Tony Stark Is Lying About Why He Built Iron Man

This article contains spoilers for Iron Man #23

Marvel’s Iron Man is lying to himself about why he built his iconic suit of armor, and he’ll never change until he admits his selfish actions. Tony Stark is one of most flawed characters in the Marvel Universe, possessing classic traits of a narcissist, hedonist and those with substance abuse disorders. Iron Man #23 admits this and more, essentially telling readers that Tony Stark has forgotten his own origin story.

In current comics continuity, Iron Man and his friend War Machine wage a desperate, underground battle against the weapons dealer Source Control. Their weapons could decimate and utterly destroy entire countries, and Tony is interested in the proverbial crown jewel: the Ten Rings of the Mandarin. Tony thus spends over 60 billion of his own money to ingratiate himself to Source Control, posing as an anonymous buyer of exotic weapons. His ultimate plan is to buy the Ten Rings and leave without complications – but dealing with Source Control carries incredible risks.


In Iron Man #23, written by Christopher Cantwell with art by Angel Unzueta, the latest scheme to buy weapons from Source Control has gone horribly wrong; one of Tony’s inside men was sent backwards through time via a time-displacement handgun, and he has lost another piece on the board. Tony reminisces about his origins and the purpose of the Iron Man armor. “Iron Man was built to disarm those who would seek to weaponize against others for power,” he thinks to himself as he tracks down his latest lead on the Ten Rings. “I built myself to stop them.” Unfortunately, Iron Man is lying to both himself and the reader; he was hardly that altruistic when he crafted his first suit.

Tony Stark working on Source Control

Stark’s origin is well-known by both readers of Iron Man and characters within the world of the comics: he crafted a makeshift suit to escape captivity in the fictional nation of Sin-Cong (Afghanistan in the MCU and occasionally in retellings of the comic book story). Additionally, the armored chestplate powered the electromagnet (the famous arc reactor in the films) that prevented deadly shrapnel from reaching his heart; thus, both the suit and the electromagnet were designed with the sole purpose of keeping Stark alive. The Iron Man armor was never designed or built to save the world; it was repurposed, and that makes all the difference.

In Tony Stark’s mind, he has always been the Avenger and hero, but that is quite a departure from reality. Tony Stark is forgetting his selfish roots, and while one must change to move forward in life, they mustn’t forget their point of origin (or their morally-bankrupt arms-dealing days). Iron Man can’t change without remembering who he once was – but at the same time, he cannot wallow in self-pity at the expense of his future.

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