When it comes to superhero deaths, publications don’t really like to permanently “end” their characters, especially if they are fan favorites. Iron Man was always one of the most iconic superheroes of Marvel Comics, and his impact has been felt since his first appearance in 1962. The Silver Age of Comics was important for many reasons, mostly including characters like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, but Iron Man slowly but surely became one of the main characters. Of course, besides his great effect on Marvel Comics, Tony Stark was also heavily featured in other media, notably in Marvel Cinematic Universe, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. However, we wondered how many times Iron Man died in Marvel Comics. Let’s find out.
Iron Man died nine times, not including his two faked deaths in the ‘Armor Wars’ story and classic ‘Iron Man’ comics in one issue of 1987. Of course, these include alternate universes, like ‘Marvel Zombies’ but also main continuity storylines like notable ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ and ‘Secret Wars.’ The most brutal death is certainly in the ‘Thanos Wins’ storyline, which sees the Mad Titan ripping Iron Man apart. In true Tony Stark fashion, as a rich and influential man, he faked his death many times in the comics.
MCU saw the great character dying to save the whole universe from Mad Titan, which motivated us to research his deaths in Marvel Comics, and interestingly enough, he died quite a lot. We will include notable alternate universe stories where the rich scientist died but exclude the faked or alleged deaths of Iron Man. If you are interested, stay with us until the end.
1. The Mad Titan rips Iron Man apart in the ‘Thanos Wins’ storyline.
This 2017 story is one of the better Marvel stories released recently. The concept of the Mad Titan winning and ultimately killing everyone standing in his way seems plain, but after actually reading this novel, one can see why fans absolutely love this story.
Now old, King Thanos, tired of killing everyone, wants to settle with his love, Death. We learn that the Mad Titan went on a killing spree for Death to be closer to her. King Thanos drags a young version of himself to his timeline to kill him, and let’s just say that the “youngster” isn’t amused.
Nevertheless, Tony Stark dies with the rest of the Earth’s superheroes, fighting the Mad Titan one last time, and the creators really wanted the showcase the brutality of his death – Thanos literally tears him apart. ‘Thanos Wins’ is a really compelling story where we see Hulk enslaved and becoming Thanos’ pet, Frank Castle becoming a Ghost Rider, and Mad Titan’s servant, and everyone is dead – definitely check out this comic.
2. ‘Civil War II’ sees Captain Marvel murdering Tony Stark.
The first ‘Civil War’ saw Captain America and Iron Man on opposite sides because of disagreements about the Superhero Registration Act, which saw the superheroes destroying everything in their fight, but ‘Civil War II’ is what made Captain Marvel really disliked among the fans.
This comic book story is similar to DC’s ‘Injustice’ since it features Earth’s strongest superheroes trying to imprison everyone before the evil deed or crime has occurred, and Iron Man isn’t really happy about it. When Captain Marvel’s blind belief in the young mutant Ulysses’ potential future vision skews her views and starts hunting everyone before the danger even occurs, costs She-Hulk and War-Machine their lives, Iron Man snaps and becomes the enemy number one.
Every major superhero character on each side starts brawling, but when Captain Marvel decides to imprison Miles Morales, believing that the teenager will kill Steve Rogers, Iron Man attacks the former military pilot, and the two end up in an epic fight. Captain Marvel deals Stark a brutal hit, and the genius dies, but not before saving his brain backup.
Iron Man’s consciousness is later transferred to a cloned body, but his death was impactful and should be mentioned.
3. ‘Secret Wars’ is the event where Cap brutally beats Iron Man and kills him.
The ‘Secret Wars’ event is impactful since it does see the Ultimate Universe colliding with Earth-616 and forces the superheroes of respective universes to try their best to save everyone. Of course, that doesn’t happen, and despite Tony Stark’s best efforts and hope, the heroes fail, and the incursions destroy both worlds. Of course, just before the ultimate end, Captain America brutally beats Iron Man, accusing him of false belief and the fact that he knew that their efforts to do something were futile.
Cap beats Stark to death, while very few individuals save themselves from destruction by secretly entering the “lifeboat” created by the Maker (Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe). Thankfully, Miles Morales’ positivity and Fantastic Four and Molecule Man’s efforts see the Multiverse being restructured.
Also, this storyline has God Emperor Doom, and he is glorious.
4. Onslaught kills Iron Man in ‘X-Men’ Vol. 2 comic book.
Onslaught is one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe since he was created from Magneto and Professor Xavier’s minds. This sentient being decides to destroy everything and everyone, and it included Tony Stark.
Three major superhero groups, the Fantastic Four, Avengers, and X-Men, combine their powers against the powerful being, but Tony decides to sacrifice himself for the greater good. He is eventually revived with the rest of the dead characters in the ‘Heroes Reborn’ storyline that sees superheroes put in the alternate universe.
5. ‘Avengers Crossing’ is a controversial storyline where Tony Stark was a spy planted by Kang the Conqueror.
One of the most controversial storylines in the 1990s was the one where Iron Man is actually a planted spy by Kang the Conqueror among the Avengers. The comic book story ‘Avengers: The Crossing’ tells the story of an evil Iron Man who, for some reason, romances Wanda Maximoff and leads the Avengers to get a younger Stark to help them against his older version of himself.
Iron Man eventually dies by sacrifice and passes his mantle to the younger version of himself. The story was weirdly paced and changed multiple writers during its run, which is why it was so disappointing. ‘Heroes Reborn’ was the event that retconned a lot of storylines in the 1990s, and ‘Avengers: The Crossing’ truly needed that.
6. ‘Iron Man,’ run from 2020, explores Stark’s mental health and is ultimately killed by Crimson Dynamo.
Over the years, Iron Man’s character development saw him going from his usual determined and intense superhero who uses his genius to develop great weapons, tools, and machines that would help the people. However, ‘Iron Man’ run from 2020 saw him deferring to artificial intelligence and his identity crisis.
He abandons his superhero life and returns to his scientific experiments and inventions. However, a new threat in Michael Korvac and his using the powers from Gutenberg’s bible to take over the world is what makes Stark return as the Iron Man. The villain captures Stark’s best friend, Rhodey, and when Iron Man comes to rescue War Machine, he is killed by Crimson Dynamo and his nerve gas.
Stark is technically dead, connected to the tubes in the hospital, but is alive towards the end of the run. The story is interesting, but fans criticized the AI part of the comic.
7. Tony Stark is bitten by the zombified Fantastic Four in the ‘Marvel Zombies’ storyline.
Over the years, we saw praise and criticism regarding the ‘Marvel Zombies’ storyline, and they were mostly right. The stories created by Robert Kirkman are really good, but other tries at retelling the Zombies storyline are quite unremarkable. Nevertheless, Kirkman’s ‘Marvel Zombies’ are really good, and it features most of the Marvel superheroes being infected by the Zombie Virus that turns individuals into superpowered zombies.
Tony Stark was working in his lab when suddenly the zombified Fantastic Four arrived and infected him. As a zombie, Stark joins other infected superheroes and slowly spreads the disease, even infecting the Devourer of the Worlds, Galactus. Kirkman’s run is quite good, so definitely check it out!
8. Continuation of the ‘Secret Wars’ event sees Iron Man “killing” himself to prevent Norman Osbourne from using his resources for his bad deeds.
‘Secret Invasion‘ is one of the most intense and major events in Marvel Comics, and its consequences were great for our superheroes, including Tony Stark. Earth saw the change in world order, Norman Osbourne becoming the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Stark becoming the ‘Most Wanted’ criminal in the world.
‘Invincible Iron Man’ from 2008 is one of the best Iron Man runs in recent memory, and it serves us a great visualization of Earth’s society after the Skrull Invasion. Iron Man is an enemy number one, and to stop Osbourn and his tyranny behind the scenes, he secures his resources, knowledge (his brain) and creates a special database.
During his fight against Osbourn, Stark loses and deletes his mind. However, we later see that Stark’s mind has been stored safely and guarded by Pepper Potts, which would eventually find its way back to Tony’s body. Iron Man has been dead for a while, and it makes sense for the story, hence why we included it. It’s a really good Iron Man run, so definitely check it out.
9. The famous story, ‘Infinity Gauntlet,’ sees Thanos’ lover Teraxxia brutally killing Iron Man.
Finally, the notable ‘Infinity Gauntlet‘ storyline is where Thanos decides to collect all Infinity Stones and rule the whole universe. We already saw the cinematic version of the story in MCU, but the graphic aspect and brutality of the comic were never and probably won’t ever be religiously adapted to the big screen.
Thanos is not alone on his mission and brings his lover Teraxxia, whom he created after Death rejected him. Teraxxia is the being created by Infinity Gauntlet, and she is brutal. She murders Spider-Man with a rock projectile, while Iron Man suffers a beheading, ultimately ending his life among many other superheroes in this story. However, as we know, Adam Warlock and Silver Surfer save everyone by beating Thanos, while Nebula “unsnaps” the universe.
It’s a classic story that every comic book fan should check out.
What are your thoughts on Iron Man and his deaths? Let us know in the comments below!