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Realizing the growing Marvel audience was composed primarily of hip, and largely left-leaning high-school students and collegians, Stan Lee decided to challenge himself to create a hero who would be the embodiment of everything the counterculture was railing against, and still elicit sympathy from readers. Thus, Tony Stark was born, an older, hard drinking, playboy millionaire. Iron Man quickly became a cult favorite whose popularity has only grown over the years.
The origin story of Iron Man is one deeply rooted in the Vietnam War era, Tony Stark, a weapons designer, is brought in to help the U.S. government in their efforts to combat the Vietcong, whose guerilla tactics make the American military approach of bigger and badder seem obsolete in the steamy jungles of Southeast Asia. While conducting a test, Stark is fatally injured by a booby trap, and during his captivity he constructs a suit of armor that slows the approach of a piece of shrapnel towards his heart, and contains an array of gadgets and firepower. Voila, Iron Man is born, and he is ready to do battle with the forces of Communism and other evils around the globe.