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YMMV / Iron Man

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See Iron Man Films for the films.

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YMMVs for the Comics:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: So much of this exists for Tony.
    • Hero or as much of a villain as a number of people he fights?
    • AXIS proposes that Tony Stark is and has always been a sociopath, even without the titular event throwing the morality of a good quarter of the characters off kilter. This viewpoint is pretty much untouched anywhere else bar where the 'Superior Iron Man' is present as a result of said event.
  • Author's Saving Throw: When Marvel did a sequel Civil War story to capitalize on the MCU film based on the original, Tony was made the leader of the pro-freedom side.
  • Awesome Ego: Tony Stark.
  • Broken Base:
    • The less said of his horrendous portrayal in Civil War, the better.
    • Kieron Gillen's run. The first arc was generally well liked, while the second arc, while mostly liked, irked some of the fans who sided with the Avengers during Avengers vs. X-Men due to the way it treats Tony's attack on the Phoenix. The arcs following, however, for retconning Tony's dad meeting aliens who may be responsible for Tony's intelligence, broke the base even further. One party found the story interesting, the other felt the idea robbed Tony of his independence by establishing he was predisposed from birth to make his armor. The ending and subsequent arc where its revealed that he wasn't the child 451 altered, and is instead Howard Stark's adopted son, and has a secret brother named Arno, is similarly split between those who're still enjoying the run, those who were unsure about the previous story arc but are happy about this revelation and subsequent possible stories, and those who just hate the changes going on and refuse to read.
    • Superior Iron Man. Some people loved it and thought it was awesome, other people couldn't stand it.
    • Brian Michael Bendis' run, which is naturally the case due to Bendis' controversial reputation among Marvel fans. The fact it leads into a particularly controversial event that lead to a company-wide Dork Age probably doesn't help, though some felt that Tony's book was one of the better parts. An especially major factor was introducing Riri Williams, not to mention expanding on the already-controversial Gillen plot point about Tony being adopted and the 'mystery' of who his birth parents are.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Wong Chu started off as Iron Man's first major villain but later became something worse. In the original version of Iron Man's origin, Wong Chu was an Asian warlord who ran a P.O.W. Camp. After Tony Stark was injured while visiting a war zone, Wong Chu captured him and brought him to his camp, so that Stark could make weapons for him. Stark instead made the Iron Man armor, not before Wong Chu's men killed Yinsen, the kindly scientist who helped Stark create the armor. Wong Chu was about to order his men to kill all the prisoners in the camp, but he was seemingly killed during a battle with Iron Man. Wong Chu managed to survive and reappeared in in 2000's "The Sons of Yinsen" storyline. Deciding to become a drug lord, he opened a more brutal camp in a remote Asian jungle and kidnapped villagers to work as slaves and produce narcotics for him. The Sons of Yinsen, a group that revered the original Yinsen, informed Stark of Wong Chu's camp. Iron Man and his allies attack the camp, discovering that Wong Chu also uses children as slaves. When Iron Man and his allies confront Wong Chu, Wong Chu is sitting on a throne made of human skulls. Wong Chu threatens to murder two dozen slaves if Iron Man and his allies don't surrender. When they do surrender, Wong Chu executes them anyway, then tortures Stark and his allies, before planning to execute them, taking them to a pit filled with thousands of corpses of murdered slaves.
    • Obadiah Stane, AKA Iron Monger I, after seeing his father shoot himself during a game of Russian Roulette, reached two conclusions: that life was a game you had to win at, no matter the cost, and that his father was a weakling who left too much to chance. During a childhood chess match, when paired against a boy who was his equal or better, Stane slit the boy's pet dog's throat to make sure his mind wasn't on the game. Becoming a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Stane defeated Tony Stark in a corporate buyout, and engineered his psychological breakdown, reducing Tony to living on the streets as a homeless, alcoholic vagrant. When Tony returned as Iron Man, Stane wasted no time in kidnapping his friends and loved ones, going so far as to try and brainwash one of Tony's former girlfriends into becoming his lover, not out of interest, but to drive in the fact that he had won; he then set off a bomb at the Circuit Dome to kill Tony with no compunction about collateral damage. When Tony arrived to confront him, Stane revealed he'd set up a chamber with Tony's loved ones subject to receiving electric shocks should he take a step to free them, intending to force Tony to starve to death in the room. When Tony beat Stane's game, Stane played his last trump card: Tony would surrender or Stane would use his own suit to crush a baby's skull. Once beaten, Stane opted to hurt Tony and deny him victory the only way he could: suicide.
  • Creepy Awesome: Ghost. Sometimes overlaps with Crazy Awesome.
  • Dork Age: Civil War and the aftermath. See Strawman Political, below. Before Civil War, there was his Face–Heel Turn during the terrible "Crossing" storyline that led into Teen Tony and Heroes Reborn. Thankfully, much of that was retconned out in Avengers Forever.
    • The Iron Nose. It was hated so much that the comic had fans at a convention wearing armor replicas without the nose and telling Tony Stark how hideous it looked.
    • Riri Williams taking over as the lead character, under the moniker of Ironheart, while Tony is in a coma. Crosses into Broken Base as quite a few liked Riri, but it's hard not to argue it was an odd direction to take, not helped by the fact it was set-up by Civil War II, a story almost as infamously controversial as the first one.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Maria Hill gained a number of fans during the post Secret Invasion storylines, possibly due to Matt Fraction being the first writer to develop her outside of a role as a person to be an enemy for the Avengers.
    • The Stark Seven, a team Tony's dad formed to perform a heist on an alien-ran casino back before Tony was born, and featured in a single story arc in Kieron Gillen's run. Fans were asking for a miniseries about the group once they appeared, and some are still waiting.
      • One of them, the woman called "The Bear", did reappear in Al Ewing's run on Mighty Avengers, which explained her backstory... and how she could reappear in the modern day when the flashback showed her being blown up.
    • Amongst the Rogues Gallery there's Ghost, Blizzard, and Madame Masque.
    • Iron Monger/Obadiah Stane. He has been dead for decades now, but he was the centerpiece of such a major story arc that fans will always remember him as one of Tony's greatest foes.
    • Thanks to how much Tony's supporting cast changes with each new run and the importance of different figures within it, during the long-stints where they are not regular parts of his life James Rhodes and Pepper Potts qualify whenever they do show up.
  • Epileptic Trees: Immediately following Civil War, Tony is fighting Mole Man creatures with his Avengers team when, all of a sudden, Ultron reveals it has invaded his biology and transforms Tony into a copy of the Wasp. Considering Tony's biggest crime during Civil War was building a cyborg with the power of Thor (as well as locking up heroes and building a giant ersatz Masters of Evil which Ultron used to lead), it's not so hard to just assume that a lot of Tony's immoral actions were the product of Ultron inside of him, influencing his actions.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Tales of Suspense #45. The first handful of issues were pure silver age, starring a Bruce Wayne expy who battles such goofy threats as a Neanderthal robot caveman (sent by aliens, naturally) or casually uses magic to venture back in time and romance Cleopatra. But #45 turned the focus squarely towards Tony Stark as both a wounded man with a debilitating chest injury and a genius inventor during the Cold War who struggles to stop the misappropriation of his technology, as well as introduced major supporting characters Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts to give him more of a plotline when out of costume. The run of issues that follow would also introduce Marvel mainstays the Mandarin, Crimson Dynamo, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, as well as Iron Man's now-standard red-and-gold armor.
    • Iron Man was not as big a hit early on as some of his contemporaries and started to really develop into a fully realized character when David Michelinie and Bob Layton took over writing duties with the character defining Demon in a Bottle arc. They'd do it again during their second run with Armor Wars.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: During the "Armor Wars" storyline (written in 1987), Tony is forced to "fire" Iron Man as Stark Enterprises' spokesman. Trying to find a new and trustworthy face, one employee asks "I wonder if Bill Cosby is available..."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In issue 9 of Marvel Team Up, Spider-Man referred Iron Man as Sherlock Holmes. Guess who plays both Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes in the movies?
  • Ho Yay: Piles, both with War Machine in the Iron Man books, and Steve Rogers in The Avengers.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Stan Lee has stated that this was his original intention in the creation of Tony Stark. He wanted to create a character who was a bit of a bastard for his war-profiteering, womanizing, and fast lifestyle but was also pitied (especially by women) for his insecurities due to his injury and the knowledge that what he was making was killing people.
    • Madame Masque. She may be a supervillain, but she's legitimately mentally ill and keeps being evil mainly because she thinks everyone she cares about betrayed her.
    • Living Laser, though the Jerkass part far outweighs the Woobie part. Still, being a being of living energy that constantly risks dissipating into nothing can't be doing good for his mental state.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Iron Man's archenemy, The Mandarin, is his mental and physical superior, and one of the few people who Tony Stark genuinely fears. With looted alien technology at his disposal, and a worldwide network of agents prepared to do his bidding, Mandarin has nearly brought down both the American and Chinese governments, requiring Iron Man to ally with the Chinese Communist leadership and its super teams in order to stop him. Infiltrating SHIELD during the "Extermis" storyline and Iron Man's own mind during "The Long Way Down" and "The Future" Mandarin has a proven ability to turn up in places he should not, and deal incalculable damage while there.
  • Memetic Mutation: A BLOO BLOO BLOO note 
  • Moral Event Horizon: A fair few readers are convinced Tony himself came precariously close to this line in the much-maligned Civil War: Front Line, in which it's revealed that one of the ideas he had for uniting the warring superhumans was to stage a False Flag Operation to bait Atlantis into going to war with the U.S., a threat which all the heroes would have to team up against. Stark is saved from the pit by the fact that the idea remains precisely that, an idea, but had he actually gone and done it, there's little doubt most fans and quite possibly many writers would've considered him an unrepentant villain. What's worse is that the writer, Paul Jenkins (who has since become one of the most despised men at Marvel) seemed to be arguing that this was a logical thing to do!
    • Tony and Reed cloning Thor. Particularly as Tony was close friends with Thor, and Tony was in possession of the hair used to clone Thor since they met.
    • Sasha Hammer hits this during Iron Man's Fear Itself tie-in: not only she blows off the main pilot of her Detroit Steel fleet be turned to stone by Mokk (Grey Gargoyle), she also goes on to leave Rescue (Pepper) to fight him alone while trying to make herself look good. And when he's got Pepper in his clutches and is ready to deal the killing blow, she simply... retreats.
  • My Real Daddy:
    • David Michelinie and Bob Layton in the early 1980s transformed the character with such innovations such as his specialized armors and his drinking problem.
    • Of course, in The New '10s, many consider the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation of the character as directed and portrayed by Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. respectively to be his latest parents. Downey's humorous Eccentric Millionaire big kid approach to the character brought a great deal of levity to a character who had usually been on the serious side, and likewise elevated Tony's profile with the mainstream to be one of Marvel's flagship characters alongside icons like Spider-Man and the X-Men, with Tony's later comic versions being based on Downey's appearance.
  • Never Live It Down: Tony's alcoholism, although his actions in Civil War are catching up in their effect on his reputation.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Near the conclusion of the Extremis story arc, Tony battled the bio-super-soldier Mallen for the second time... and this time, he won. Unfortunately, Mallen made it abundantly clear that only death would stop him... and after Iron Man has blasted a fist-sized hole through his chest and he just keeps trying to choke Tony through the armor, he repulsors Mallen's head off. And then, for a moment, Mallen's decapitated body tries to get up again.
    • During Fear Itself, Iron Man deployed to Paris, France, to take on the Grey Gargoyle, who was possessed by the spirit of Mokk, one of the generals of the Big Bad. There, he discovers that all people in the city have been turned to stone. During his battle with Mokk, he gets knocked out, and comes to in a giant pile of broken statues - oops, make that a giant pile of petrified corpses.
    • Issue 255 - Freak Quincy, after accidentally swapping Iron Man's and Crimson Dynamo's minds, getting his arms blasted off by Iron Man's pulse bolts, due to Dynamo's unfamiliarity with Iron Man's weapons systems. Quincy somehow managed to survive long enough to facilitate a reversal of the swap.
  • Nightmare Retardant: In Tony Stark: Iron Man, Tony struggles with the idea that, since he cheated death by growing a clone of his body and downloading his consciousness into it, there's a distinct possibility that he isn't the true Tony Stark, just a copy. After all, he doesn't share a single cell with the pre-death Tony. This would be somewhat compelling... except the human body does the same thing naturally. Because of constant cell death and replication, your present-day body does not share a single cell with the you from, say, five or ten years ago. Fantastical, roundabout way of it aside, Tony is absolutely the original and is kind of being an idiot.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • As discussed in the Strawman Political section, they could have had an interesting plot in which Tony is forced to go to more and more extreme measures to enforce an act that would hold responsibility over all other things, something he believes in due to his own shortcomings. Instead, they decided in some books to turn Tony into a power hungry fascist and decided accountability = slavery. Also he's a war criminal now. Apparently believing in responsibility is akin to amorality.
    • Crosses into They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character, but the general concept of Riri Williams is not a bad idea, Tony having a teenage protege who ends up becoming something of a Legacy Character for him when he's taken out of action. However, Riri was introduced rather awkwardly mere issues before it was announced she was going to take over, before she even met Tony, which naturally created an Audience-Alienating Premise, so there was really no way to develop and explore the idea of her as Tony's protege and successor in a convincing, acceptable manner.
  • Too Cool to Live: A lot of Tony's armors, especially in the '90s to present day, rarely gets fair shakes, some of them lasting no more than a year or two before they're unceremoniously cast aside for the newest-designed armor. For instance, the famous "Modular Armor", while well known for being in the 1994 cartoon and being used throughout the early Marvel vs. Capcom era, actually only lasted a year and a half in the comics.
  • What Could Have Been: Iron Man 258.1-258.4, also known as Iron Man: Armored Vengeance in trade paperback format, reunited David Michelinie and Bob Layton to tell a non-canon story based on Layton's original Armor Wars II plot that didn't see the light of day due to John Byrne taking over the comic and running his own oddly named Armor Wars II. While a fan favorite in its own right, Byrne's version had nothing to do with the original Armor Wars.

     1994 TV Show 

YMMVs for the 1994 Television Series:

  • Adaptation Displacement: In the cartoon, the Mandarin kidnapped both Tony Stark and Yinsen. Years later, in The Invincible Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Mandarin (indirectly) is involved with their kidnapping, which led to the creation of Iron Man.
  • Complete Monster: "Distant Boundaries": One-shot villain Dark Aegis outstripped any other villain in sheer monstrosity. A foe of Tony Stark, Dark Aegis hijacked one of Tony's satellites designed to destroy asteroids and intended to turn its firepower upon the Earth. Tony managed to stop him and launched Dark Aegis into the depths of space, with him eventually landing on the planet Elysian. Drunk with his immense power and declaring himself a god, Dark Aegis nuked the planet and slaughtered its inhabitants for being "grotesquely less than human". Promising Titanium Man upgraded weapons in exchange for luring Iron Man to the planet, Dark Aegis tried to convince Tony to join him, promising him godhood in the process. Dark Aegis demonstrated his power by destroying two of Elysian's moons and requested Tony's help in destroying the planet's dual-suns. Titanium Man ended up helping Stark and Rhodes fight Dark Aegis and later gave his life to stop him for good, as Titanium Man found that no weapon was worth the price of letting Dark Aegis live.
  • Growing the Beard: Season two is generally agreed to be an improvement over the first season due to being more serious in tone and more faithful to the original comics.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "The Grim Reaper Wears A Teflon Coat", Tony shows a simulation of his Grim Reaper fighter jet attacking New York, complete with it blowing up the World Trade Center. Later in the same episode, the Mandarin plans to use the Grim Reaper to blow up the Pentagon and demonstrates by having a model of the plane crash into a scale replica of the building.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The events of the two-part series finale. The Mandarin's anti-technology mist temporarily covers New York, shutting off anything that requires electricity to work, with the same thing later happening to Hong Kong. The viewer isn't really shown the extent of the damage caused by the mist, but such an attack likely would've resulted in many deaths, as hospitals and traffic lights would've been without power. And that's not even getting into what would've happened to any airplanes or helicopters unlucky enough to have been flying over the cities when the mist was released...
  • Misaimed Marketing: The DVD release for the series mentions "Whiplash" on the back, probably to cash-in on Iron Man 2. Granted, Blacklash/Whiplash did appear on the show, but anyone expecting the Magnificent Bastard that is Ivan Vanko will be disappointed because not only is Mark Scarlotti not the Big Bad, but he's one of the Mandarin's many lackeys.
  • Stock Footage Failure: The scene where the Bruce Banner Hulks out in "Hulk Buster" was actually recycled from the character's prior guest appearance in the Fantastic Four animated series. This is why Banner's outfit suddenly changes with no explanation, as well as why the Hulk's design looks drastically different (especially his hairstyle).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Hypnotia, despite clearly being one of the only competent henchmen the Mandarin has coupled with a snarky sense of humor as well as her interest in Tony Stark while Dreadknight and Blacklash pine for her, was not fully utilized as a character. She in fact disappeared for most of the original episodes of the first season, even though she was the first of the main cast to actually appear in the first episode.

  • WTH, Casting Agency?: This is Adrian Pasdar's first outing as Iron Man, but like every other time he's voiced Tony Stark, many fans found him to be a bad fit for Tony.


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