Iron Man: Insider Interview
Robert Downey Jr.’s slick take on Tony Stark, introduced to the silver screen in 2008, returns in this month’s Iron Man 3. But don’t think that the original Iron Man, who turns 50 this year, is showing any signs of rust. The Marvel superhero, first seen in a March 1963 issue of Tales of Suspense, is busier than ever with his own eponymous comic-book series. He’s also taking an extended leave from the Avengers to join Guardians of the Galaxy, an intergalactic superhero team. Axel Alonso, Marvel editor in chief, tells Discover Associate Editor Gemma Tarlach that Iron Man has no plans for early retirement.
Why does Iron Man remain so popular, 50 years after his debut?
Iron Man is unique. If there’s a more flawed superhero, I’ve yet to find one. Tony Stark’s hubris fuels him, his vices almost undo him, yet he perseveres because of his winning combination of brains and heart. And remember: Tony Stark is a self-made superhero; he was never endowed with any superpowers by an outside source. He put that big brain of his to work and made himself into a superhero.
How does Marvel keep its superheroes current with technology and cultural trends without changing a character’s appeal?
If you stay true to the core values of the character — the stuff that doesn’t blow in the winds of change — you’ll stay on course. Tony is a forward-thinking dude who sees what’s on the horizon, both in terms of new technology and cultural trends, but he’s not the type to don them like the latest pair of sneakers. He has values that he’ll always stand for, and flaws that he’ll always contend with.
Do superheroes age? Should they?
A superhero’s story — his journey — is never over. He should reflect the times and evolve as a product of his life experience, but never stop discovering new stuff about the world or himself. Because that’s when he becomes static. That’s when he’s truly old. It’s not about graying temples; it’s about a mind-set.
What can we expect from Iron Man in the next 50 years?
Expect Tony to be the guy who always thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, and to probably be right.