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Iron Man was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby way back in 1963, but like most superheroes at the time, his true identity was a mystery within the Marvel Universe. Not even the Avengers knew each other’s secret identities, so only Tony’s closest friends knew the truth. To the public, Iron Man was Stark’s robotic bodyguard, which was loosely referenced in the movie when Tony feeds the press a cover story stating that the Iron Man was a security guard. Tony gives up the truth moments later in the movie, but in the comics, the bodyguard story holds up for many years. Eventually, however, Tony has enough of the lies.
Published in 2002, Iron Man #5’s second story “Out of the Bottle” by Mike Grell features Tony Stark returning home after going missing for two weeks. Tony tells the press he was injured on vacation, but the truth is he was nearly killed by the Mandarin and left for dead in the Arctic. Fortunately, a group of fisherman found Tony and healed him and his armor enough to fly home, but Stark still has to deal with the fallout of his absence. In an effort to appease the press, Tony tells them he has a big announcement planned, but when Happy asks what it is, Tony replies, “Damned if I know. I’m making this up as I go.” When a runaway car of robbers on the street below nearly runs over a puppy, Tony figures out what his announcement will be. He leaps off the balcony and activates his Iron Man armor, donning it just in time to stop the car and save the dog – all right in front of the press.
The way Tony gives up his secret identity in issue #5 is not unlike the way he does it in the movie – going off-script at a press conference in front of someone he had a brief romantic fling with (Christine Everhart in the movie and Rumiko Fujikawa in the comic). The key difference, of course, is that Tony had already been operating as Iron Man in secret for a long time in the comics, though he later admits to Pepper that he should have revealed his identity years ago. After all, being as rich as Tony Stark practically ensures celebrity-status, and a high-profile makes secrets that much harder to keep. At the end of the day, maybe someone like Tony can actually do more good from the limelight.
Tony revealing his identity after putting so much effort into maintaining the secret may seem strange at first, but it ultimately makes sense. For years Tony had been living a double life as Iron Man to preserve his own image and safety. Giving all that up to save a child’s dog shows that he has finally learned to put the well being of others over his own, which is the mark of a true hero.
Source: Screen Rant