Home  /  Everything Else: Article  /  The Real Life Inspiration behind Tony Stark

The Real Life Inspiration behind Tony Stark

By Say Peng  /  24 Sep 2019 (Tuesday)

The real-life inspiration behind Tony Stark? 

Answer: Elon Musk.

Okay, admittedly, Tony Stark was born out of Stan Lee's brilliant mind before Elon Musk was ever born. 

Tony Stark made his first comic book appearance in 1963.

Lee wanted to create a "quintessential capitalist" and modelled Stark's personality and looks after eccentric billionaire and playboy Howard Hughes.

However, when director Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr were preparing for the first Iron Man movie, they wanted to make Tony Stark feel real and so they decided to model Stark after Elon Musk.

Musk is the modern Howard Hughes. He is an inventor and engineer and the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company, and the co-founder of PayPal and Neuralink.

In his book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, writer Ashlee Vance spoke to Downey Jr about personally meeting Musk.
As he prepared to begin filming Iron Man in early 2007, the director Jon Favreau rented out a complex in Los Angeles that once belonged to Hughes Aircraft, the aerospace and defense contractor started about eighty years earlier by Howard Hughes. The facility had a series of interlocking hangars and served as a production office for the movie. It also supplied Robert Downey Jr., who was to play Iron Man and his human creator Tony Stark, with a splash of inspiration. Downey felt nostalgic looking at one of the larger hangars, which had fallen into a state of disrepair. Not too long ago, that building had played host to the big ideas of a big man who shook up industries and did things his own way.

Downey heard some rumblings about a Hughes-like figure named Elon Musk who had constructed his own, modern-day industrial complex about ten miles away. Instead of visualizing how life might have been for Hughes, Downey could perhaps get a taste of the real thing. He set off in March 2007 for SpaceX’s headquarters in El Segundo and wound up receiving a personal tour from Musk. “My mind is not easily blown, but this place and this guy were amazing,” Downey said.

Musk even had a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2.

And fun fact: Part of Iron Man 2 was filmed at SpaceX.

You say

Get Showtimes