Nighttime in New York; a time when all things are possible. The nine-to-fivers scurry home in cabs and trains, heading for the precarious safety of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, the ‘burbs. In Manhattan, however, no one is safe from the pull of the lights, the call of the nightclubs, the cool, dim recesses of posh restaurants with highly priced sirloin and highly valued privacy. Thankfully, for those who fear for their safety, there’s a well-tailored hero to protect us all.
Lounging in the back room of Pride, one such upscale bistro on West 53rd Street, around the corner from the Zeigfeld Theatre where story-high posters advertise his gold-and-scarlet plated face, multi-millionaire Anthony Stark surveys his protectorate with a speculator’s eye. Every booth contains a subject, every table an adventure. Stark, through various multi-national conglomerates has a very real stake in each and every seat; Stark International owns the restaurant. With a smirk on his face and a reasonably priced glass of mineral water in his hand, Stark looks like the cat planning to eat the canary — and who can blame him? He controls the largest corporation in the world, directs a private organization of well-armed secret agents, leads a powerful team of flashy, sexy, well-dressed superheroes and spends his days soaring through the air in what can only be described as a one-man guided missile, though a one-man guided missile with style. He’s also the subject of the summer’s most-anticipated blockbuster movie, already the second largest first-day debut for a non-sequel in box office history. On May 2nd, IRON MAN soared into movie theaters across America and around the corner from the Zeigfeld’s long lines and rave reviews, Tony Stark surveys his protectorate and dubs it good. TAKE THAT sat down with the cocky financier for a face-to-face to learn about the life, secrets and much-abused theme song of Iron Man.
1. WE ADMITTED WE WERE POWERLESS —THAT OUR LIVES HAD BECOME UNMANAGEABLE.
TAKE THAT: You don’t mind if I drink while we do this…?
STARK: Feel free.
TT: Because if it makes you uncomfortable…?
STARK: Look at me — do I look uncomfortable?
TT: You look rich.
STARK: That, I am. Very rich.
TT: How rich is “very rich”? Could you buy the New York Yankees and move them to Iowa, you know, for kicks and giggles?
STARK: That’s a Wednesday afternoon for me.
TT: Cool. Then… just so we’re clear, you’re paying tonight.
STARK: I’ve got it.
TT: Awesome. Because, you know, I work in comics.
STARK: Say no more. So… the interview?
TT: No, I mean it. I’ve been paying rent with the foil plating from old copies of SILVER SURFER #50.
STARK: Look… do you need some money or something?
TT: What? No! No… no, I’m… I’m fine. I just… well, maybe just a C-note for cab fare.
STARK: Here. With the compliments of the good people at Stark International.
TT: Uh… thanks. Hey, I owe you one. Let me buy you a drink or something? What’s your poison?
TT: Oooooh… my bad.
2. CAME TO BELIEVE THAT A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES COULD RESTORE US TO SANITY.
TT: So, let’s start at the very beginning. You were wounded in ‘Nam—
STARK: Korea, actually.
TT: —yet, the movie places you in Afghanistan at the time of your, ah, impending heartburn. What gives?
STARK: Well, the team felt that kids today could relate more to Afghanistan, what with what’s going on in the world today?
STARK: What do you mean, ‘what’?
TT; What’s going on in the world?
STARK: Seriously? Don’t you watch the news? Read CNN?
TT: Too busy reading comics, seeing movies and playing Grand Theft Auto.
STARK: … but this is the world you live in—
TT: Hey, dude. The world I’m living in these days is the world of Liberty City. Have you played that shit yet? Awesome. Anyway, Vietnam. What a senseless war.
STARK: Ah, it was Korea. Not Vietnam.
TT: Korea? Dude, You’re freaking old. Iron Man is old. What, did you have to start your first armor with a hand crank?
STARK: Rocket fuel and plutonium, actually.
TT: I bet you charged it up Ben Franklin style, with a key and some lightning, right? Right?
STARK: I may just take that drink now…
3. MADE A DECISION TO TURN OUR WILL AND OUR LIVES OVER TO THE CARE OF GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM.
TT: So, you became Iron Man. And a few years later, you formed the Avengers.
STARK: Along with the original members, yes.
TT: And that was you, Thor, Giant Man, the Wasp, Hulk and Captain America,
STARK: No, Captain America wasn’t a co-founder. We revived him a few months after we formed the team.
TT: Revived? Hey, man, I don’t know where you’ve been but Captain America never needed “reviving.” He was never … vived, in the first place. He’s been in the hearts and minds of this great nation since the Big One, according to my grandpappy. I’d think an old guy like you would know that.
STARK: No, see, I meant—
TT: Hey… in fact, weren’t you the guy hunting him down a year ago during that whole Registration thing? No wonder you’re so down on the Capster. Freaking commie. And here I thought, being a capitalist, you were all about the red-white-and-blue.
STARK: Hey, now listen—
TT: And now he’s dead. And you have a movie. How does that feel?
STARK: Captain America’s death was a tragic blow to—
TT: Hey, you don’t have to convince me, man. You’re the one who’s gonna have to get right with Jesus. And Thor.
STARK: Thor? I don’t—
TT: Well, he’s a god, right? And your friend? That’s some heavy confession there, man. Be lucky if he doesn’t dent you with his big ass hammer.
TT: No, Jesus. Aren’t you paying any attention?
STARK: I think I lost track back in Korea…
TT: Hey! Did you ever meet the guys from M.A.S.H. over there? How was Hot Lips Houlihan in the sack?
STARK: I never slept with her.
TT: Oh. How about Klinger?
STARK: … waiter? Scotch and soda, please?
TT: Hey, man — I won’t ask, I don’t tell.
STARK: (to waiter)… hold the soda.
4. MADE A SEARCHING AND FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY OF OURSELVES.
TT: So, what’s clear from the very first BATMAN movie is that chicks dig the car. Can the same be said about the suit?
STARK: I do all right.
TT: Sure, I mean you’ve been romantically linked with half the superhero community. What’s your secret? Is it the money?
STARK: If it was, don’t you think Bill Gates would be dating supermodels?
TT: Then it’s either the little devil beard you have going on or the Iron Man armor. What, is there a Sex Toy armor or something?
STARK: What —no!
TT: Why not? There’s every other frakakta kind of armor. Night Vision Armor, Undersea Armor, Hulkbuster Armor— which sounds kinda dirty itself, mind you—War Machine… why not Iron Dildo?
STARK: You don’t date much, do you?
TT: Do Internet chat rooms count?
STARK: … maybe.
TT: Wait — you Internet date? What, are you checking out Match.com while fighting super villains or something?
STARK: … or something.
TT: No, c’mon. Dish.
STARK: This stays between us, right?
TT: … absolutely, it does.
STARK: Well… I’m not proud of this, but sometimes… when in the middle of a fight… I kind of… sort of… put the armor on autopilot and troll AOL chat rooms for chicks.
TT: Dude. No way. Like… what kind of fights?
STARK: Um… the last time I fought A.I.M. about twenty minutes of that was me trading pics with some co-ed in Minnesota. It got… weird.
TT: Wait, I’m from Minnesota — what’s your screen name, again?
STARK: Uh… IronHardRhodey69. Why?
STARK: I said “why’?
TT: …uh, just in case, I uh… nothing. Okay, forget it. Next question.
5. ADMITTED TO GOD, TO OURSELVES, AND TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING THE EXACT NATURE OF OUR WRONGS.
TT: So how did your friends and teammates take it when you went clean and sober?
STARK: It wasn’t easy, but they were very supportive.
TT: When did you know you’d hit rock bottom?
STARK: Well, there were several moments. Finding myself nude in a Tokyo hotel room with several female Hand assassins. Bailing my Miata over the side of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier while in the nude. Vomiting into my original helmet while running around in the X-Men Danger Room while nude. Mostly, I was nude a lot.
TT: And then there was the intervention.
STARK: Which was strange, because you’d think I’d be approached by my friends, by the Avengers or something. But it’s extremely disconcerting when the freaking Radioactive Man lures you to his secret headquarters, you’re surrounded by your worst enemies and instead of the inevitable ambush asskicking, MODOK sits you down to tell you that he’s concerned.
TT: It probably made you want a drink.
STARK: Sadly, I had one. You know those beer helmet things? The ones with the two straws? I had one fitted into the armor.
TT: That probably makes you want a drink now. Warm, amber scotch. Cool, tawny, refreshing ale?
STARK: God, yes. Make it a double—HEY!
6. WE’RE ENTIRELY READY TO HAVE GOD REMOVE ALL THESE DEFECTS OF CHARACTER.
TT: So, last year you finally came into your own during the CIVIL WAR incident.
STARK: That’s correct — as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. I spearheaded the Registration Act and the Fifty-State-Initiative.
TT: And, of course, rounded up all of the Jews and threw them in camps.
STARK: —Excuse me?
TT; Oh, wait. That was the Nazis. YOU were the guy that rounded up the super heroes and threw them in camps. My mistake.
STARK: Are you comparing me to Adolf H—
TT: Well, you’ve gotta admit that it’s pretty suspect, taking people who are inherently good and peaceful—
STARK: Wait, they blew up an entire town—!
TT: —and the whole thing ended with the death of the American ideal, the passing of Captain America.
STARK: I told you, that was a tragic—
TT: AND I TOLD YOU TO CONFESS TO THOR AND JESUS!
STARK: Look, are we almost done here?
7. HUMBLY ASKED HIM TO REMOVE OUR SHORTCOMINGS.
TT: So, people say you’re a bit of a jerk.
STARK: That’s the pot calling the kettle black.
TT: … and, apparently from that last crack, a racist too.
STARK: I am NOT a racist!
TT: Really? Is that why your pal Rhodey ended up in a strikingly un-red and un-yellow suit of armor, the War Machine armor? A suit of armor that’s, I don’t know, built in shades of… dark grey?
STARK: Hey — I was wearing the War Machine armor before Rhodey was.
TT: And then there’s your cruel mistreatment of one Lucas Cage.
STARK: How have I mistreated Luke Cage?
TT: Why not ask the wife and child you’ve forced him to separate from by hunting him down like a dog?
STARK: Hey, Luke had every opportunity to come in and register—
TT: Oh, so now you want to register superheroes, Jews AND African Americans? Why not just put little numbers on their arms, Mein Golden Fuhrer?
STARK: Hey, watch it — I can ruin your credit with one phone call!
TT: Ha! It’s already ruined!
STARK: I also own nuclear bombs.
TT: Next question then? Next question…
8. MADE A LIST OF ALL PERSONS WE HAD HARMED, AND BECAME WILLING TO MAKE AMENDS TO THEM ALL.
TT; Let’s actually discuss the Twelve Steps for a minute. I assume you stuck to them?
STARK; Religiously. I attend virtual AA meetings and have a proud, empowering sponsor.
TT: Step Eight, though. Step Eight is the one where you have to make amends with all of the people you’ve harmed. Did you keep that one?
STARK: I did.
TT: Have you made amends to the Mandarin?
STARK: The… who?
TT: You know, the Mandarin. Dude with ten rings, dresses in robes. Tried to kill you. I bet you’ve beaten on him a number of times, right?
STARK: Well, sure… but I doubt it was—
TT: How do you know it wasn’t the hooch that made you do it? Was it justice that forced your hand or one hundred proof Jim Beam? And how about Obadiah Stane? Have you apologized to his heirs for his suicide? And all the people who stole your armor, all the people you hurt, beat and kicked around during the Armor Wars saga. You’ve made amends with them, right?
STARK: Well, I didn’t think I had to —
TT: Spymaster? Crimson Dynamo? Titanium Man? Man-Bull? Fin Fang Foom?
STARK: Stop! Stop!
TT: Hey, I’m just trying to get you right with the god of thunder.
STARK: Excuse me… I have to make a call… (cell phone noises) Hello, is May Parker there?… May, I’m tempted…
9. MADE DIRECT AMENDS TO SUCH PEOPLE WHEREVER POSSIBLE, EXCEPT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD INJURE THEM OR OTHERS
TT: So, it appears I owe you an apology.
STARK: Don’t worry about it.
TT: Yeah, I guess I never really made it past Step Eight.
STARK: Seriously, don’t worry about it. Let me buy you a drink. What are you having?
TT: Scotch, neat.
STARK: Jarvis! Two Lagavullan, the big tumblers!
STARK: Huh— Oh, I meant… One Lagavullan and a … one Sprite.
10. CONTINUED TO TAKE PERSONAL INVENTORY AND WHEN WE WERE WRONG PROMPTLY ADMITTED IT.
TT: So, you’re noted for being a flawed hero, a guy who saves the world but is all too human with all too human problems. What other flaws should we know about?
STARK: Same as everyone else, really. I put my fabulously expensive suit of armor on, one leg at a time.
TT: Nothing else you want to confess?
STARK: Well… maybe one thing.
STARK: I really, really hate Black Sabbath,
STARK: God, you have no idea! All day, every day! People coming up to you and doing those same damn chords, over and over: “DA! DA! DA-DA-DA! DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA DA!DA!DA!” Enough already.
TT: I had no idea.
STARK: I mean, how ridiculous is it when you’re fighting the Kree and space aliens are putting buckets on their head, swimming up to you and shouting “Dude — I. AM. IRON MAN.”
TT: But Black Sabbath…Ozzy! Master of Reality! War Pigs!
STARK: Do I look like I listen to Black Sabbath? Why couldn’t it be, I don’t know, Bruce Springsteen? Or Genesis? Or even George Thorogood, for Pete’s sake? Have you heard “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”? “I Drink Alone”? How is that not classic me?
TT: You make a good point.
STARK: Absolutely, I do. In fact, we should have one bourbon, one scotch and one beer right now!
TT: Do we need to call Aunt May again?
STARK: Nonono… I’m fine now. I’m fine. I just hate that $%@ing song.
11. SOUGHT THROUGH PRAYER AND MEDITATION TO IMPROVE OUR CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM, PRAYING ONLY FOR KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL FOR US AND THE POWER TO CARRY THAT OUT.
TT: So, let’s talk about the movie. Now, I haven’t seen it yet, having taken in a late showing of FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL instead, but it’s shaping up to be one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.
STARK: We’re happy today; let’s leave it at that.
TT: Robert Downey, inspired casting. But Jon Favreau directing? Did people think SWINGERS gave him the right to direct a movie about a loudmouth alcoholic?
STARK: Jon’s a great director and a huge Iron Man fan. Without his vision, this movie would have never gotten made.
TT: MADE. That’s another Favreau movie. Did you see that? Not as good as SWINGERS but it’s still got Vince Vaughan, at least.
STARK: I liked it.
TT: How come Vince Vaughan isn’t in IRON MAN? He could’ve played Iron Monger. Then you both could’ve fought over Jennifer Aniston or something. He could’ve beaten you with his iron chin.
STARK: Are we talking about the movie…?
TT: You, Robert Downey Jr., SWINGERS… dude, for someone who’s trying to steer clear of addiction you sure as hell surround yourself with it.
STARK: I’m in control of my addiction. I can quit drinking anytime.
TT: I thought you already did?
STARK: I mean… I can quit drinking anytime again. Like, if I accidentally had a drink, say tonight. I could have one and then stop. Again.
TT: Hey, do you want me to move this bottle?
STARK: NO… I mean… no. It’s fine. I… I like the label.
TT: Obviously. You tore it off half an hour ago and have been licking at it every ten minutes.
STARK: There you go, insinuating again. Look, let’s just talk about the movie.
TT: Fine. The critics are really praising this movie. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+. Harry Knowles, that tubby genius, loved it.
STARK: Intelligent geniuses, all.
TT: In fact, the only person that really panned the movie is Bernard Marcus of the Bronx Times, claiming ‘Iron Man: Spots of Rust.’
STARK: That guy’s a Skrull.
TT: Excuse me?
STARK: What now?
12. HAVING HAD A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING AS THE RESULT OF THESE STEPS, WE TRIED TO CARRY THIS MESSAGE TO ALCOHOLICS, AND TO PRACTICE THESE PRINCIPLES IN ALL OUR AFFAIRS.
TT: Any last words for our interested readers, Tony? May I call you Tony?
TT: So, Tone, with the movie out, a sequel in the works and the Fifty-State Initiative in full swing, where can Shellhead fans find you this summer?
STARK: Well, I’ll be working with Reed Richards, the Avengers and hundreds of others to save the world against an insidious alien invasion. The son of one of my oldest, deadest enemies will be gunning for me as this goes on, so I’ll be in for two of the greatest fights of my life. I’ll also be appearing on next year’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” opposite Patrick Ewing, Tara Reid and Lockjaw of the Inhumans.
TT: Sounds daunting.
STARK: Doesn’t it? Enough to drive a man to drink.
TT: But not you, of course.
STARK: … of course.
TT: Seriously, man. You’re a movie star. Kids look up to you.
STARK: Hey, man. Wolverine smokes. Bruce Willis cusses. So I take a drink now and then? What’s the harm?
TT: Ask your liver. Or Obadiah Stane.
STARK: Okay, we’re done here. Waiter? I’ll have a vodka tonic with a vodka back.
TT: Don’t do this, Tony!
STARK: I said you couldn’t call me that.
TT: Don’t do this, Mister Stark! Think of those you’ve made amends to! Think of Aunt May!
STARK: Think of how the sweet, sweet burning nectar will taste coating my throat before I strap on my iron pajamas and cruise the sky.
TT: Drinking and flying? For Thor’s sake, man — get a hold of yourself!
STARK: You’re touching me—
TT: This is the first day of the rest of your life—
STARK; Jarvis! Jarvis, he’s touching me—
TT: Break your demons, man! Don’t have that drink!
STARK: I asked you to stop—
TT: Think of poor Rhodey—
STARK: SKRULL! Swarm! Swarm!
(Noises; Later investigation reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents appeared as if from nowhere, tased the interviewer and manacled his hands, legs and mouth. As quickly as they appeared, they disappeared. Stark took the bottle, shot glass and tape recorder)
STARK: Now… I’ve got a date with my old friend John Walker…and I don’t mean the USAgent.
(Witnesses claim they saw Tony Stark leave Pride around seven o’clock, humming Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man.’ This taped interview was discovered three hours later on the abandoned recorder in an alley off of West 54th Street and the West Side Highway by a local street person. The man claims to have found it near the prone body of multimillionaire industrialist Anthony Stark, but couldn’t be sure as the overpowering stench of rotgut and sushi drove the man away. The street person delivered it to Newsarama’s hands in exchange for twenty bucks, a bottle of Cuervo and tickets to the Iron Man movie. Life is balance.)
Xeric winning cartoonist Neil Kleid authored Ninety Candles, a novella about life, legacy and comics and Brownsville, a book about Jewish mobsters for NBM Publishing. His webcomic, Action, Ohio, is running at DC Comics’ online competition, Zudacomics.com throughout the month of May. He’s written X-Men for Marvel, The Intimidators for Shadowline, Ursa Minors! for Slave Labor Graphics and Tales from the Crypt for Papercutz. He co-founded the Chemistry Set webcomic collective where he wrote Todt Hill. He lives in New York with his wife, Laurie, who inspired the story in this book, and is working on four graphic novels, two mini-series, two webcomics, a trade paperback and no sleep. Pray for him at www.rantcomics.com
All characters are ™ & (c) their respective owners. All Rights Reserved.
Take That! is a satire published by Newsarama, and is not intended maliciously. Newsarama has invented all names and situations in its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody (permitted under Hustler Magazine v. Fallwell, 485 US 46, 108 S.Ct 876, 99 L.Ed.2d 41 (1988)). Newsarama makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the preceding information.