Casual Marvel fans may have a hard time believing this, but the global popularity of Iron Man is a pretty recent phenomenon. Within the comic book world, Iron Man was one of the main players in the earliest days of the Marvel Universe and a founding member of the Avengers. But in the minds of the general public, ‘ol shell head was overshadowed by Spider-Man, the X-Men, Hulk, and even the Punisher!
One of the reasons that Marvel was even able to make an Iron Man film was because no other movie studio had faith it could be a blockbuster before Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. proved them wrong in 2008. But the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Iron Man is far from the only adaption of the armored Avenger. Since Iron Man was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby in 1963, he’s appeared in numerous animated series and direct-to-video animated features.
Ahead of Tony Stark’s return in Captain America: Civil War, Burger Fiction has created a new video that tracks the evolution of Iron Man’s depictions across live-action and animation. After a starring turn in The Marvel Super Heroes in 1966, Iron Man was relegated to guest-star status for nearly two decades before landing his first animated series in 1994. Burger Fiction’s video wisely sidesteps the first season of that show in favor of the much improved second season.
If Marvel had its way, that ‘90s Iron Man animated series would have led to an Iron Man live-action film long before Marvel Studios was even a concept. Instead, Iron Man waxed and waned as a supporting character for another ten years before landing his second animated series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
After audiences embraced the first Iron Man film, Tony Stark’s alter ego became the most popular hero in the MCU. So much so that Downey recently signed on to appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a way to give Tom Holland’s solo Spidey film a boost. Did anyone ever think that we’d see the day when Iron Man was more popular with moviegoers than Spider-Man? Because it’s happening right now.
What do you think about Burger Fiction’s Evolution of Iron Man video? Suit up and leave a comment below!
Did you see our spoiler-free look at Captain America: Civil War yet?
Image: Marvel Studios