There are a lot of heroes in the Marvel Pantheon, with a variety of superpowers. Some, like the Hulk and Thor, have strength so great they can demolish large vehicles with their bare hands. Not to mention that cool hammer of Thor’s. Others, like Spiderman, while not quite as strong, are still physically gifted to an extreme. Some, like the Human Torch, are so powerful that they have to tone back their powers some, lest the neighborhood and the people in it pay the price through incineration. But most of the Superheroes in the Marvel Universe fall into two categories. Those who gained their abilities by accident, and those who were born with them.
All of the mutants in the Marvel Pantheon were born with their abilities. The X-men, Wolverine, the evil mutants all came by their powers because of a genetic aberration. Some, like Wolverine, may have acquired other abilities like the adamantium skeleton, but the base powers were theirs by right of birth. Thor, Hercules and the other immortal heroes were also born with their abilities as members of other species. So was the Submariner. The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and Spiderman acquired their abilities due to circumstances beyond their control, i.e. accidents. Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma radiation that released the beast within, while Reed Richards and company caught their abilities from cosmic rays, and Peter Parker was bitten by the famous radioactive spider (updated to genetically engineered super spider). There are some Marvel heroes that developed their abilities through science and training, such as Captain America, Hawkeye, Giantman and Wasp. Giantman is a very powerful character, but kind of a peripheral one. Cap is very good at what he does with his limited abilities, while Hawkeye is merely a superbly trained archer. Which brings us to a very powerful Marvel character that developed his own abilities, namely the star of this essay, Tony Stark.
Tony Stark is an interesting character in his own right, even without his armored suit. A genius billionaire playboy, he would seem to have no reason to put his life on the line to become a superhero. Stark not only had no powers, accidental or born, he developed his super suit because he wanted to be able to right the wrongs he saw around him, some that were the result of the business as usual attitude of his own company. So Tony Stark used his genius to develop a super suit, powered armor if you will, that made him the equal of most of the other superheroes, and superior too many. And the suit gives him some advantages that can’t be matched by some of the other powerful Marvel characters. It is constantly being upgraded, making its wearer more and more powerful. And it can be configured for different roles that Iron Man might find himself in. The other heroes are kind of caught in the limits of whatever abilities they have, even if they are massively powerful, such as the Hulk and Thor.
But the greatest attribute of Tony Stark the man, and not just the Iron Man, is that he loves what he does. This has become even more apparent from the movies. Iron Man likes to play to loud music, to wise crack, while putting his life on the line. The only traditional Marvel hero who waxes comedic as much is Spiderman. But even Spiderman can’t override the music systems of nearby aircraft to have them play AC/DC while he battles. Iron Man rocks the world while he battles, and his appreciative audience cheers. Some of the other heroes, like Captain America, may doubt Tony Stark’s resolve, but not the audience, who watch a man who has everything put it on the line for the rest of us. Rock on, Ironman.