that several minor supervillains armed with advanced weapons who had bedeviled Stark throughout his superhero career are in fact in the employ of Stark's business rival, Justin Hammer who begins to plague Stark more directly.[62][63] At one point in Hammer's manipulations, the Iron Man armor is taken over and used to murder a diplomat.[63] Although Iron Man is not immediately under suspicion, Stark is forced to hand the armor over to the authorities.[64] Eventually Stark and Rhodes, who is now his personal pilot and confidant, track down and defeat those responsible, although Hammer would return to bedevil Stark again.[35][65] With the support of his then-girlfriend, Bethany Cabe, his friends and his employees, Stark pulls through these crises and overcomes his dependency on alcohol.[66] Even as he recovers from this harrowing personal trial, Stark's life is further complicated when he has a confrontation with Doctor Doom that is interrupted by an opportunistic enemy sending them back in time to the time of King Arthur.[38] Once there, Iron Man thwarts Doom's attempt to solicit the aid of Morgan Le Fay, and the Latverian ruler swears deadly vengeance—to be indulged sometime after the two return to their own time.[39] This incident was collected and published as Doomquest.

Some time later, a ruthless rival, Obadiah Stane, manipulates Stark emotionally into a serious relapse. As a result, Stark loses control of Stark International to Stane, becomes a homeless alcoholic vagrant and gives up his armored identity to Rhodes, who becomes the new Iron Man. Eventually, Stark recovers and joins a new startup, Circuits Maximus. Stark concentrates on new technological designs, including building a new set of armor as part of his recuperative therapy. Rhodes continues to act as Iron Man but steadily grows more aggressive and paranoid, due to the armor not having been calibrated properly for his use. Eventually Rhodes goes on a rampage, and Stark has to don a replica of his original armor to stop him. Fully recovered, Stark confronts Stane who has himself designed armor based on designs seized along with Stark International, dubbing himself the 'Iron Monger'. Defeated in battle, Stane, rather than give Stark the satisfaction of taking him to trial, commits suicide.[67] Shortly thereafter, Stark regains his personal fortune, but decides against repurchasing Stark International until much later; he instead creates Stark Enterprises, headquartered in Los Angeles.

Late 1980s and 1990s[edit]

In an attempt to stop other people from misusing his designs, Stark goes about disabling other armored heroes and villains who are using suits based on the Iron Man technology, the designs of which were stolen by his enemy Spymaster. His quest to destroy the stolen technology severely hurts his reputation as Iron Man. After attacking and disabling a series of minor villains such as Stilt-Man, he attacks and defeats the government operative known as Stingray. The situation worsens when Stark realizes that Stingray's armor does not incorporate any of his designs. He publicly "fires" Iron Man while covertly pursuing his agenda. He uses the cover story of wanting to help disable the rogue Iron Man to infiltrate and disable the armor of the S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives known as the Mandroids, and disabling the armor of the Guardsmen, in the process allowing some of the villains that they guard to escape. This leads the United States government to declare Iron Man a danger and an outlaw. Iron Man travels to Russia where he inadvertently causes the death of the Soviet Titanium Man during a fight. Returning to the U.S., he faces an enemy commissioned by the government named Firepower. Unable to defeat him head on, Stark fakes Iron Man's demise, intending to retire the suit permanently. When Firepower goes rogue, Stark creates a new suit, claiming a new person is in the armor.

Stark's health continues to deteriorate, and he discovers the armor's cybernetic interface is causing irreversible damage to his nervous system. His condition is aggravated by a failed attempt on his life by Kathy Dare, a mentally unbalanced former lover, which injures his spine, paralyzing him.[68] Stark has a nerve chip implanted into his spine to regain his mobility.[69] Stark's nervous system continues its slide towards failure, and he constructs a "skin" made up of artificial nerve circuitry to assist it. Stark begins to pilot a remote-controlled Iron Man armor, but when faced with the Masters of Silence, the telepresence suit proves inadequate. Stark designs a more heavily armed version of the suit to wear, the "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit", which becomes known as the War Machine armor. Ultimately, the damage to his nervous system becomes too extensive. Faking his death, Stark places himself in suspended animation to heal as Rhodes takes over both the running of Stark Enterprises and the mantle of Iron Man, although he uses the War Machine armor. Stark makes a full recovery by using a chip to reprogram himself and resumes the Iron Man identity. When Rhodes learns that Stark has manipulated his friends by faking his own death, he becomes enraged and the two friends part ways, Rhodes continuing as War Machine in a solo career.

The story arc "The Crossing" reveals Iron Man as a traitor among the Avengers' ranks, due to years of manipulation by the time-traveling dictator Kang the Conqueror. Stark, as a sleeper agent in Kang's thrall, kills Marilla, the nanny of Crystal and Quicksilver's daughter Luna, as well as Rita DeMara, the female Yellowjacket, then Amanda Chaney, an ally of the Avengers. The "Avengers Forever" limited series retcons these events as the work of a disguised Immortus, not Kang, and that the mental control had gone back only a few months.[70]

Needing help to defeat both Stark and Kang, the team travels back in time to recruit a teenaged Anthony Stark from an alternate timeline to assist them. The young Stark steals an Iron Man suit in order to aid the Avengers against his older self. The sight of his younger self shocks the older Stark enough for him to regain momentary control of his actions, and he sacrifices his life to stop Kang. The young Stark later builds his own suit to become the new Iron Man, and, remaining in the present day, gains legal control of "his" company.[volume & issue needed]

During the battle with the creature called Onslaught, the teenage Stark dies, along with many other superheroes. Franklin Richards preserves these "dead" heroes in the "Heroes Reborn" pocket universe, in which Stark is once again an adult hero; Franklin recreates the heroes in the pocket universe in the forms he is most familiar with rather than what they are at the present. The reborn adult Stark, upon returning to the normal Marvel Universe, merges with the original Stark, who had died during "The Crossing", but was resurrected by Franklin Richards. This new Anthony Stark possesses the memories of both the original and teenage Anthony Stark, and thus considers himself to be essentially both of them. With the aid of the law firm Nelson & Murdock, he regains his fortune and, with Stark Enterprises having been sold to the Fujikawa Corporation following Stark's death, sets up a new company, Stark Solutions. He returns from the pocket universe with a restored and healthy heart. After the Avengers reform, Stark demands a hearing be convened to look into his actions just prior to the Onslaught incident. Cleared of wrongdoing, he rejoins the Avengers.[volume & issue needed]


At one point, Stark's armor becomes sentient despite fail-safes to prevent its increasingly sophisticated computer systems from doing so. Initially, Stark welcomes this "living" armor for its improved tactical abilities. The armor begins to grow more aggressive, killing indiscriminately and eventually desiring to replace Stark altogether. In the final confrontation on a desert island, Stark suffers another heart attack. The armor sacrifices its own existence to save its creator's life, giving up essential components to give Stark a new, artificial heart. This new heart solves Stark's health problems, but it does not have an internal power supply, so Stark becomes once again dependent on periodic recharging. The sentient armor incident so disturbs Stark that he temporarily returns to using an unsophisticated early model version of his armor to avoid a repeat incident. He dabbles with using liquid metal circuitry known as S.K.I.N. that forms into a protective shell around his body, but eventually returns to more conventional hard metal armors.[volume & issue needed]

During this time, Stark engages in a romance with Rumiko Fujikawa,[71] a wealthy heiress and daughter of the man who had taken over his company during the "Heroes Reborn" period. Her relationship with Stark endures many highs and lows, including infidelity with Stark's rival, Tiberius Stone, in part because the fun-loving Rumiko believes that Stark is too serious and dull. Their relationship ends with Rumiko's death at the hands of an Iron Man impostor in Iron Man (vol. 3) #87.

In Iron Man (vol. 3) #55 (July 2002), Stark publicly reveals his dual identity as Iron Man, not realizing that by doing so, he has invalidated the agreements protecting his armor from government duplication, since those contracts state that the Iron Man armor would be used by an employee of Tony Stark, not by Stark himself. When he discovers that the United States military is again using his technology, and its defective nature nearly causes a disaster in Washington, D.C. which Iron Man barely manages to avert, Stark accepts a Presidential appointment as Secretary of Defense. In this way, he hopes to monitor and direct how his designs are used.[72]

In the "Avengers Disassembled" storyline, Stark is forced to resign after launching into a tirade against the Latverian ambassador at the United Nations, being manipulated by the mentally imbalanced Scarlet Witch, who destroys Avengers Mansion and kills several members. Stark publicly stands down as Iron Man, but continues using the costume. He joins the Avengers in stopping the breakout in progress from the Raft and even saves Captain America from falling.[73] Tony changes the Avengers base to Stark Tower.[74] The Ghost, the Living Laser and Spymaster reappear and shift Iron Man from standard superhero stories to dealing with politics and industrialism.[75]

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 (June 2006) reveals that years before, Stark had participated with a secret group that included the Black Panther, Professor X, Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, and Namor. The goal of the group (dubbed the Illuminati by Marvel) was to strategize overarching menaces, in which the Black Panther rejects a membership offer. Stark's goal is to create a governing body for all superheroes in the world, but the beliefs of its members instead force them all to share vital information.

"Civil War"[edit]

In the "Civil War" storyline, after the actions of inexperienced superheroes the New Warriors result in the destruction of several city blocks in Stamford, Connecticut, there is an outcry across America against super-humans. Learning of the Government's proposed plans, Tony Stark suggests a new plan to instigate a Superhuman Registration Act. The Act would force every super-powered individual in the U.S. to register their identity with the government and act as licensed agents. The Act would force inexperienced super-humans to receive training in how to use and control their abilities, something in which Tony strongly believes. Since his struggle with alcoholism, Stark has carried a tremendous burden of guilt after nearly killing an innocent bystander while piloting the armor drunk. While Reed Richards and Dr. Henry "Hank" Pym both agree with Stark's proposal, not everyone else does. After Captain America is ordered to bring in anyone who refuses to register, he and other anti-registration superheroes go rogue, coming into conflict with the pro-registration heroes, led by Iron Man. The war ends when Captain America surrenders to prevent further collateral damage and civilian casualties, although he had defeated Stark by defusing his armor. Stark is appointed the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.,[76] and organizes a new government-sanctioned group of Avengers. Shortly afterwards, Captain America is assassinated while in custody.[77] This leaves Stark with a great amount of guilt and misgivings about the cost of his victory.[78]

"Secret Invasion"[edit]

To tie into the 2008 Iron Man feature film, Marvel launched a new Iron Man ongoing series, The Invincible Iron Man, with writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca. The series inaugural six-part storyline was "The Five Nightmares", which saw Stark targeted by Ezekiel Stane, the son of Stark's former nemesis, Obadiah Stane.[79]

In the "Secret Invasion" storyline, after Tony Stark survives an attempt by Ultron to take over his body, he is confronted in the hospital by Spider-Woman, holding the corpse of a Skrull posing as Elektra. Realizing this is the start of an invasion by the Skrulls, Tony reveals the corpse to the Illuminati and declares that they are at war. After Black Bolt reveals himself as a Skrull and is killed by Namor, a squadron of Skrulls attack, forcing Tony to evacuate the other Illuminati members and destroy the area, killing all the Skrulls. Realizing that they are incapable of trusting each other, the members all separate to form individual plans for the oncoming invasion.[80]

Stark is discredited and publicly vilified after his inability to anticipate or prevent the secret infiltration and invasion of Earth by the Skrulls, and by the Skrull disabling of his StarkTech technology, which had a virtual monopoly on worldwide defense.[81] After the invasion, the U.S. government removes him as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and disbands the Avengers, handing control of the Initiative over to Norman Osborn.

"Dark Reign"[edit]

Main article: Dark Reign (comics)

See also: The Invincible Iron Man

With his Extremis powers failing, Stark uploads a virus to destroy all records of the Registration Act, thus preventing Osborn from learning the identities of his fellow heroes and anything that Osborn could use, including his repulsor generators. The only copy of the database is in Stark's brain, which he tries to delete while on the run from Osborn.[82] Stark goes so far as to inflict brain damage on himself in order to ensure that the relevant information is wiped. When Osborn catches up to the debilitated Stark and beats him savagely, Pepper Potts broadcasts the beatings worldwide, costing Osborn credibility and giving Stark public sympathy. Stark goes into a vegetative state, having previously granted Donald Blake (alter ego of the superhero Thor) power of attorney.[83] A holographic message stored in Pepper's armor reveals that Stark had developed a means of 'rebooting' his mind from his current state prior to his destruction of the database, with Blake and Bucky resolving to use it to restore him to normal. Meanwhile, Stark is trapped in his subconscious, where figments of his own mind prevent him from returning to the waking world. When the procedure fails to work, Bucky calls in Doctor Strange, who succeeds in restoring Stark back to consciousness. The backup Stark created was made prior to the Civil War, and as such he does not remember anything that took place during the event, although he still concludes after reviewing his past actions that he would not have done anything differently. His brain damage means he is now dependent on an arc reactor to sustain his body's autonomous functions.[84]



Main article: Siege (comics)

In the "Siege" storyline, Tony Stark is seen under the care of Dr. Donald Blake and Maria Hill when Asgard is attacked.[85]Thor is ambushed by Osborn and the Sentry, but rescued by Hill. Osborn declares martial law and unleashes Daken and the Sentry on Broxton to root out Thor and Hill. Hill returns to Stark's hiding place to move him to a safer location and are joined by Speed of the Young Avengers, who has a set of Iron Man's MK III armor that Edwin Jarvis had given Captain America. While Osborn is battling the New Avengers, Stark appears and disables Osborn's Iron Patriot armor. Osborn orders the Sentry to annihilate Asgard, rather than allow the Avengers to have it. After Asgard falls, Stark stands alongside his fellow heroes, as Osborn exclaims they are all doomed and he 'was saving them from him' pointing up towards a Void-possessed Sentry.[86] As the Void tears apart the teams, Loki gives them the power to fight back through the Norn Stones. The Void kills Loki, enraging Thor. Tony tells Thor to get the Void away from Asgard, which allows Tony to drop a commandeered H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier on the Void. Thor is forced to killed Sentry when the Void resurfaces. Sometime later, the Super-Human Registration Act is repealed and Tony is given back his company and armor. As a symbol for their heroics and their new unity, Thor places an Asgardian tower on Stark Tower where the Watchtower once stood.[87]

"Heroic Age"[edit]

Main article: Heroic Age (comics)

In the 2010-2011 "Stark: Resilient" storyline, Tony builds the Bleeding Edge armor with the help of Mister Fantastic. This new armor fully uses the repulsor tech battery embedded in his chest to power Tony's entire body and mind, thus allowing him access to Extremis once more. Furthermore, the battery operates as his "heart" and is predominantly the only thing keeping him alive.[88] Tony announces he will form a new company, Stark Resilient. He states that he will no longer develop weapons, but will use his repulsor technology to give free energy to the world. Justine and Sasha Hammer create their own armored hero, Detroit Steel, to take Stark's place as the Army's leading weapons-builder. Stark's plan consists of building two repulsor-powered cars. The Hammers try to foil his efforts. The first car is destroyed by sabotage, while Detroit Steel attacks Stark Resilient's facilities while Tony tests the second car. Through a legal maneuver, Tony is able to get the Hammers to stop their attacks and releases a successful commercial about his new car.[89][90]

"Fear Itself"[edit]

In the 2011 "Fear Itself" storyline, Earth is attacked by the Serpent, the God of Fear and the long-forgotten brother of Odin.[91] In Paris, Iron Man fights Grey Gargoyle, who has become Mokk, Breaker of Faith, one of the Serpent's Worthy. Mokk leaves Iron Man unconscious and transforms Detroit Steel and the citizens of Paris into stone.[92][93] To defeat the Serpent's army, Tony drinks a bottle of wine (thus 'sacrificing' his sobriety) to gain an audience with Odin, who allows Tony to enter the realm of Svartalfheim. Tony and the dwarves of Svartalfheim build enchanted weapons.[94] Tony upgrades his armor with uru-infused enchantments and delivers the finished weapons to the Avengers, who use them for the final battle against the Serpent's forces. Iron Man watches as Thor kills the Serpent, but dies in the process. After the battle is over, Tony melts down the weapons he created and repairs Captain America's shield, which had been broken by Serpent, and gives it back to Captain America.[95] During a subsequent argument with Odin about the gods' lack of involvement in the recent crisis, Odin gives Tony a brief opportunity to see the vastness of the universe the way he sees it. As thanks for Tony's role in the recent crisis, Odin restores all the people that the Grey Gargoyle killed during his rampage.[96]

Return of the Mandarin and Marvel NOW![edit]

In the storylines "Demon" and "The Long Way Down", Stark is subpoenaed by the U.S. government after evidence surfaces of him using the Iron Man armor while under the influence. Mandarin and Zeke Stane upgrade some of Iron Man's old enemies and send them to commit acts of terrorism across the world, intending to discredit Iron Man. General Bruce Babbage forces Stark to wear a tech governor, a device that allows Babbage to deactivate Stark's armor whenever he wants. To fight back, Tony undergoes a surgical procedure that expels the Bleeding Edge technology out of his body and replaces his repulsor node with a new model, forcing Babbage to remove the tech governor off his chest. He announces his retirement as Iron Man, faking Rhodes' death and giving him a new armor so that he becomes the new Iron Man.[97] This leads into the next storyline, "The Future", in which the Mandarin takes control of Stark's mind and uses him to create new armored bodies for the alien spirits inhabiting his rings, but Stark allies himself with some of his old enemies, who have also been imprisoned by Mandarin, and manages to defeat him. The final issue of this storyline concluded Matt Fraction's series.[98]

In the ongoing series that premiered in 2012 as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, Tony Stark has hit a technological ceiling. After the death of Dr. Maya Hansen and the destruction of all of the Extremis Version 2 kits that were being sold to the black market, Tony decides that the Earth is not safe without him learning more from what's in the final frontier. He takes his new suit, enhanced with an artificial intelligence named P.E.P.P.E.R. and joins Peter Quill and The Guardians of the Galaxy after helping them thwart a Badoon attack on Earth.[99]

Superior Iron Man[edit]

Tony Stark's personality is inverted during the events of AXIS, bringing out more dark aspects of himself like irresponsibility, egotism and alcoholism.[100] Stark relocates to San Francisco and builds a new, all-white armor. He supplies the citizens of San Francisco with the Extremis 3.0 app, a version of the techno-virus that offers beauty, health or even immortality, free.[101] When every person in the city viewed Iron Man as a messiah for making their dreams come true, he ended the free trial mode and started charging a daily fee of $99.99, causing many to resort to crime as way to pay for the upgrade.[102]Daredevil confronts Stark at his new Alcatraz Island penthouse, but is easily brushed off.[103] Iron Man uses Extremis 3.0 to temporarily restore Daredevil's sight, just to prove his point.[104] Daredevil deduces that Stark had added Extremis to the water supply and the phones only transmit an activation signal, but Stark subjects Murdock to minor brain damage to prevent him from sharing this revelation with others.[105]

After discovering that new villain Teen Abomination is the son of Happy Hogan, Stark decides to help him,[106] but this minor act of redemption is too late for Pepper Potts, who attacks Stark with the aid of an A.I. based on Stark's mind.[107] This culminates in a confrontation between the two Starks, as Stark calls on the unwitting aid of all 'infected' with the Extremis upgrade while the A.I. uses Stark's various old armors to attack him.[108] Although Stark technically wins the battle as he destroys his other armors and deletes the A.I. backup, Pepper states that she plans to reveal the truth about his goals with Extremis, bluntly informing him that if he continues his Extremis upgrade project, he will have to do it alone, accepting his fate of being regarded as a monster by all who know him.[109]

Time Runs Out[edit]

During the "Time Runs Out" storyline, an attempt at reclaiming Wakanda from the Cabal that Namor had created to destroy incursive Earths results in Tony being held captive in the Necropolis.[110] After the Cabal are apparently killed, the Illuminati free Tony, who is forced to flee due to the Illuminati's unwillingness to let Stark be there with them when they meet Rogers and the Avengers. When the Shi'ar and their allies arrive to destroy Earth, the Avengers and the Illuminati unsuccessfully try to retaliate. Iron Man uses Sol's Hammer to destroy the fleet.[111] The incursions continue, and Rogers confronts Stark about what he knows. A fight ensues between them and Stark admits that he had lied and had known about the incursions all along. During the final incursion, Earth-1610's S.H.I.E.L.D. launches a full-scale attack on Earth-616, during which Stark and Rogers are crushed by a Helicarrier.[112]

All-New, All-Different Marvel[edit]

After the events of the Secret Wars

Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963): Iron Man debuts. Cover art by Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

Tales of Suspense #48 (Dec. 1963), the debut of Iron Man's first red-and-gold suit of armor. Cover art by Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky.

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