Tony Stark was born to Howard and Maria Stark. Howard Stark was a self-made business tycoon. A hard man, he was an abusive alcoholic.

Young Tony was sent to boarding school to make him a man. There, Tony began a love of games. He loved their rules, concise nature, and the order they represented. At the same time, he began to experiment with erector sets.

Stark went on to be his high school’s valedictorian. He then earned two college degrees, one in physics and another in engineering. But nothing really challenged Tony, everything was all too easy for him. He drifted into his twenties, part of the idle rich. Shiftless and rootless, Tony traipsed around the world. He became a jet set playboy adventurer.

Then his parents were killed in a car crash. When the accident was later blamed on a design flaw in the brakes, Tony bought the company that built his parents’ car, redesigned the brakes, and fixed the flaw in all future models. He then ran Stark Industries—and all of this while he was still in his twenties.

There were two experiences in Tony Stark’s formative years that shaped him greatly: both would affect the way Tony dealt with the world and those around him.

Tony once recounted that his father gave him his first drink—fine, single-malt bourbon— when he was still a little child in order to make him a man (IM 313). Tony drank it to win his father’s approval—as he would later do many things. You see, he spent his childhood trying to please his father. Howard Stark was an alcoholic (with a raging temper), and Tony “succeeded” in becoming like him all to well. At first, Tony drank to loosen up, then over business to relax. Finally, he drank just to drink.

The second seminal event was a doomed romance at the age of seventeen. This had a huge impact on Tony’s psyche and on all of his relationships that were to come. He fell in love with Meredith McCall, daughter of Creighton McCall, Howard Stark’s arch-rival and number one competitor. The only thing the two men ever agreed on was keeping their kids apart. Tony wasn’t even allowed to say good-bye before he and Meredith found themselves on separate continents.

To be continued . . .

Tony Stark: The Early Years

This page copyright 2006, 2009 by Tim Rassbach.

Iron Man and all associated characters are the property of Marvel Comics.

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