Genius. Billionaire. Philanthropist. Tony Stark is all these things, but mostly he’s the superhero Iron Man. Once a weapons manufacturer, Stark was hurt in 1963’s Tales of Suspense #39 (Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber) and built a suit of armor to protect his heart and escape. Since then, armed with an advanced exoskeleton jammed with weapons and high-tech gear, Stark has been fighting evil for decades. When he’s off the clock, he enjoys himself in every way possible, and that includes the company of many a lover. He’s been a multi-billionaire and dead broke, but the only constant has been his keen mind and legendary way with ladies.
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Tony is one of the most popular ladies’ men in comic books, known for bedding and romancing women all across the Marvel Universe. While some have been one-night stands, and others have been long-term relationships, there’s rarely been a moment when he’s spent many nights alone. Since Robert Downey Jr. made the hero a fixture of pop culture, he’s only gotten more popular with the ladies. CBR decided it was time to count down the most important women in Iron Man’s life… though it would probably be easier to list the women he hasn’t been with.
As a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora has become a hugely popular superhero, but wasn’t that big when she first appeared in Strange Tales #180 (1975) by Jim Starlin. She was the last of her species, adopted and raised by Thanos to become the most dangerous woman in the Galaxy. With her martial arts skills, she became that and more.
In 2013’s Guardians of the Galaxy #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Cory Petit, Stark met up with Gamora, a green alien babe at the top of his bucket list. Apparently Stark’s pelvic sorcery worked on her, because the next thing we saw were Stark and Gamora in bed together, where the only thing he had to say about the experience was “ow.”
Tony Stark is close to Spider-Man, but closer with Spider-Woman. Jessica Drew was a young girl whose parents experimented on her with a laser beam of different spider DNA, giving her the abilities of a spider. In her first appearance in 1977’s Marvel Spotlight #32 (Archie Goodwin, Marie Severin), she was working for Hydra as Spider-Woman, an assassin. She went on to become a superhero in her own series.
Spider-Woman and Iron Man had been partners on the New Avengers for years, but things changed in Marvel Holiday Special #2005 (by Shaenon Garrity, Roger Langridge) when Iron Man caught Spider-Woman under the Christmas mistletoe. They exchanged a kiss, along with other members, but it was implied in later issues that the kiss might have gone further off-panel.
13. MARIA HILL
As an enigmatic member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria Hill first appeared in 2005 with New Avengers #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch. She quickly went from Nick Fury’s subordinate to the leader of the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. During the 2006 storyline Civil War, Hill arrested superheroes who violated the Superhero Registration Act until Tony Stark replaced her by order of the president.
Hill wasn’t too happy about losing her promotion, but she was loyal all the same. In fact, their relationship took a turn in Invincible Iron Man #10 (Matt Fraction, Salvadore Larroca). While Stark was on the run, he met with Hill to destroy one of his hidden arsenals and the two of them started making out. She might be a little cold, but Stark was able to thaw her out.
12. THE WASP
When it comes to romance, Janet Van Dyne has always been known as the girlfriend and later wife of Henry Pym (Ant-Man) who shared his shrinking technology with her in 1963’s Tales to Astonish #44 (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, H.E. Huntley), but she’s not a one-woman gal. Tony Stark was involved with her, too.
That happened in 1982 with Avengers #224 (Jim Shooter, Alan Zelenetz, Mark Bright), while Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne had divorced. She started dating Tony when they met at a high society party and things seemed to be going well for the two of them, except he didn’t tell her he was Iron Man. Both Captain America and Thor complained about that fact, and Tony finally told her the truth and broke off the relationship. They stayed friends, though.
11. MADAME MENACE
Sunset Bain, who became Madame Menace, started out as a villain in 1980’s Machine Man #17 by Tom DeFalco and Steve Ditko. As the head of the corporation Baintronics, Bain pretends to be a legitimate businesswoman who made her fortune with advanced technology while secretly running a criminal enterprise that provides weapons and launders money.
Though Bain seemed to have first met in Iron Man Annual #11 (Roy Thomas, Tom Morgan) in 1980, that was retconned as the two just pretending to be meeting for the first time. In 1999’s Iron Man #19 (Kurt Busiek, Sean Chen), we learned that the two had first met when she and Tony Stark were at M.I.T. She seduced him to learn his security system, and sent her men to steal prototypes she used to start her company.
10. JUSTINE HAMMER
In the Marvel Universe, Justine Hammer is one of Stark’s deadliest and most ruthless enemies. In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Justine Hammer became an ally. In Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1 by Warren Ellis and Steve Kurth (2009), the world was recovering from the Ultimatum Wave when he found Justine in his private quarters. She was trying to cure herself of the nanites inside her body that gave her power blasts, but were also killing her.
She worked with Stark to track down his stolen technology around the world, and the two of them fell into romance. Unfortunately, it turned out she was working with the thief all along, Stark’s own grandfather. When Tony activated Remnant 242 (his own severed head from an alternate reality), it damaged the nanites keeping Justine and Stark’s grandfather alive.
9. JANICE CORD
Janice Cord was created by writer Archie Goodwin and artist Johnny Craig in 1968’s Iron Man #22. As the daughter of Drexel Cord (one of Tony Stark’s worst business rivals), the two of them were like Romeo and Juliet if Romeo had a power suit. Drexel tried to kill Stark with a robot known as the Demolisher, but Janice warned Stark about her father’s plans. After Drexel sacrificed himself, Janice began dating Stark.
That would have been a happy ending, but like many superhero romances, their relationship didn’t end well. While Iron Man was fighting Titanium Man and the third Crimson Dynamo, Janice was seriously hurt. She didn’t know Stark’s secret identity, so she died in Iron Man’s arms, not knowing she was being held by her love.
8. RUMIKO FUJIKAWA
In 1998, Tony Stark came back from an alternate universe that came to be called Heroes Reborn. While he was gone, his company had been taken over by Kenjiro Fujikawa, and his daughter Rumiko Fujikawa caught Stark’s eye in Invincible Iron Man #4, (Eric Cannon, Kurt Busiek). Rumiko started dating Stark, becoming a steady girlfriend over the course of the series.
Unfortunately, Rumiko enjoyed Stark’s playboy lifestyle but not his obsession with his work. Rumiko eventually broke up with Stark, and even slept with his business rival Tiberius Stone. She did get back together with him and helped him regain control of his company, but she suffered the same fate as Tony’s many other girlfriends, dying at the hands of Clarence Ward, an Iron Man impostor.
7. ANNA WEI
Armor Wars was a popular Iron Man storyline, which is why it was redone twice. The third Armor Wars story came in Iron Man Annual #2001 (Chris Claremont, Michael Ryan) in 2001, along with another girlfriend of Tony’s, Anna Wei. When Stark went to the country of Sarawak in search of his technology, he tried to save a young boy from a gang of local thugs.
The boy’s mother turned out to be Anna Wei, a brilliant computer hacker who helped Stark find his missing tech. He managed to stop the local gangster with a little help from her and the Avengers, the two of them had a brief fling, and he brought Anna to join his company. Not sure if there’s a rule about dating employees, but rules are made to be broken.
6. BETHANY CABE
Another long-running girlfriend came up in 1978 with Iron Man #117 (David Michelinie, Bob Layton, John Romita Jr.) when he met Bethany Cabe at a high-society party. The two of them hit it off, especially when he discovered she could handle herself as a bodyguard for wealthy clients. They quickly became lovers.
Unfortunately, this was when Stark became addicted to alcohol, but her allegedly late husband had been on drugs, so she was able to help him recover. Their relationship was complicated by the return of her husband (who hadn’t died after all), various supervillains, the death of her husband (for real this time) and even a mind switch with his enemy Madame Masque. Last time he saw her, she worked for him as head of security for his company, Stark Resilient.
5. MADAME MASQUE
As the leader of the Maggia crime syndicate, Whitney Frost first fought Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #98 in 1968 (Stan Lee, Gene Colan), but she became a greater threat when she returned in 1969’s Iron Man #17. There, Stark discovered she had been caught in a plane crash that scarred her face so she wore a golden mask at all times as Madame Masque. He insisted he still cared for her, even though she was disfigured.
With her father Count Nefaria, along with other supervillains like Obadiah Stane, Madame Masque kept popping up in Iron Man’s life, but she never stopped loving him. She tried several times to get back into his life, interfering with his relationships with Bethany Cabe and Pepper Potts, but always ends up heartbroken.
4. EMMA FROST
One of the most manipulative characters in the Marvel Universe has been Emma Frost, also known as the White Queen of the infamous Hellfire Club. Frost first showed up in 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #129 (Chris Claremont, John Byrne) as a mutant with powerful psychic abilities who became a long-standing enemy of the X-Men. However, she also joined the X-Men at one point because it suited her purposes.
With her skimpy outfits, Frost has become known for using her sexuality to her advantage, and that apparently included hooking up with Stark. In Civil War #3 (Mark Millar, Steve McNiven), Stark and Frost were chatting when he mentioned the two of them had an “arrangement” when neither of them were dating. It seemed they were friends with benefits, and might still be.
In 1980, John Buscema and Stan Lee created She-Hulk in Savage She-Hulk #1. When Jennifer Walters was hurt, a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner gave her the power to turn super-strong and green as She-Hulk. Unlike her cousin, She-Hulk actually enjoys being a Hulk and stays in her green form even when she can change back at will.
She-Hulk has had an impressive list of partners, so it’s probably no surprise that she got together with Tony Stark. In fact, in She-Hulk #17 (Dan Slott, Rick Burchett), she actually had a conversation with Stark about why he’s seen as a “player” and she’s seen as a “skank,” even though they both do the same thing. It would probably have been interesting if the helicarrier hadn’t been attacked before Stark could answer.
2. BLACK WIDOW
Natasha Romanov and Tony Stark go way back, and we’re not just talking about romantically. As the Black Widow, Romanov was a Russian secret agent who started out as a villain for Iron Man. With her combat skills and knowledge of spy-craft, she was a major threat, as well as a temptation. Eventually, Romanov saw the error of her ways and became a hero, even joining the Avengers.
All along, Stark and Romanov apparently remained active between the sheets, especially in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. In 2007, Ultimates 3 #1 (Jeph Loeb, Joe Madureira, Christian Lichtner), a sex tape of Iron Man and Black Widow was released onto the Internet and even on DVDs. At that point, Black Widow was dead, having betrayed the team, but it was still painful for Stark to endure.
1. PEPPER POTTS
Of all the women in Tony Stark’s life, one stands above all others, especially thanks to the Iron Man movie trilogy; Pepper Potts. She first appeared in 1963’s Tales of Suspense #45 by Stan Lee and Don Heck as a member of Stark’s secretarial pool. She fell for him right away, but Tony ignored her, even as his chauffeur Happy Hogan chased after her. Over time, Stark came around, but she switched sides as well, falling in love with and marrying Happy Hogan.
After leaving Stark Industries, Hogan was mortally wounded by the Spymaster in Civil War, and Pepper asked Tony to take him off life-support. With Hogan gone, Pepper returned to Stark’s company, even becoming the CEO in his absence. Through all the women in his life, she’s stayed by his side, romantically and otherwise.
Who’s your favorite lady who was with Iron Man? What other lovers has he had? Let us know in the comments!
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