Posted by: vanhoff | April 20, 2008

Iron Man and Vietnam- Stan Lee

     For Stan Lee, the Vietnam War had purpose in 1963, and that purpose was revealed within his new character, Iron Man. The introduction of Iron Man in “Iron Man is Born,” reveals a character that is strong and is among the wealthiest in the United States. The character Iron Man is Anthony Stark, a multi-millionaire portrayed as a playboy, a man of strong stature and business savvy. Anthony Stark is the quintessential hero for the building of a strong arms race against the Soviet Union that is hidden within Stan Lee’s introduction. Stark is portrayed as a supporter for the Vietnam War and as a scientist in developing military defense systems to beat those “Commies.”

            Stan Lee in his first comic gives Anthony Stark a militaristic face. He is proud to be serving his country, and willing to help destroy the communist party at any cost. The reader is drawn to the new character by the strong face that Stan Lee gives Anthony Stark. The reader is then taken to Vietnam and is shown the abuse of a dictator by the name of Wong-Chu, who is a red tyrant for the North Vietnamese. The reader is then enveloped in the injustice that this Red dictator has portrayed. When Stark is captured, the communists learn of his great military skill and take full advantage to this fact.

            However once wounded and given new life by his Iron Man physique, he is further transformed into an American bad ass finally defeating Wong-Chu who has created catastrophe within the realms of moral justice. Wong-Chu’s character represents Ho Chi Minh. A ruthless dictator who has betrayed Americans and all that we stand for. Clark now Iron Man, is the United States military with strong beliefs and a “we can” attitude to defeat the communist enemies.

            However in the 1975 Iron Man comic we see a transformation within Iron Man. For the reader sees Anthony Clark as a businessman burdened by his past. Stan Lee does not portray Iron Man as weak, rather a man of compassion. Iron Man is shown in battle, however we never see Anthony Clark’s face only Iron Man. Lee portrays Iron Man in the second comic book as optimistic after he encounters months of battle. The reader sees Iron Man sympathetic as a blind communist tries to shoot at him. Iron Man tears up as the blind boy has lost his home and Iron Man simply writes “WHY” as his last statement. Iron Man feels lost within himself as if he never took that moral inventory that one needs ever so often. For further readings about Stan Lee



  1. Liked what you said. That’s what I loved about those Marvel Age books, the social relevance. Stan Made Tony a metaphor for the US, loosing it’s way and not taking “that moral inventory.”

    I posted an appreciation of Stan on my blog that you might like. Check it out if you want. ‘Nuff said.

  2. Read your blog..!
    Stan Lee is just amazing

  3. […] weapons might be doing to Vietnamese peasants. Eventually, as the Vietnam War became less popular, he got an update. So, how is he updated now, post-9/11? Ambivalently. Weapons manufacturing is shady, but the U.S. […]

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