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Iron Man might be the most popular Avenger, but it wasn't always that way. Before Robert Downey Jr. made his defining mark on the character, Tony Stark was in a weird place in the comics. For the longest time, nobody really knew what to do with him -- hence the types of stories where Tony's suit comes alive and falls in love with him. As cool as he is in today's blockbusters, Iron Man had a long and awkward road to get where he is today. We've compiled a list of the most awkward bumps along that journey below.

 

5. Constantly charging himself like a cell phone

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Part of what initially set Marvel heroes apart from the DC guys was human weakness. Nobody can really relate to feeling weak around colorful rocks or uh, being powerless against the color yellow. But being short on cash, stammering around girls or watching some stretchy dude make out with your sister? Those are real-life problems. Still, Marvel struggled when it came to Tony Stark. How do you bring down a super-rich dude with an awesome robot suit? Evidently, by attaching him to an extension cord.

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Iron Man's origin wasn't too different than what you saw in the movie: An explosion lodged shrapnel near his heart, and he's kept alive by his own tech wizardry. But in the comics, Tony didn't have a self-sustaining arc reactor, so he had to plug himself into the when he ran out of juice. It's like he his suit was a piece of shit old Android phone that he got free with the contract because the sales rep said it was good but now it keeps dying at one in the god damned afternoon, I swear to god I'm getting an iPhone when the new one comes out next year.

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Imagine if these plug-in intermissions were the in the movies. You'd have long stretches of RDJ just sort of sitting in the corner by the TV because that's the only place in his apartment with a three-prong outlet. All of these cords seem to be like two feet long, so maybe part of the drama could be how long Tony could suppress his bladder before risking his life to unplug and go to the whiz palace. At least it sounds better than Iron Man 2.

 

4. Ultimate Iron Man is a blue boy with a bad soap allergy

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Ultimate Comics were an attempt to reboot Marvel heroes for people who grew up in an era without segregated water fountains. There were some subtle updates, like making everyone younger or changing Peter Parker's radioactive spider to a genetically-altered spider. Iron Man wasn't so lucky. After an accident that killed his mom, Tony was born with brains strung throughout the insides of his body. The condition made Tony's skin very sensitive, so his father came up with a special blue armor made of "computronium," which could be washed off with antibacterial soap. Here's a tissue, your nose is bleeding.

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That has to be one of the shittiest weaknesses imaginable. Not only can any Z-list villain take you out with a jug of Dial, but you have to be that asshole who asks what kind of soap they use in the men's room at Chili's. As you can see, a villain easily kidnaps Tony in his jam-jams, torturing him with refreshing and excruciating rinses of Irish Spring. Only later does Tony build his suit, probably because his life as a fleshy humanoid is a living blue hell.

This story was brought to you by Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game and I'm a Huge Bigot With Bad Ideas.