|<< Cover: An image of Tony Stark lounging in an executive black leather chair with a custom made suit. >>
Stark, the Man behind Iron Man
<< A full page image of Iron Man facing directly forward while saluting, with Tony Stark standing a little behind him and facing off toward the side somewhat; a dramatic pose. The title of the article is spread across the top of the photo and the bottom has the following caption from below. >>
Much to The Men’s Journal surprise, Stark finally agreed to an interview we have been attempting to gain for two years. I was even more surprised when they decided to send me - a male - into the clutches of ‘The Tony Stark’. I suppose the magazine thought I was less likely to be seduced and more likely to get an interview done that included a reflection of Stark beyond his bedroom practices.
Interviewer: Just a few days ago at a New York club, you were seen with model Alicia Metra. You two were seen together a few months earlier. It is rare to see you date the same woman more than once, are you two getting serious?
<< A small snapshot of Alicia Metra pressed up against Tony Stark in a nightclub as Stark seems to be laughing at something. Not real high quality. >>
Tony Stark: No, I’m just running out of women. < Laughter > Seriously though, Alicia is a good woman, I remember her name. She doesn’t mind when I make a fool of myself on a club dance floor. We are just friends though, nothing special.
Interviewer: You are about to hit the big three oh, aren’t you even considering settling down in the slightness?
TS: No way! Are you crazy?
Interviewer: What about these flying cars, who are buying them?
TS: Now that is top secret my friend. It wouldn’t be fun otherwise! But flying cars are only the latest in my new creations. I’m still working on the energy blasters I thought were neat in those sci-fi films. We sort of have to stop having the guns blow up on us first, before we get a working prototype.
Interviewer: Are you serious?
TS: Completely. All this fantasy you see on television, much of it IS possible. It is merely a matter of thinking up a way to go from theory to reality.
Interviewer: You never seem to crash and burn on the red carpet, so who picks out your clothes?
TS: A personal stylist. Otherwise, I’d be in ripped up jeans and a wife beater day in and day out. Are you gay?
Interviewer: No, my company is making me ask these questions.
TS: I thought this was a men’s magazine, why the < censored> am I answering questions about my clothes?
Interviewer: I don’t know, this is really lame. Here is a good one, what do you do to keep in shape?
TS: Well, I do a lot of lifting. You try lifting Iron Man’s torso to the table for upgrades. Still, I don’t go to the gym like I should. Mostly, when I’m in my lab and can’t think or work, I practice.
TS: You know, boxing, stretching, that sort of thing. Sometimes if you work out, your mind clears of the clutter and you can think more clearly.
Interviewer: I noticed you didn’t include exercise in bed.
TS: < Smirks > I plead the fifth.
Interviewer: I’m not the legal court system.
TS: The world plays at being my jury.
Interviewer: When considering the world, what would you consider your greatest contribution?
TS: Myself...alright, alright, don’t look at me like that! Seriously? < Censored> I could name hundreds of things that have improved people’s lives or assisted in our countries security. But when all is said and done? Iron Man. It’s an incomplete project too.
Interviewer: Iron Man? Why, and what is incomplete about him?
<< An image of Iron Man jetting through the sky with Stark Industries in the background. >>
TS: He is only half built. He was a hobby, a way for me to relax and just get away from things for a while. The fact he ended up as my bodyguard was almost accidental, but it was perfect. He does missions and brings data back for me to improve and upgrade the armor. The next suit by the time it is done is going to knock the world’s socks off!
Interviewer: How close are you to finishing?
TS: Only a quarter of the way done...I know, slow work for me when it has been a year since the second prototype. But I don’t have enough data yet.
Interviewer: Second prototype? What happened to the first?
TS: You don’t want to know….stop looking so expectant! It went boom, alright? Like, fireworks boom. You don’t always succeed the first time you know. It is called ‘research and experimentation’ for a reason.
Interviewer: < Laughter > Point taken. Anything special you want to share with our readers?
TS: You only live life once. I know there are plenty of articles that sway between praising my brilliance to complaining about my amoral lifestyle. If I die tomorrow, I don’t want to have any regrets. I guess that’s why I’m obsessed with Iron Man so much these days, why I’m giving him so much lead way. The legacy I leave behind, I guess I want it to be more than weapons and womanizing.
Interviewer: What do you mean by lead way? And isn’t Iron Man a weapon himself?
TS: < Awkward Laughter > Iron Man is a symbol. A symbol of protection and I suppose...vengeance. Not always pretty, but effective. There have been a few stories, not many, where Iron Man has interfered with minor crimes. Like a pawn shop robbery once, and a couple muggings. He did it himself, not as a representative of Stark Industries."
Interviewer: What do you mean by vengeance Tony?
TS: Well, sometimes a wrong happens, and sometimes, you just need the right amount of force to make it right. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t philosophical, but it gets the job done. Iron Man isn’t meant to fight armies. He could, don’t get me wrong, but that wasn’t what he was built for. He is built to protect the citizen, like me, like you. I’m not saying it is entirely unselfish; don’t try painting me as a saint yet. < Laughter > Still, he is something I’m willing to share with the world, without making them have to pay for it.
Interviewer: Is that why you won’t sell his tech?
TS: In a way. Also,I think I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night if there were tons of Iron Mans out there, no matter who had control of them. Trusting one person’s judgment is a show of trust, but a government’s [judgment]? Think of it this way, do you feel safer knowing that a bunch of countries out there have tons of nukes to protect themselves?
Interviewer: No...not really.
TS: I didn’t think so. Now imagine if a bunch of countries have a bunch of Iron Mans to protect them?
Interviewer: I get your point.
TS: I thought you might. It would take the world to a new age of warfare that would basically combine fighting jets, tanks and missile launchers in the hands of each individual solider. And what would their prime directive be? Killing their opponent, something they are paid to do as an employee of the government; to put it crudely, a license to kill. Don’t get me wrong, I admire our soldiers, their willingness to sacrifice for the safety of our country, and what they suffer. They deal with loss of limbs, death, disfigurement, mental illness and leaving their family behind to be shot at. I couldn’t do what they do. But Iron Man, he isn’t built to be a killer, but more like a shield.
Interviewer: So, you are a patriot, right? And how can you be a shield, when you are a fighter jet, tank and missile launcher in one?
TS: Yes, I’m a patriot. < Laughs > How you use them. I build swords for soldiers, just as my father did. Iron Man though is a shield. Be it my shield, or the shield to the lady whose purse he saved. Do I want to belittle soldiers? No. But I don’t want Iron Man and soldiers to be put together. They are two entirely different things.
Interviewer: That is definitely different. How do you think people will respond to this interview?
TS: Be pissed off. I think I’ve lived most my life with most the world pissed off at me. You get used to it.
Bluntly, I have never met a man like Tony. As we spoke, I didn’t know if I liked him, hated him or even respected him. He did allow me a glimpse at his lab where he builds Iron Man after I was passed by a security screening. There were pieces of multiple Iron Man suits, none complete, some looking comical and others appear to have potential. One he admitted to having done while drunk. It had a tail on it, which he then broke off. “I just wielded it on,” Stark said jokingly. Still, I was permitted to take one photo while down there.
<< A photo of Tony in ripped up jeans, and a dark blue wife beater with an impish grin on his face. It looks like he has something smeared on his left cheek, grease perhaps. Behind him are spinning holographic images of a fully built Iron Man. >>
While we were talking and joking around down in the lab, I mentioned Captain America. Luckily I was able to have my tape recorder down there to get his exact wording, though Tony kept his hands on it the entire time, turning it on and off whenever he felt like it.
TS: Cap? He’s young for an old man. I guess he’s the real thing, president even says so. Met him once, gave him a tour of Stark Industries. Had an issue with the strange flavor the coke had in the café, seemed real old fashioned. He wasn’t a moron though, just...different. I think he’s going to have adjustment issues if everything is the truth, I mean, wouldn’t you? But seems an O.K. sort, he was good company.
Interviewer: Good company?
TS: We talked for a bit and enjoyed the view from my penthouse. You know, chilling out.
Interviewer: I have trouble picturing Captain America chilling out.
TS: He isn’t a robot, he is a human being.
Interviewer: Point taken.
I couldn’t believe that for a moment Tony actually seemed angry. No one has really seen Tony angry before, and I have a feeling I didn’t want to. Especially since he was showing me a new arm for the Iron Man suit and how it sends out electrical pulses. It was pointing at me when he was explaining that Captain America was a human being.
The interview ended in his penthouse, which by the way really does have an awesome view over New York City and the bay. I ended up drinking a beer instead of hard liquor, but Stark enjoyed a dirty drink called ‘The Leg Spreader’, made of tequila, vodka, gin and rum. I have to admit, the name of the drinks Stark knew how to mix were comical, and I wasn’t the only one that thought so.
Interviewer: Where do you get all these names for drinks and how to mix them?
TS: The internet. Some of it tastes like ass, < Censored >, some of them are called ass. < He pauses. > I’ve never tasted real ass, just so we are clear on that.
Enough to say, eventually Miss Pepper Potts kicked me out of the penthouse to go home when Tony was just starting to get good and smashed. When I left, Tony was already inviting Potts to put him to bed, and Potts was busy giving him a piece of her mind. Let’s just say, she is a very, very scary woman.
They say the truly creative and intelligent are wired differently than others. After meeting Tony, I will have to agree. I don’t think anyone can say they understand Stark, head of Stark Industries and the creator of Iron Man. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why he doesn’t wish to settle down, I certainly don’t know of any woman that would really understand him.
Still, there is just something about the man that draws you in. Meeting Tony is like meeting a real life Titan. He may not be perfect, but he is impressive. You may not always understand him, but even when he is being silly there seems to be something profound hidden under the humor. Though I did leave wondering, just who is Iron Man and what is he going to do with the power Stark gives him so freely? Why does Stark trust him so much? These are questions Stark doesn’t open up to, or just outright refused to answer by shifting topics as we spoke. I wonder if it is Pepper Potts? Perhaps that is half in jest, but one must wonder. Then again, with how effectively she booted me out, I don’t think he needs armor to bodyguard for Stark.