Anthony Edward Stark was born to Howard Anthony Stark and Maria Stark, owners of the prominent US firm, Stark Industries. As a boy, Tony was fascinated with building and controlling machines. At the age of 15 Tony entered the undergraduate electrical engineering program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and graduated with two masters degrees by age 19. Tony went to work for Stark Industries, but showed more interest in living a reckless playboy lifestyle than using his engineering skills. At the age of 21, Tony inherited Stark Enterprises when his parents were killed in a car accident. Still lacking in business acumen, Tony promoted secretary Virginia “Pepper” Potts to be his executive assistant and left the majority of his workload on her so that he could avoid what he saw as a burden.
While traveling through Afghanistan after an on-site demonstration of his company’s latest weapons system for the U.S. military, Stark’s convoy comes under attack and he is seriously injured. Stark awakes to find himself bandaged and lying in a furnished cave, where a terrorist group is holding him captive. Yinsen, a talented surgeon who had also been captured, had saved his life by implanting an electromagnet in Stark’s chest to keep the shrapnel that could not be removed from making its way to his heart and killing him. Though grateful to be alive, Stark had little to celebrate since his captors expected him to provide them with the same weapons system that he had just demonstrated for the military. After some “persuasion”, Stark agrees to build their weapons, but instead begins work on his Mark I armor so that he and Yinsen can escape. The good doctor is killed in the process, furthering Tony’s reevaluation of his life.
After escaping and realizing that the very weapons he helped design were being used by extremist groups to terrorize innocent citizens, Stark decides to begin a one man crusade to save others from the horrors that his company had created. With that, he began work on the Mark II armor and his quest to save the innocent from those whom would do them harm.
His personal relationships also change drastically, as his three month imprisonment reminded him of how important Pepper Potts was to him. After discovering Obadiah Stane’s betrayal, Tony stops him before he can cause further damage.
By Iron Man 2, Tony is suffering from palladium poisoning and having to deal with the government’s distrust of Iron Man as well as his growing relationship with Pepper.
Tony Stark is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr in the movies. He’ll be appearing in Iron Man 3 and The Avengers.