Iron Man Just Proved the World Would Be Better if He Wasn’t a Hero


Marvel’s Iron Man proves he could’ve made the world a better place long ago – if he stopped being Iron Man and started being Tony Stark.

Warning: contains spoilers for Iron Man #16!

Marvel’s Iron Man is one of the founding members of the Avengers and one of the most popular superheroes of all time as of 2022, but he never should have settled on a superhero career. Tony Stark is indeed a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist who spends his waking hours fighting supervillains while not managing a company. But Iron Man #16 proves that Stark should have given up the former in exchange for focusing on the latter years ago.

In current comics continuity, Iron Man has just defeated the all-powerful Korvac, a supervillain with a God complex and an ego to match. Iron Man bests Korvac using a suit of armor infused with the Power Cosmic – the same source of energy used by the Silver Surfer – giving him a nigh-infinite source of power and abilities. After the battle, Stark descends on New York, still in his God Armor, and gives everyone in New York City a gift: his intelligence.


Simply by willing it, Stark grants every New Yorker his own genius-level mind regarding engineering, electronics, mathematics, chemistry, and a dozen other subjects in which Stark is an expert. The effects are immediate: a couple settles their argument using logic and knowledge, and a car mechanic realizes he no longer needs to fix an internal combustion engine when he can simply build a more advanced source of power in an afternoon. Even the supervillain Big Wheel uses his newfound intelligence to construct a new vehicle – but this time to solve the problem of traffic congestion in Manhattan, and not to simply rob banks.

This only serves to show that Stark would have been able to to change the entire world a dozen times over if he wasn’t spending the entire day fighting those bank robbers as Iron Man. Big Wheel’s traffic solution could have been discovered and implemented by Stark – but alas, Tony is his own worst enemy (not to mention a bit of an adrenaline junkie) who believes the problems he must solve are always world-ending and not world-bettering. Tony could simply live his cover story from the 60s: that Iron Man was his bodyguard – and spend his day in his lab solving Earth’s many problems with his superior intellect.

From a Doylist perspective, the world of Marvel Comics must remain as close to our world as possible – thus, no flying cars or cancer cures. However, from a Watsonian perspective, the reasons why Tony Stark hasn’t given up Iron Man are entirely internal. Iron Man can fight the likes of Korvac all day, but he can never defeat his ultimate foe: his own ego.

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