As Tony Stark gears up for his third outing as Iron Man (Iron Man 3 in cinemas from Friday), here's everything you need to know about the mega-mechanic...
Iron Man 1 (2008)
We first met Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) in the first 'Iron Man' movie in 2008. Stark is an engineering genius, playboy and billionaire. He inherited Stark Enterprises from his father when his parents were killed in a car accident secretly orchestrated by rival corporation Republic Oil. Tony Stark has a loyal personal assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has a crush on Stark. Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Terrence Howard) is a friend of Stark's, and the liaison between Stark Industries and the United States Air Force in the department of acquisitions, specifically weapons development.
Iron Man with the loyal Pepper Potts at his side
While in Afghanistan demonstrating a new missile, he's critically wounded in an ambush when a land mine explodes and lodges shrapnel near his heart. He is kept alive by an electromagnet grafted to his chest stopping the shrapnel reaching his heart, which was developed by Professor Ho Yinsen, a world-famous physicist and the person he shares his cell with. His captors are a terrorist group called Ten Rings, led by Raza, who offer him freedom in exchange for building a devastating weapon for the group. Instead, Yinsen and Stark start secretly building an armored suit which Stark plans to use to escape his captors. The Ten Rings attack the workshop when they discover their plans and Yinsen sacrifices himself to divert them while Stark's suit powers up and escapes. When he's back home, Stark announces his company will stop making weapons.
"I had my eyes opened. I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up. And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries."-Tony Stark
After Stark returns, he replaces his electromagnet with new technology - the arc reactor - and works to improve his suits. However, once he's back, he discovers that his second in command at Stark industries, Obadiah Stane, has been selling Stark weapons to terrorists. Pepper Potts informs him that Stane is trying to replace him as head of his company and that Stane has been supplying the terrorists and hired the Ten Rings to kill Stark.
When he uncovers a this nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.
2010 Iron Man 2
The whole world now knows Tony Stark is the superhero Iron Man, but he is under pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military but he's not going to give up a suit.
"I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself, which is tantamount to indentured servitude or prostitution, depending on what state you're in. You can't have it." - Tony Stark
The arc reactor which is keeping Stark alive and powering his suit is slowly poisoning him. He keeps his impending death a secret, but it's leading to despondency and reckless behaviour whilst Stark is facing a constant battle to redesign his suits to face the new challenges he meets on a daily basis.
'Rhodey' (Don Cheadle) - one of the few people Iron Man can rely on
Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko, the son of deceased Anton Vanko who was Howard Stark's former partner, begins building an arc reactor similar to Stark's to seek revenge on the Stark family for their wealth and the Vanko family's decline into poverty in Russia. A battle commences in which Vanko dies, but it is revealed his death is faked by rival defence contractor Justin Hammer who uses Vanko's knowledge to create a suit drones to rival Iron Man's.
Witnessing the slow decline of Iron Man, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping espionage organization S.H.I.E.L.D, approaches Stark with some confidential information about a new element discovered by Stark's father Howard. The element is untested, but could cure his impending death. When Tony Stark gets word that Vanko is alive and seeking revenge, he takes a risk and uses the untested element to ready himself for battle with Vanko and Hammer.
Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts, and James "Rhodey" Rhodes at his side, must forge new alliances - and confront powerful enemies.
The Avengers Assemble
In the Avengers Assemble, Stark is asked by Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping espionage organization S.H.I.E.L.D, to save the world with Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor after it is infiltrated by Thor's adoptive brother Loki in an attempt to subjugate Earth.
Stark faces an epic battle which exposes him to the knowledge that there are far more risks and dangers that he ever knew existed and potent forces at work. Will anything ever be the same again?
2013 Iron Man 3
After returning from the epic battle in 'Avengers Assemble', Stark becomes even more attached to his suits, isolating himself in his laboratory to fine tune Mark XLII. But when he faces an enemy whose reach knows no bounds, Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands and he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible.
"I have to protect the one thing I can't live without."-Tony Stark
Does the suit make the man?
This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Tony Stark's Friends and family:
• James 'Rhodey' Rhodes AKA War Machine: Best friend and ally (Don Cheadle)
• Pepper Potts: Former administrative assistant, now CEO of Stark Industries and girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow)
• Ho Yinsen : Fellow captive in Afghanistan
• Nick Fury: S.H.I.E.L.D. Director
• Happy Hogan: Personal driver and friend, charged with protecting Pepper Potts (Jon Favreau)
• Howard Stark: Father
• Maria Stark: Mother
Important Enemies of Tony Stark so far:
• Ten Rings: terrorist organisation who capture Tony to build them the ultimate weapon
• Raza: Leader of Ten Rings
• Obadiah Stane: Corrupt Stark Industries second in command who wants to overthrow Tony
• Ivan Vanko: Son of Howard Stark's former partner who seeks revenge on Tony
• Justin Hammer: Rival defence contractor
• Loki: Exile from other world Asgard who wishes to subjugate earth
• The Mandarin: New enemy in Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is in UK cinemas this week. Trailer and images below...