Unsure who Black Widow is? Having trouble deciphering the Hulk’s roar? Can’t tell the difference between Hawkeye and Katniss? In anticipation of the release of The Avengers on May 4, EW’s team of super geeks is here to help guide you through the mythos with our seven-part series of superhero primers, the recently declassified “Avengers Files.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a comic book connoisseur or a Nick Fury newbie — follow along this week as we deconstruct Earth’s mightiest heroes and pose the question: Which Avenger is the mightiest?
Name: Iron Man/Tony Stark
First comic appearance: Tales of Suspense #39 (March 10, 1963), created by Stan Lee, written by Larry Lieber, and designed by Don Heck and Jack Kirby
First movie appearance: Iron Man (2008); $318.4 million domestic, $585.1 million worldwide
Portrayed by: Save for an array of voice actors that have brought the metallic toon to life, Robert Downey, Jr. was the first thesp to bring Iron Man to the tough, non-pixelated reality of live-action.
Origin story: After a car crash killed both of his parents, brilliant engineer Tony Stark inherited Stark Industries. During a military field test, a land mine exploded and sent a piece of shrapnel into Stark’s chest, lodging somewhere near his heart. While Stark was held prisoner at a terrorist camp and instructed by his captives to construct advanced weapons, he instead worked with his cellmate to manufacture a magnetic chest plate that prevented the shrapnel from ever reaching his heart. At the same time, Stark built a crude battlesuit — the first Iron Man armor, replete with unrefined weaponry and basic defenses — that he used to break out of captivity and return home. READ FULL STORY