Obadiah Stane (Iron Monger)

ironmongerfilmBrick89, I didn’t forget about you! I’ll finish the Marvel side of your request before Christmas, and after that the blog will be on hiatus. Let’s continue the list with the Iron Monger, the main villain from the first Iron Man movie. Portrayed in the film by Jeff BridgesObadiah Stane is Howard Stark‘s best friend and associate, and he takes control of Stark Industries after Howard’s death…as well as being Tony‘s mentor. He tries to kill Tony in order to take full control of his company, and he forges an alliance with the Ten Rings terrorist group to accomplish that. After he manages to reverse-engineer and upgrade the Mark I, he becomes an armored villain of his own. In the comics, Stane has quite a different backstory, as for example he’s never been Howard Stark’s associate, nor a father figure for Tony. Let’s see together.

Obadiah Stane was born in New York City, the son of the gambler and drunkard Zebediah Stane. Since his mother had died when he was still a child, Obadiah grew up with his father, living in poverty his first years. One night, when he was only seven years old, Obadiah witnessed his father boasting a “lucky streak” and playing Russian roulette…ending up shooting himself in the head. This event deeply traumatized the boy, who lost all his hair and became bald for life; it also affected his spirit deeply: determined never to become as weak as his father was, Stane decided he would have always had the upper hand in any challenge, never leaving anything to chance, studying strenghts and weaknesses of every opponent, climbing the social ladder over the corpses (mostly metaphorical ones. Mostly) of his rivals. In order to obtain and master this kind of “inner eye”, Stane dedicated himself to chess, becoming a champion at still a very young age: he learnt to obtain victory exploiting his own strengths, and understanding and using his opponent’s weaknesses…and not necessarily in a legitimate way. Once, for example, when he found another chess player who had an intellect able to rival his own, rather than letting the game going to a stalemate, he shot the man’s dog, so that his mind was clearly ironmongercomics1not focused on chess anymore: this way, he won the match. Years passed, and Stane accomplished many things thanks to his cold logic and to the tricks of psychological manipulation he had learnt; he even managed to become a colleague of a rampant scientist and businessman, Norman Osborn, and he helped him running his company, Osborn Industries, in its first years. When he learnt enough from Osborn about finance and business, he dumped him and founded his own company, Stane International, also taking some contracts from Osborn Industries and putting his former associate in difficulty. Obviously, Stane ran his company the same way he did with anything else in his life: planning every move, being careful to every detail, crushing every rival.

Soon realising he wasn’t able to obtain everything he wanted with financial maneuvres, Stane created the Chessmen, a group of armored mercenaries he deployed as a personal paramilitary force and moved as they were true chess pieces. After failing to acquire Stark Enterprises from its CEO Howard Stark, Stane tried again once Howard was dead and his son Tony succeeded him. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Stane moved to cripple his enemy: he cut Stark out of several business deals, making him lose millions, then he sent his Chessmen to assault Tony’s best friend and confidante, James Rhodes, to leave him alone; last, knowing Stark’s weakness for women, he set up things so that the Chessmen’s Queen, Indries Moomji, became Tony’s lover, making her undermine his confidence and sanity. As a result, Tony fell into alcoholism, and Stane managed to buy his company, merging it with Stane International. Not only Obadiah Stane became S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s main weapons supplier, as well as the supplier of a number of less-transparent organizations who could afford his product, but he also found notes left by a now missing Stark with designs of his Iron Man armor: unable to comprehend them, Stane hired a team of highly qualified scientists who managed to reverse-engineer Stark’s tech, creating the Iron Monger armor, an upgraded and more lethal version of the original. He was still thinking of whether he would have used the massive armor as a new expensive product to sell to foreigner armies, or to create an army of them to conquer a country personally, until Tony Stark himself solved the ironmongercomics2dilemma for him: the man had recovered from his depression, and wanted to retaliate. He had founded a whole new company, Circuits Maximus, and he had built a new armor, the Mark 8 (or Silver Centurion Armor), so advanced that with it he easily defeated the Chessmen. Since Stark was battling him on both the financial and the physical ground, Stane decided to meet him on both, and he donned the Iron Monger armor himself to face his opponent directly: only one man would have survived this clash of titans, and Obadiah Stane wasn’t surely known for ever losing to anybody.

Obadiah Stane is a ruthless and ambitious man, a narcissist genius whose ego is possibly the only thing matching his intellect. A master strategist expert in warfare, Stane is even more lethal with his Iron Monger armor: a battle suit made of Omnium Steel (an artificial, highly resistant and versatile alloy), the suit grants him virtual invulnerability and an immense physical strength; it also allows him to fly, to shoot powerful Repulsor Rays from his gauntlets and a highly concentrated laser from his chestplate, making it basically a powered-up version of the Iron Man armor. Bent on control, using people as they were pawns, Stane is the ultimate chess player, who uses the entire planet as his personal chessboard.

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