Characters in the comic books, especially superhero-themed ones, to say the least, die a lot. It does not matter if the character wants to fake their death to achieve their goals or die for real and then get resurrected, in a different or the same form. Marvel Universe does that a lot and the appearance of the Multiverse concept only propelled this trend even more.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically in the Avengers: Endgame, we saw the iconic character that kickstarted everything, Tony Stark/Iron Man, died to save the entire universe. Even though at times Tony Stark seemed like an arrogant and annoying person, his soft side came out multiple times in the Marvel Universe, and his death always hit hard. However, in true comic book fashion, superheroes are quite elusive, which inspired us to see if Iron Man died in Marvel Comics.
We will include all deaths known to us, the real ones, that were part of the storylines, and fake ones that Stark arranged to achieve something. If you are interested, stick with us until the end.
1. The Infinity Gauntlet – Iron Man Is Killed By Teraxxia
Since we are on the topic of the MCU’s Endgame, in 1991, a comic Infinity Gaunlet was released by Marvel and introduced us to the story of Thanos obtaining the Infinity Gauntlet to rule the whole universe. The group of superheroes Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, Adam Warlock, Silver Surfer, and others are trying to stop The Mad Titan Thanos and his companions, in this comic, Teraxxia who was created by the Titan after Death turned her back on him.
Teraxxia is essentially created by the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos made her his equal, which made Thanos even more powerful to beat. This comic was truly bloody and was nothing in comparison to the MCU version of the story. Multiple superheroes suffered brutal deaths and Teraxxia served probably the bloodiest – she ripped off Iron Man’s head and beat Spider-Man to death with the rock.
Fortunately, Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock saved the day, beating The Mad Titan, and his companion and Nebula used the opportunity to reverse the Snap. We warmly recommend this comic book series.
2. Thanos Wins – Iron Man Is Ripped Apart by Thanos
Another death of Tony Stark happened in the comic book story called Thanos Wins, released in 2017, where Thanos … wins. He spends lifetimes killing everyone in sight concurring the universes until he finally wants to stop and reunite with his love, Death. This is a compelling story of King Thanos, who now in old age, wishes to stop, after killing almost every living being in the universe to please Death. He drags the young Thanos from another universe to kill him and lay him to rest.
Where is Iron Man in all of this? Well, he is dead like the rest of the superheroes. In the comic story, besides young Thanos, The Fallen One, and Rider, whose story is narrated in that part of the comic issue, we find out that Frank Castle is the Ghost Rider of the Earth-TRN666, and stayed with King Thanos for millions of years. He is shown with the rest of the Earth heroes fighting Thanos for the last time, where the Titan annihilates everyone.
The story is quite compelling – Hulk is King Thanos’s pet, young Thanos does not want to have anything to do with the older one, Frank Castle’s Ghost Rider sold his soul to every devil existing, went insane after centuries of being alone and ultimately becoming a cosmic being Ghost Rider and all Earth superheroes are dead. Iron Man’s gruesome death is quite graphic as you can see from the comic panel above, and it only shows that the universe where Thanos wins is not a good one. This is a great comic book storyline that you should definitely check out!
3. Avengers: Time Runs Out – Old Captain America Kills Superior Iron Man
This was a pretty interesting storyline that came out in 2015, which was essentially the ending of Jonathan Hickman’s Saga which concludes with the Incursion of all different Earths dying one by one. The superheroes try their best to save their worlds but fail, and when Earth-616 and Earth-1610, the Ultimate universe start colliding, superheroes do their best to stop the apocalypse but in the end, proves to be futile.
In good Tony Stark fashion, it was revealed that Iron Man knew all along that there is no stopping the Incursion, and still persuaded old Captain America and other heroes to help him in stopping the threat. To say the least, Captain America was really mad and started beating Iron Man to the pulp which was quite strange if you think about the fact that Iron Man had Superior Armor, and Captain America was a ninety years old man who only had S.H.I.E.L.D. issued armor.
Regardless, the fight occurred during the duration of the Incursion – two worlds collided which marked the end of the world. “One Was Life, One Was Death” line was quoted and this line symbolizes the end of the once friendship between Cap and Tony. Everyone died, except the individuals who escaped the Earth by lifeboat. This storyline was a foundation for the future God Emperor Doom comic book storyline.
4. Avengers: The Crossing – Iron Man Betrays the Avengers and Dies
The 1990s of the Marvel comics were in an odd spot – most of the comic book publishers were, and because of that, that era provided us with some bold storylines that are discussed even today. One of the more controversial comic book storylines was the Avengers: The Crossing where it was revealed that Iron Man was planted by Kang the Conqueror in the Avengers to be his spy.
In this comic, Wanda and Stark are a thing, because why not and Tony getting exposed for his crimes is weirdly paced and at times confusing. To say the least, the fans did not love this comic book storyline, and the fact that the writers changed a few times during its run, is not surprising it being so discontinued.
All in all, after Tony’s secret, is exposed and all of his good deeds get thrown in the mud, the Avengers go back in time to acquire teenage Tony Stark to help them in stopping old Stark. However, even when he is the villain, Iron Man saves the day and makes heroic self-sacrifice, passing the mantle to his younger self, however, Onslaught, a sentient being made from Magneto’s and Charles Xavier’s consciousness full of lust and vengeance, kills everyone, including Iron Man. Franklin Richards saves the day, and old Iron Man stays in the Counter-Earth while his younger self becomes a new Iron Man.
The events of this timeline were retconned in Heroes Reborn and most of the fans thank Marvel for that, but that does not erase the fact that Iron Man dies in the comics.
5. Iron Man: Armor Wars – Tony Stark Fakes His Death
This old comic book series that started all the way back in 1968, brought us an Armor Wars story that appeared in the #230 Iron Man issue and stayed as one of the most interesting Marvel stories ever. We can’t wait for the storyline to be “immortalized on Disney+ but until then, let’s talk about how Tony Stark faked his death to conceal his identity. More specifically, in this comic book storyline, Tony Stark makes a list of the institutions and people who are in possession of his secrets and weaponry and goes after them.
In doing so, Stark, disguised as Iron Man manages to become the enemy of the state and become the most wanted superhero on the planet. To trick the government and other head institutions who put a target on his back, Iron Man deceived Firepower, the government’s agent in high-tech armor, and faked his death by putting bags of blood in his armor which was destroyed.
Of course, the government was easily deceived and Stark used that time to finish his new Iron Man armor that he used for stopping Firepower from destroying all of his factories. This storyline is really interesting and even explores the psychological side of Tony Stark, who is heavily affected by the Armor Wars and everything that happened during it.
6. Iron Man #242 – Tony Stark Fakes His Death Again to Save His Life
We all know that Tony Stark was a certified womanizer and playboy, and he technically died because of one. In 1987, in the Iron Man comics, this time issue #242, Tony Stark is fighting Mandarin, who imprisoned Tony’s friends, among them Rhodey, and blackmails Tony into a one-on-one fight – if Stark wins, Mandarin will let Rhodey and others go, however, if Mandarin wins, Stark needs to work for him.
All in all, the times are hard for Tony and he tries everything to save his friends. In all of this, a woman called Kathy Dare, Stark’s ex-girlfriend is trying to get back with Stark, who left her because she was mentally unstable. During Tony’s preparations for Mandarin’s encounter, Stark seeks help from Soon Lin, who was mistakenly considered to be Tony’s girlfriend, after she answers Dare’s call.
After the situation with Mandarin is settled and his friends are safe, Tony comes back to his mansion in California when he realizes that someone broke into his house. The photo of his then-girlfriend Rae LaCoste is destroyed and Kathy Dare is waiting around the corner for Tony, bidding him final goodbye and shooting him. This moment marks the “Paralyzed Tony Stark Arc” where he is trying to see if can do something to heal his paralysis. He fakes his death to experiment on his body more easily and the aftermath of Kathy Dare’s faith is grave – she commits suicide overwhelmed by the guilt of killing Tony Stark.
7. X-Men vol. 2 – Iron Man Dies By the Hands of Onslaught
As we already mentioned in previous Stark’s deaths, the Onslaught is a sentient being made from Magneto’s and Charles Xavier’s consciousness full of lust and vengeance that wants to slaughter the whole world. In 1996, a huge reboot of Marvel Comics occurred and the event started with the Onslaught storyline where X-Men need to fight against Onslaught and save the world.
To destroy the Sentient, the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four needed to combine their powers and ultimately they did, unfortunately, sacrifice their lives to do it, including Iron Man. This event kickstarted the Heroes Reborn storyline where the deceased heroes’ stories are rebooted and placed into a new alternate reality.
8. Iron Man Comics – Iron Man Dies As an Artificial Intelligence
To not confuse people, the new comic book Iron Man series started in 2020 and it is still ongoing. In this comic book volume (sixth), Tony is done with everything and wants to come back to his roots. He sells his Malibu mansion, buys one on the Lower East Side in New York City, and breaks up with Wasp. Stark is having an identity crisis and that is explored throughout the whole comic book series.
His confusion, depression, and will to die as a hero is a really interesting plotline that looks so much better than the event of the same name that occurred before the release of this Iron Man story. With the help of Hellcat, he tries to stop Michael Korvac who uses Gutenberg’s Bible to draw powers and rule the world. There is a whole cult behind the incidents and even Rhodey gets kidnapped. However, Tony Stark “technically” dies when Crimson Dynamo kills him with nerve gas that he manages to create by one of Mandarin’s rings.
At the end of the volume, Stark is seen connected to the tubes, almost dead, while Captain America asks Rhodey if he wants to join the Avengers now that they have a place open… Cap read a room! All in all, it was a really interesting story. Also, Korvac defeats Iron Man in their battle mid-volume but saves him and kills himself eventually. Yeah.
9. Invincible Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted – Norman Osborn Kills Iron Man
This comic book story from 2009, Invincible Iron Man, which is a continuation of the Secret Invasion event, where Norman Osbourne killed Skrull Queen and saved the Earth. He is now a national hero, and because of that manages to secure the spot of the new Director of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, Osborn is insane and Tony needs to find a way to secure sensitive S.H.I.E.L.D. archives and files to prevent Green Goblin from seeing them. After becoming the Director of now H.A.M.M.E.R. organization, Maria Hill and Tony Stark are now fugitives and enemies of the state.
Most wanted man in the world, after trying to secure all resources and hide them from Osborn, finally these two fight, and Osborn comes on top. However, Tony manages to delete all sensitive files, and with that, he deletes his mind to prevent Osborn from acquiring it. Stark ends up in a vegetative state, even forgetting how to breathe. Osborn in the end loses because he can’t extract any information. Of course, later in the comic book run, Tony is revived by uploading his brain back up to his body.
This comic book volume is quite interesting since it does show the consequences of the Secret Invasion, which we will also see in the MCU in the future.
10. Avengers: Civil War II – Captain Marvel Kills Iron Man
And finally, we came to the Civil War … the second one. Remember when in the first Civil War Iron Man wanted his fellow superheroes to register and work for the government? Well, now Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel kickstarted the second war. Namely, an inhuman called Ulysses can predict the future and Carol thinks this is a great idea to prevent the problems and dangers before they even happen!
Iron Man is against that idea, especially after his best friend and compatriot Rhodey dies and She-Hulk is mortally wounded and dies of cardiac arrest after they attacked Thanos prematurely, following Ulysses’s visions. He vows that will never happen again and kidnaps the kid. Of course, Inhumans attack the Stark Tower, and Hulk dies at the hands of Hawkeye (!!) and is arrested. Captain Marvel is basically unhinged in her beliefs, even after Stark tells her that Ulysses’s visions are founded on probability, not facts.
Civil War escalates – Storm’s X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Inhumans, Magneto’s X-Men, Avengers and so many more start fighting. The straw that broke the camel’s back is when Ulysses predicts that Miles Morales will kill Steve Rogers. Carol imprisons him, and Iron Man goes berserk. Captain Marvel does not back away and deals a brutal blow to Stark. Iron Man is dead in this series and his brain backup (as always is with Stark) is later put in a cloned body.
As you can already tell, Stark died a lot in the comics, which is not that surprising him being the staple of Marvel Comics. We don’t doubt that will happen again and propel another great Iron Man storyline once more.