View Poll Results: Who is Iron Manís archenemy?

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  • The Mandarin still

    25 47.17%
  • Iron Monger

    2 3.77%
  • Ezekiel Stane

    1 1.89%
  • Madame Masque

    2 3.77%
  • Someone else

    8 15.09%
  • He has none

    14 26.42%
  • His real archnemesis is yet to be revealed

    1 1.89%
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  1. #46
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    I think you nailed it - Tony Stark's most frequent enemy is Tony Stark. It's just his personality. He over-reaches, over-dreams, over-acts, and then has to dig himself out of the hole.


    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    There's also the fact that Stark, by his very nature, is a character about balancing responsibility and hubris. Those characters often don't have arch-enemies.

    In stories about balancing responsibility and hubris, the protagonist himself is the villain half the time, as he struggles to find the line between doing all he can to help the world, and controlling the world or being a mad scientist/mad wizard. The question is how far should he go to do so before he becomes a controlling dictator or mad god. Villains in such stories tend to be characters who either push the hero into giving in to his flaws, or examples of what the hero is becoming if he continues his path. That is, when the villains exist at all, as as I said before the protagonist is the villain of the story half the time. Iron Man is the poster-boy for this sort of story.

    That makes him very different from, say, Spider-Man, who is about balancing responsibility with just having a normal life. There's no danger of Parker becoming a mad scientist or overreaching wizard because he's simply not powerful enough or quite smart enough for that to be a thing. Instead it's about the difficulty of finding that sweet spot where he helps his community as much as he can, while not neglecting his wife and aunt or failing to pay his rent. Such a character is far more likely to have a consistent arch-enemy, because an arch-enemy is there to put a massive strain on his ability to balance those two things, or even to accomplish just one of them.

    All that said, to the degree that Stark can even be said to have an arch-enemy, it is clearly The Mandarin.

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    It's still The Mandarin. Doctor Doom gets lots of play in other books, including Iron Man, but Doctor Doom didn't become Iron Man's arch-enemy because of that. Ultimately no other foe has The Mandarin's blend of brilliance, savagery, skill, wealth, and vastness of organization. The only character who can really compete with the Mandarin is Doom, and he's taken.
    Agreed. It still is The Mandarin. It's not even a question to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    There's also the fact that Stark, by his very nature, is a character about balancing responsibility and hubris. Those characters often don't have arch-enemies.

    In stories about balancing responsibility and hubris, the protagonist himself is the villain half the time, as he struggles to find the line between doing all he can to help the world, and controlling the world or being a mad scientist/mad wizard. The question is how far should he go to do so before he becomes a controlling dictator or mad god. Villains in such stories tend to be characters who either push the hero into giving in to his flaws, or examples of what the hero is becoming if he continues his path. That is, when the villains exist at all, as as I said before the protagonist is the villain of the story half the time. Iron Man is the poster-boy for this sort of story.

    That makes him very different from, say, Spider-Man, who is about balancing responsibility with just having a normal life. There's no danger of Parker becoming a mad scientist or overreaching wizard because he's simply not powerful enough or quite smart enough for that to be a thing. Instead it's about the difficulty of finding that sweet spot where he helps his community as much as he can, while not neglecting his wife and aunt or failing to pay his rent. Such a character is far more likely to have a consistent arch-enemy, because an arch-enemy is there to put a massive strain on his ability to balance those two things, or even to accomplish just one of them.

    All that said, to the degree that Stark can even be said to have an arch-enemy, it is clearly The Mandarin.
    Very good points about Tony. Fraction basically said the same thing when he wrote Tony.
    " I've learned that free will isn't a gift-it's muscle that needs to be exercised-and only when it's in peak condition-is a man truly awake" TONY STARK

  3. #48
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    The Iron Man and The Mandarinís life-stories parallel each other, except the Mandarinís is much more evil at every level.

    Both Iron Man and Mandarin began as aristocrats.

    Iron Man was raised by parents who were cold and concerned with hardening him up and making him a real man.

    The Mandarin was raised by an aunt who hated him, and raised him to be an evil super-soldier, obsessed with war and science and martial arts and political deviousness. He was raised to be the harshest possible version of what a ďreal manĒ is.

    Iron Man squandered some of his fortune on wasteful, hedonistic things, but ultimately was responsible enough to keep his company afloat and keep the people under him employed and prosperous.

    The Mandarin squandered every bit of wealth he inherited, bankrupting his estate to transform himself into a super-soldier. His estate became so bankrupt he couldnít even afford to pay property taxes. As a result, the lives of everyone who depended on his estate were ruined.

    Out of a desire to protect American soldiers with the best equipment and keep his company alive, Iron Man de facto supported American actions that were at least semi-colonial. Itís a stain on his conscience that he works every day to rectify.

    The Mandarin explored new lands, discovered alien resources, and outright conquered, colonized, enslaved the native villages there so he could exploit the resources there, i.e. the alien technology and rings. He was pretty much colonialism-incarnate. He remains a proud conqueror and exploiter to this day. In short, the Mandarin is an exaggeration of Starkís worst traits.

  4. #49
    Mighty Member chamber-music's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetengine View Post
    Starks rogues aren't great, but most are tied to the soviet union so its going to happen
    Many of Iron Man's sixties and seventies villains were tied to to the Soviet Union but many of his eighties and nineties villains were more corporate espionage type foes. From the eighties onward Iron Man's foes tended to be more rival corporate foes like Hammer, Cord, Stane, Bain and the various mercenaries, assassins and crooks they employed. You laso had the disgruntled ex-employees or people put out of business by Stark that ended up as foes.

  5. #50
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    Even in the sixties a lot of his foes where non-soviet. You had the queen of the underworld, a time travel adventure in ancient Egypt, alien invasions, plain old criminals, non-political mastermind conquerors, and, of course, Namor, who's always been an unofficial Iron Man villain. Really only Titanium Man, Black Widow, and Crimson Dynamo were Soviet, and they didn't appear all that often.

  6. #51
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Another problem with Iron Man not having an Arch-Enemy is that he doesn't have a perfect foil. Iron Man's enemies are basically in the same country club that he goes to, so the stories come off as basically being an insular clique thing. On one hand that's not inaccurate to the world of big business. The rich people are a smaller part of the global population and they would mostly know and relate to each other. On the other hand, it doesn't make for interesting storytelling since rarely does Iron Man confront stuff outside his wheelhouse. Mandarin who is now unusable as a character, even when he worked, was basically just a guy who was also rich like Tony and good with magic and science. They weren't much as foils. Justin Hammer, also rich guy.

    You look at Batman and he has Joker. They are great foils for each other on multiple levels but the essential one, true even in The Dark Knight, is that Batman is rich and Joker is poor. Joker says in The Dark Knight that he brought the city to its knees using cheap tricks, whereas Batman with all his wealth can't do enough to save it. So that makes it interesting and challenging, especially since in The Dark Knight, the audience is invited to identify with the Joker on some level.

    Take Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Reed is a WASP living the American Dream, Doom is a poor Romani immigrant to America who went back home and became a dictator. So there's a rich contrast there. The dude who ultimately creates an American style nuclear family and lives a kind of middle-class prestige and celebrity versus the immigrant kid who spat on the American Dream and promise and went back and became a tyrant.

    Likewise, Peter Parker and Norman Osborn. Peter is the poor working-class scholarship guy who is tied to community, family and roots, while Norman Osborn is the embodiment of Old New York Money and Wall Street capitalism. So there's a rich contrast there.

    I am using class as a measure for this, and people can add in other stuff, but that to me is one reason why Iron Man doesn't have an Arch Enemy.

  7. #52
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    It's Jack Daniels.

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Another problem with Iron Man not having an Arch-Enemy is that he doesn't have a perfect foil. Iron Man's enemies are basically in the same country club that he goes to, so the stories come off as basically being an insular clique thing. On one hand that's not inaccurate to the world of big business. The rich people are a smaller part of the global population and they would mostly know and relate to each other. On the other hand, it doesn't make for interesting storytelling since rarely does Iron Man confront stuff outside his wheelhouse. Mandarin who is now unusable as a character, even when he worked, was basically just a guy who was also rich like Tony and good with magic and science. They weren't much as foils. Justin Hammer, also rich guy.

    You look at Batman and he has Joker. They are great foils for each other on multiple levels but the essential one, true even in The Dark Knight, is that Batman is rich and Joker is poor. Joker says in The Dark Knight that he brought the city to its knees using cheap tricks, whereas Batman with all his wealth can't do enough to save it. So that makes it interesting and challenging, especially since in The Dark Knight, the audience is invited to identify with the Joker on some level.

    Take Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Reed is a WASP living the American Dream, Doom is a poor Romani immigrant to America who went back home and became a dictator. So there's a rich contrast there. The dude who ultimately creates an American style nuclear family and lives a kind of middle-class prestige and celebrity versus the immigrant kid who spat on the American Dream and promise and went back and became a tyrant.

    Likewise, Peter Parker and Norman Osborn. Peter is the poor working-class scholarship guy who is tied to community, family and roots, while Norman Osborn is the embodiment of Old New York Money and Wall Street capitalism. So there's a rich contrast there.

    I am using class as a measure for this, and people can add in other stuff, but that to me is one reason why Iron Man doesn't have an Arch Enemy.
    The original Ghost comes close to fitting the bill.

  9. #54
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    Captain America, probably.

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeweasel View Post
    It's Jack Daniels.
    I’m surprised it took 4 pages for someone to make this joke.
    " I've learned that free will isn't a gift-it's muscle that needs to be exercised-and only when it's in peak condition-is a man truly awake" TONY STARK

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Another problem with Iron Man not having an Arch-Enemy is that he doesn't have a perfect foil. Iron Man's enemies are basically in the same country club that he goes to, so the stories come off as basically being an insular clique thing. On one hand that's not inaccurate to the world of big business. The rich people are a smaller part of the global population and they would mostly know and relate to each other. On the other hand, it doesn't make for interesting storytelling since rarely does Iron Man confront stuff outside his wheelhouse. Mandarin who is now unusable as a character, even when he worked, was basically just a guy who was also rich like Tony and good with magic and science. They weren't much as foils. Justin Hammer, also rich guy.
    Well Penguin was actually Batman's second most popular foe for a long time, so much so that he was the second villain to get a movie, and damned near the star of the Gotham TV show. And he's essentially an evil Bruce Wayne, an evil aristocrat in a business suit. Black Mask is also an evil Bruce Wayne, and he gets a decent amount of play, though he has the problem of his niche already being occupied by Penguin.

    Also Mandarin isn't just a rich guy, he's a rich who embodies the evils of imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, and the military industrial complex. He's everything Stark has rejected and tried to leave behind.

    You look at Batman and he has Joker. They are great foils for each other on multiple levels but the essential one, true even in The Dark Knight, is that Batman is rich and Joker is poor. Joker says in The Dark Knight that he brought the city to its knees using cheap tricks, whereas Batman with all his wealth can't do enough to save it. So that makes it interesting and challenging, especially since in The Dark Knight, the audience is invited to identify with the Joker on some level.
    The thing is, while Batman is technically rich, he doesn't live like a rich man. He lives like a combination of a gritty detective and a poor soldier. He's always down in the dirt looking for clues, and while he has the best military equipment, his life is otherwise very spartan. Writers get around his being rich by playing up the gritty detective/spartan soldier aspects of the character. Meanwhile Joker is often shown living it up like a Mafia type, for example enjoying perversions in Penguin's clubs. Joker clearly isn't poor, even if it is ambiguous how he gets his money. Even in the movie, he begins by robbing 25 million and uses that to fund everything else he does in the movie. Comicbook Joker's source of wealth is more ambiguous, but he throws money around very casually, and generally seems to live a more hedonistic life than Batman.

    Take Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Reed is a WASP living the American Dream, Doom is a poor Romani immigrant to America who went back home and became a dictator. So there's a rich contrast there. The dude who ultimately creates an American style nuclear family and lives a kind of middle-class prestige and celebrity versus the immigrant kid who spat on the American Dream and promise and went back and became a tyrant.
    Eh, that past was left behind so long ago that it's a stretch to say that Doom is about coming from poverty. Generally, it seems to be more about family vs narcissism. The Fantastic Four are a family of flawed people, who nonetheless are stronger working together. Doom meanwhile surrounds himself with a "family" of robots who look and think exactly like him. Superficially it seems like Doom should have the advantage. His "family" are flawless, and completely controlled. Richard's family is uncontrollable, chaotic, and full of human flaws. Yet the uncontrollable team of chaotic flawed humans always beats his robotic perfection. Freedom and humanity always beats tyranny.

    Likewise, Peter Parker and Norman Osborn. Peter is the poor working-class scholarship guy who is tied to community, family and roots, while Norman Osborn is the embodiment of Old New York Money and Wall Street capitalism. So there's a rich contrast there.

    I am using class as a measure for this, and people can add in other stuff, but that to me is one reason why Iron Man doesn't have an Arch Enemy.
    I think a case could be made that Stark's villains should always be much richer than he is. Indeed, one of the reasons why The Mandarin worked is that he is plainly much richer than Stark. He controls hundreds of corporations, has his own country, has huge amounts of underworld control, many secret bases, etc. Compared to The Mandarin, Stark IS poor. Indeed, Mandarin, Doom, and Namor are all clearly richer than Stark, and all have been his enemies.

    However, making Stark feel poorer than his enemies isn't as easy as it is with Batman. With Batman, you just show him living in this spartan detective/soldier way, and he feels poor. And you just show Joker partying it up in Penguin's club and he feels like a rich mafioso. Sure, Wayne is realistically richer than Joker, but it's an easy writing trick to make the reverse feel true.

    It's not that easy with Stark, because he is an inventor, and his laboratory is clearly very comfortable and full of labor-saving robots. He spends a lot of time as Tony Stark doing philanthropy, but even that philanthropy is clearly much more comfortable than Batman's spartan existence.

    So you have to go to incredible lengths to establish the Mandarin's existence as being richer than Stark's. It can and has been done, but it's not nearly as easy a sell.


  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    The Iron Man and The Mandarin’s life-stories parallel each other, except the Mandarin’s is much more evil at every level.

    Both Iron Man and Mandarin began as aristocrats.

    Iron Man was raised by parents who were cold and concerned with hardening him up and making him a real man.

    The Mandarin was raised by an aunt who hated him, and raised him to be an evil super-soldier, obsessed with war and science and martial arts and political deviousness. He was raised to be the harshest possible version of what a “real man” is.

    Iron Man squandered some of his fortune on wasteful, hedonistic things, but ultimately was responsible enough to keep his company afloat and keep the people under him employed and prosperous.

    The Mandarin squandered every bit of wealth he inherited, bankrupting his estate to transform himself into a super-soldier. His estate became so bankrupt he couldn’t even afford to pay property taxes. As a result, the lives of everyone who depended on his estate were ruined.

    Out of a desire to protect American soldiers with the best equipment and keep his company alive, Iron Man de facto supported American actions that were at least semi-colonial. It’s a stain on his conscience that he works every day to rectify.

    The Mandarin explored new lands, discovered alien resources, and outright conquered, colonized, enslaved the native villages there so he could exploit the resources there, i.e. the alien technology and rings. He was pretty much colonialism-incarnate. He remains a proud conqueror and exploiter to this day. In short, the Mandarin is an exaggeration of Stark’s worst traits.
    This shows some nice parallels between Tony and The Mandarin. This is why no one else comes close as to being his arch no.
    " I've learned that free will isn't a gift-it's muscle that needs to be exercised-and only when it's in peak condition-is a man truly awake" TONY STARK

  13. #58
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    The Mandarin appears so infrequently that I have a hard time considering him the archenemy. If I were going to go with an existing and obvious character, it'd be Tony as his own worst enemy. That feels like a bit of a cheat, so I picked "yet to be revealed". At this point, they really should do one of the following:

    The Mandarin should be used as frequently as Lex is for Superman.
    An existing character should be get some character development, appear more, and see if they can turn that character into his archenemy. I can't believe it is necessary to state this, but it has to be a costumed villain. It should not be a government agency, a politician, booze, or another hero.

    Honestly, I don't think any armored villain would work. Tony is always going to be the best armor creator, so all others will end up deficient in order to maintain his status. Beyond that, I have no clear candidate in mind.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelC View Post
    Well Penguin was actually Batman's second most popular foe for a long time, so much so that he was the second villain to get a movie, and damned near the star of the Gotham TV show.
    What does this have to do with my argument. I said Joker and not Penguin.

    Also Mandarin isn't just a rich guy, he's a rich who embodies the evils of imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, and the military industrial complex. He's everything Stark has rejected and tried to leave behind.
    I am not entirely sure Stark entirely left that behind. He's tried to do so but remember that in comic book terms he became a superhero at the age of 40 and he hasn't been a hero for too long a time. The period when he had that shrapnel in his chest is in Tony's timeline a fairly recent event, much moreso than Peter's spider-bite and his uncle's death. Like in EXTREMIS, that interviewer points out that even Tony's well-intentioned corporate philanthropy still plays into the military-industrial complex and then you have Civil War and Head of SHIELD and that entire mess that led to Dark Reign.

    The thing is, while Batman is technically rich, he doesn't live like a rich man. He lives like a combination of a gritty detective and a poor soldier.
    That's a pretty weird interpretation and argument. I am gonna have to ask which Batman are you talking about. Grant Morrison's Batman was a playboy and compared to James Bond multiple times. Steve Englehart's Batman (Strange Apparitions) was also a playboy. As is Michael Keaton's Batman, Val Kilmer's and so on. Ben Affleck's Batman also is one. The Kevin Conroy Batman likewise. Batman is also shown with expensive cars, expensive furnishings and private jets and so on. Like in Nolan's Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini sports car. About the only Batman I can think of as "poor soldier" is Frank Miller's ASBAR Batman where he forced Robin to live on cats and apparently did the nasty with Selina in the sewers in his backstory. That's not a mainstream Batman interpretation. And even Frank Miller in his earlier work showed Bruce as super-rich...he has a stud farm in The Dark Knight Returns and in Year One drives a sports bike.

    Meanwhile Joker is often shown living it up like a Mafia type, for example enjoying perversions in Penguin's clubs.
    Depends on the version. He's shown in a sado-masochistic committed relationship with Harley Quinn in Post-Crisis.

    Eh, that past was left behind so long ago that it's a stretch to say that Doom is about coming from poverty.
    It's a part of his origin, FF Annual #2 and is alluded to multiple times including Brubaker's Books of Doom. Heck Doom even brings it up in that famous Luke Cage issue pointing out that Luke was just like Victor growing up, a poor minority kid persecuted by unjust authority.

    I think a case could be made that Stark's villains should always be much richer than he is.
    Immaterial if in the world of the Marvel Universe, Tony is several times richer than his supporting cast, his colleagues and also in the eyes of the reader far richer than they can hope to be.

    Tony is the richest superhero in the Marvel Universe and he's one of USA's richest people in 616 Continuity. Trying to give him boho "street cred" is ridiculous. Like to take one of my favorite scenes from Bendis' run:

    Tony Stark: Do you like your dad?
    Mary Jane Watson: Not particularly.
    Tony Stark: Y'have a mean dad?
    MJ: Yeah.
    Tony Stark: Me too. He was soooo mad at the world. And my general existence wasn't helping him get over it. He sees you standing there and instead of seeing legacy...all he sees are missed opportunities. @#$% you, Howard.
    MJ (pause): I left home the second I could.
    Tony Stark: So did I.
    MJ: Yeah, but you did with a big duffel bag full of cash.
    — Invincible Iron Man #11, (2016), written by Brian Michael Bendis

    Basically that's Mary Jane reminding Tony that he's never gonna have as much street cred as the girl who was born poor and ran away from home and made herself successful by herself.

  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    He's tried to do so but remember that in comic book terms he became a superhero at the age of 40 and he hasn't been a hero for too long a time..
    That's not true. You're confusing comicbook Stark with movie Stark. Comicbook Stark's initial age is ambiguous, but usually implied to be in his early twenties. And he is currently in his early to mid thirties. Comicbook Stark will never be forty in main continuity. And that happened to him at roughly the same time as all the other founding Silver Age origins.

    Also, Stark lost his fortune and was eating out of dumpsters for a year. Everything he currently has he worked for very hard.

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