Saturday, April 5, 2014

Datafile - Stark/Stane

Courtesy of the Noto Archives
Most of the first generation of Marvels came across their powers by accident. Only one built his abilities by hand. Tony Stark, founder of Stark Industries, took on the persona of Iron Man to originally escape a kidnapping attempt. Stark soon became the personification of the swinging superhero. He enjoyed the celebrity that other Marvels often found uncomfortable. Stark Tower parties often rivaled the Playboy Mansion for eclectic mixes of people.

Tony's hard partying caught up with him fifteen years later. A battle with alcoholism weakened his control on Stark Industries. Much of the 80's was spent in a mixture of the boardroom and battlefield, fending off rival companies, buyouts, and a new wave of Marvels looking to make their name by taking down one of the few unafraid to reveal their secret identity. Stark stood tall through most of the battles, but they wore him down to the point where, in the mid-90's, he stepped down from both the company and his time in the suit. Stark Industries found a new leader in Tony's son, Shane Stark.

Shane Stark leaving a nightclub in London
Shane eliminated most of Stark Industries rivals by fighting fire with fire. He aggressively pursued them through buyouts, hostile takeovers and legal actions. Perhaps it was seeing his father driven to drink by the stress of being a CEO and a Marvel, but Shane's doggedness matched that of his father. With the merger of Stark Industries to long time rival Stane International in 1999, Shane began to build his own legacy. A legacy that didn't include being a Marvel. Shane never took on the Iron Man mantle and has commented in public several times that he has no interest or intention to step inside the suit.

Iron Man instead has become the public face of Stark/Stane, which continues to primarily manufacture technology for military organizations, SHIELD, and the Fantastic Foundation. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Citizen Iron, the reality show where contestants vie for a chance to be a Marvel for a year. While none of the Iron Marks have gone on to notoriety (outside of the tragedy that claimed the life of Iron Mark VI), every year thousands of hopefuls line up at tryouts across the USA hoping for a chance to step into the suit.

Tony Stark at Jim Rhodes's retirement party
As for Tony Stark, the toast of the town has now become the billionaire recluse.  Rumors of a falling out with Shane persist. He is rarely seen outside his mansion. The life of the party has been notably absent from retirement and funeral events from the first generation of Marvels. Tony Stark was once of the best and brightest humanity had to offer. But his demons may have finally defeated him.

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