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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Below: Tony Stark (Iron Man) calls himself a "futurist" during a battle with She-Hulk. Stark has increasingly identified himself as a "futurist" in recent years. [Source: She-Hulk #18 (May 2007), page 20; written by Dan Slott, pencilled by Rick Burchett, inked by Cliff Rathburn.]
Because Iron Man is relatively secular compared to many other major super-heroes, some readers wonder if he is an atheist. There is no textual support for such a conclusion. We are aware of no published comics or Iron Man appearances in other media in which Tony Stark has identified himself as an atheist or stated any position which can be interpreted as atheistic. Tony Stark has never been characterized as devoutly religious or a regular church-goer. However, the number of times that Tony Stark has clearly expressed religious belief (such as when he has prayed silently or aloud, or when he has vocally expressed belief in God), far outnumber the relatively rare instances when the character has expressed positions that strike some readers as the words of a "non-believer." Ultimately, Tony Stark may simply be too interested in other things (such as technology, futurism, law enforcement, his jet-setting lifestyle, etc.) to spend much time contemplating whether he should adjust his views on precise theological questions. On balance, Tony Stark has been portrayed as a character that seems to have a general belief in God, but doesn't give the topic a lot of attention. Perhaps he is sometimes agnostic (although at other times he has enough religious belief that he even prays aloud). But a more accurate description of Tony Stark is "secular."
Iron Man was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963). All of these creators except for Heck were Jewish, but in those times comic book creators such as these almost never created Jewish characters. Most mainstream super-heroes created at Marvel during the foundational early 1960s were based on an "all-American" WASP template, referred to some comics historians and editors from that time as a pseudo-Episcopalian template.
Iron Man was a founding member of the Avengers, the "mightiest" super-hero team on Marvel Earth. As one of the most consistent members of the Avengers, Stark has formed close friendships and working relationships with a wide variety of fellow heroes, including mythological gods (such as Thor and Hercules), devout Christians (such as Firebird, Living Lightning, USAgent, Black Knight, etc.), alternatively religious (Scarlet Witch, Dr. Druid) and even clergy or religious leaders (Moondragon, Black Panther). Steve Rogers ("Captain America"), one of Iron Man's closest and most long-standing friends among the Avengers, has clearly expressed Christian religious beliefs. Through all of these associations, Iron Man has rarely been portrayed discussing religion or differences in belief. Tony Stark has invariably appeared tolerant of religious differences among his colleagues and has never been outspoken or forthcoming about his own spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof).
During the "Infinity Crusade" (a Marvel-wide crossover centered on a 6-issue limited series published in 1993), a mysterious being known as the Goddess gathered Marvel's most devoutly religious super-heroes to a planet of her creation in order to support her plans for establishing universal bliss. Iron Man was one of the more secular super-heroes who were not gathered by the Goddess. The super-heroes who were not gathered by the Goddess included people who believe in God or have religious beliefs, but their beliefs were not as strong or as widely known. During the "Infinity Crusade," Iron Man exhibited a distinct lack of belief in religious deities. Iron Man stood apart from most of the other super-heroes of Earth: apart from those who were gathered by the Goddess as well as those who were not. His stalwart rejection of the Goddess and her crusade, while claiming that he put his faith in science, was pivotal in his becoming one of the heroes who thwarted the plans of the Goddess.
One of Tony Stark's distinguishing characteristics is that he is a recovering alcoholic. He has, in the past, experienced severe bouts with alcoholism that have contributed at least temporarily to the loss of his friends, fortune, and status as a super-hero. Stark has returned from the depths he sunk to because of his drinking, but his addiction continues to be something he struggles with. Stark has never exhibited any moral or religious compunctions about alcohol consumption, which would suggest that he does not have any experience within any of the religious groups that actively proscribe drinking alcohol, such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Islam, etc.
Iron Man has participated in Alcoholics Anonymous, a support group for people who wish to overcome alcoholism. Although pan-denominational in nature, Alcoholics Anonymous is a quasi-religious organization for whom belief in and reliance in God is officially a central tenet. It is not clear to what extent (if any) Tony Stark has an angoing association with Alcoholics Anonymous. In recent years he has been shown inviting Ms. Marvel to attend AA meetings with him. It is also not known to what extent (if any) Tony Stark has embraced some of the more overtly religious philosophies and teachings espoused by Alcoholics Anonymous. It may be best to view Alcoholics Anonmyous simply as one organization that Tony Stark has derived benefit from during some of his darker moments. Whatever principles the group teaches that Stark actually uses have probably been filtered through and modified by Tony Stark's own belief system. In no way should Alcoholics Anonymous be regarded as Tony Stark's "religion," although the organization may function in such a role for a small minority of its participants.
Ultimate Iron Man was published by Marvel in 2004-2005, as part of the "Ultimate" line which re-created and re-imagined classic Marvel characters. The Ultimate Iron Man series traced Iron Man's history beginning with the courtship of his parents, through Tony Stark's birth, childhood and teen years. The series was written by Orson Scott Card, a devout Latter-day Saint science fiction writer who is well known for his open, intelligent exploration of the religiosity of fictional characters. Even given this detailed examination of Tony Stark's family background and upbringing, written by a writer for whom depicting religious characters is commonplace, there was no hint of any formal religious affiliation for Tony Stark. On the other hand, the roots of Stark's alcoholism were explored, as were the origins of the enmity between him and rival industrialist Obadiah Stane.
The lack of formal religious affiliation for the Tony Stark/Iron Man character in the "Ultimate" universe does not necessarily negate the possibility that Iron Man in mainstream Marvel continuity had some religious background or upbringing. But this series is strongly indicative that contemporary writers and editors at Marvel do not regard affiliation with an organized religion or denomination as an integral aspect of Tony Stark's character.
From: "Iron Man" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Man; viewed 4 April 2006):
Iron Man was originally an anti-communist hero. Throughout the character's comic book series, technological advancement and national defense were constant themes, but later issues developed Stark into a more complex and vulnerable character as they depicted his battle with alcoholism and other personal difficulties.
Writers often portray Iron Man as a symbol of humanity's creativity as well as its frailties. He is often placed in contrast with his close friends Captain America and Thor, the former as a comparison between interventionist and cooperative attitudes, and the latter comparing science and the supernatural. Throughout most of his career, Iron Man has been a member of the superhero team the Avengers, and has been featured in several incarnations of his own various comic-book series.
Above: Science Equals Death. Iron Man issues #294 and 295, in which Iron Man confronts the violent nanotechnological monster known as the "Technovore." Iron Man #295 is a crossover to the Marvel-wide "Infinity Crusade" storyline. In this issue, the Goddess helps Iron Man during his battle with the Technovore and then invites him to join her in her crusade to bring about universal bliss. Iron Man asserts his faith in science over any sort of religious deity (the Goddess included), and turns her down. Ironically, the cover of this issue features the blurb: "Science = Death!"
Arthur Hansen, a long-time reader of Iron Man, wrote to us to provide the following information on 6 April 2006:
While greatly not worried about religion for the most part, Iron Man only had two "religious" experiences in the last decade or so.
He confronted the "Goddess" in during the Infinity Crusade crossover storyline, where he stated that he only believes in "science" and basically advocated Atheism or Humanism.
This story appeared in the Iron Man crossover to the Infinity Crusade limited series. The cover has a picture of Iron Man fighting the "Technovore," a space-monster created from nano-tech just before Stark's spacestation was destroyed.
Strangely enough, the Goddess saves Iron Man from the blast which destroys both the monster and the space station. She then asks him to join her.
He basically tells her to take a hike.
His later encounter was with an angel that saved him and Manhattan from a nuclear terrorist in a fairly weak story that did not directly have him confront his religion.
In recent years, Tony Stark has increasingly described himself as a "futurist." Some commentators believe that he is not using this its word in its normative sense. When Stark calls himself a futurist, he expresses his belief that he can not only predict future trends, but that he can also shape the future. Toward this end, Stark has his intellect, his wealth, and his status to change national and world policy in key areas, particularly with regards to defense and superhero policy. Not everyody is happy with what he is doing.
During the Marvel's "Civil War" company-wide crossover event (2006-2007), Iron Man justified his support for the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA) by explaining that, as a futurist, he could see that superhero registration was inevitible and that if he didn't help guide government policies for governing superheroes, then there would be disastrous repercussions. Many people, particularly those who opposed the SHRA, believe that Stark's own policies have had disastrous effects, not the least of which is the assassination of Stark's long-time friend Steve Rogers (Captain America) while Rogers was in federal custody falling his surrender at the end of the Civil War.
Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) articulated some concerns about Tony Stark's "futurist" ideology when she confronted him in She-Hulk #18 (May 2007). In this issue, She-Hulk has just learned that Tony Stark led a secret cabal of leading superheroes (Stark, along with Doctor Strange, Mr. Fantastic and Blackbolt) in exiling She-Hulk's cousin Bruce Banner ("the Hulk") off-planet to prevent him from endangering the Earth.
In this scene, Tony Stark once again calls himself a "futurist" and briefly alludes to what that means to him. She-Hulk criticizes his actions and says he is no longer the heroic Iron Man that she is familiar with, but he has now become a villain, comparable to Doctor Doom.
Below: Tony Stark battles She-Hulk after she learns that he exiled her cousin (the Hulk) from Earth. Stark has increasingly identified himself as a "futurist" in recent years. [Source: She-Hulk #18 (May 2007), pages 19-20; written by Dan Slott, pencilled by Rick Burchett, inked by Cliff Rathburn.]
Text from this scene:She-Hulk: You really think that, don't you? That you've got me all figured out? That I'm just some variable you can plug into your equations?! Stop using me! You sold me on your side of the Civil War, said we had to stand for law and order! So when did it happen, Tony? When did your precious inner circle appoint yourselves . . . as my cousin's judge and jury?! Talk to me, damn it! What gave you the right to pass sentence on Bruce?! To banish him to the stars?!!
A typical example of Tony Stark expressing at least minimal religious belief is in The Invincible Iron Man #19 (August 2007), written by Christos N. Gage and illustrated by Butch Guice. On pages 16-17, Tony Stark is about to confront the Hulk (during "World War Hulk") and he thinks to himself:
This planet "Sakaar" the Hulk referred to isn't wher we were trying to send him. His ending up there was an accident. Ever since I learned he hadn't reached his destination, I've been dreading this day. And preparing for it. I'd hoped this wouldn't prove necessary . . . and if it did, that I'd have more time. But I know better than anyone that things rarely turn out the way you hope. So you do the best you can with what you have . . . in whatever time you have . . . with whatever help you can get. And you hope -- you pray -- that it's good enough.
Speculation and discussion from: "What religion is Superman?" discussion forum, posted 16 August 2003 on "Captain Comics Round Table" website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=611; viewed 4 April 2006):
From: Mike Parnell
16 August 2003, 7:26 P.M.
...Iron Man is Episcopalian. He needs to be in a denominational circle that has an acceptance of drinking. But I think, and I could be wrong about this, he is also a Southerner because he comes from a background that looks at drinking with disgust, but has a hypocritical side to it.
Ok. That is my limited take on this subject. Fire away.
16 August 2003, 8:19 P.M.
Tony Stark is a born-and-bred New Yorker, through and through. I don't know what that means for his religious leanings.
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" discussion board, started 21 March 2006, on "Atomic Think Tank" website (http://atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?t=15563&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60&sid=6e1a6029528ee4ff56875971156c2732; viewed 25 April 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:26 am
No listing for Iron Man DESPITE the fact that he was the hero who stopped "The Goddess" ultimately because he didn't believe in Gods.
[This poster objected to the fact that a listing for Iron Man had not yet been added to this website.]
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:15 am
Given how many characters are in there, I (at least) am more than willing to give the compiler(s) some leeway in leaving out one guy.
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 22 Oct 2004 14:06:41
Out of interest, are there any comic characters, mainstream or otherwise, that are unbelievers? And if so, how do they tend to be depicted?
Date: 23 Oct 2004 17:59:07
From: Daibhid Ceannaideach
I seem to remember Iron Man saying somewhere that life was a process, not a substance, and when it ends, it ends. Which struck me as odd for someone who knew people that had actually been to Hell...
From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/e46638dbdaa8a219; viewed 22 June 2006):
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
Kurt B. [Kurt Busiek] has stated that Tony Stark is an atheist...
From: Andrew Furdell
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
Really?! When and where?!! Kurt, is this true? That's great... I never would have guessed it about him so much though. Well, he's into the whole technology/progress/nonmarital sex thing, so I can see that...
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
...And [Tony] Stark, I can definitely see as atheist, [with] his alcoholism, [and the way he is] very narrow minded when it comes to anything not purely scientific (see: Avengers v3.1-3), etc.
Either way, none of the characters [Iron Man, Reed Richards, the Hulk] are always portrayed in a consistent manner and sometimes they change their views.
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
Ex-squeeze me? His alcoholism? What in heck does being an aloholic have to do with religious belief? There are plenty of Christian alcoholics...
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
Kurt's not just whipping this stuff about Tony out of nowhere; it's consistent with earlier material.
During the Infinity Crusade Iron Man came face-to-face with the Goddess (Warlock's "good" self) and told her giant floating head that he didn't believe in God - the only religion he follows is technology...
Tony's specific disavowment of religion came late in the 300's of his own book, right around #391 or #392. His debates with the Goddess took place in the two issues that were marked with the Infinity Crusade label, one of which had "Introducing ... TECHNOVORE!" on the cover. Don't recall the other cover, though.
From: Eric Stevenson
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
re: "Kurt B. has stated that Tony Stark is an atheist"
Stark made that pretty clear in... maybe #290 or so. It was an Infinity Crusade crossover, and Stark got into an argument with the Goddess that indicated he had no time for any gods.
From: Jamie Coville
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
Didn't Tony go through AA?
If he did, then he's probably religious as AA is very geared towards making people who need help religious converts. One of their 12 steps says (paraphrasing) they the person has no power over themselves, only god does. In fact a large chunk of the AA 12 steps has to do with believing in a male god.
Date: Thurs, Sep 23 1999 12:00 am
Um, NO. I suggest you read a little bit more about AA before making such incorrect statements. There is NOTHING in the 12 steps about a white male god. They refer to "a higher power" something greater than yourself, but NOT "God." Now, for some people it's God, but for others it can be a lamp-post, just as its something stronger and outside them. That being said, there are of course "devout" atheists who are uncomfortable even with "a higher power" and AA has programs more tailored to helping those with that mind set cope. (for instance the love of their family/love for their family replacing "higher power", etc, etc.
From: "Religion of comic book characters" forum discussion started 17 March 2006 in "Media & Popular Culture" section on "IIDB General Discussion Forums" website (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-158938.html; viewed 10 May 2007):
March 17, 2006, 09:54 PM
This might be old, but I found it interesting,
Supervillains tend to be atheists, superheroes tend to be theist...
March 18, 2006, 08:58 AM
Guess who is an atheist superhero that hates mysticism, gods and nonsense with a passion?
He really gives a chick called "The Goddess" a burst about it when she demands that he worship her in issue ... uh somewhere round 280-300 I think. From memory I think he called her a "petulant child".
Iron Man's focus is on the improvement of human society through technological advancement.
Hoo-Ahh! Go the Iron dude!
Ha - found it:
(Iron Man I#294) - Despite his own death and rebirth, Iron Man remained to grounded in technology and the material world, and he rejected the Goddess' summoning. She told him that an imminent attack by one of his own creations would shake his faith in technology, after which he was attacked by the Technovore.
(Iron Man I#295) - After Iron Man defeated the Technovore, the Goddess again offered him to join her in her crusade, but he refused once again.*
She's not happy.
*Told her where to shove it, as I recall.
March 18, 2006, 08:20 PM
re: I can't find Iron Man listed anywhere [on the Adherents.com "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" webpage]
Yeah, I noticed that too. But take my word for it.
[This poster is saying that he also noticed that Iron Man is not listed on the page, but that he is certain in his own mind that Iron Man is an "atheist."]
One weird anomaly in the Iron Man story. Tony Stark is an alcoholic and supposedly "beat" his alcoholism going to A.A. meetings.
I think this is because the religious overtones of A.A. was not widely known, or by the writers, and was seen as the standard "cure" for alcoholism at the time.
I can't see Stan Lee having Stark praying to a rock somehow either.
Also he's buddies with Thor who's naturally got God powers and sh-- - but that's comic books for ya.
He uses terms like, "Oh my God" and stuff like that, but that's in the same context as, "God does not play dice with the Universe."
I'd say Iron Man is an atheist humanist.
In one story he did a scan of Omega Red, and could see that his energy-sucking power had some scientific basis, when I think a lot of people and characters took it to be something mystic in nature.
Heh heh. Omega Red can't work out why his death power doesn't work on IRON MAN in this issue. Little does he know that Stark is actually miles away controlling his Nuclear Powered Armour remotely from a hospital bed where he is half paralysed. Is that [expletive] cool or what?! Naturally Omega Red gets his own arse served up to him big time.
The remote armour was actually a really cool plot device. There is one issue where he's having an argument with his girlfriend while simultaneously engaged in a pitch battle against Ultimo, (a giant muther-[expletive] alien robot).
She comes in, (he's stuck in bed half-paralysed), and starts giving him all the normal relationship bullsh--. Meanwhile he's getting thrown through buildings and stomped on everytime she distracts him.
One of the best pieces of comic book writing ever. Issue #299-300.
Basically the evidence is that Iron Man thought even the weirdest sh-- going on in the Marvel Universe had some sort of logical explanation.
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
07-18-2002, 01:30 PM
This is a discussion I've had several times with my friends, and usually I step out of it when it turns offensive. (Which with my friends, it always does!) Thing to remember though that until recently, like the past decade, religion and talks of such were verboten in most main stream comic books. Now that's changed...
...Black Widow is an atheist. (That's a problem with coming from an atheist country!) And I believe Tony Stark is the same. (But James Rhodes is of faith, but what faith, I'm not certain.)...
07-18-2002, 01:53 PM
Oh, I forgot about Iron Man... Yeah, I'd say even more so than the Incredible Hulk, he's Marvel's number one atheist...
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
Batman is a confirmed atheist, Superman is Protestant (exact denomination unknown), Thor's [religion] is his own dad. Wonder Woman is Greek Mythology... Martian Manhunter is Barsoom Orthodox. Tony Stark's is Jack Daniels [i.e., "alcohol"].
From: "Atheist representation on the Avengers" forum discussion started 20 June 2001 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/avengers/view.php?trd=010620110715; viewed 24 May 2007):
Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:07:15 GMT
Atheist representation on the Avengers
The teams pretty well rounded now, but are there any atheistic members? I know Iron Man thinks magik is a load of crap, and that's only a stone's throw away from thinking religion is a load of crap.
In a country where the vast majority can't seem to seperate morality from religion, I'm not sure they would give us a believable character. I'd expect it to be dumbed down to something like 'Oh the religious were right after all, and I'm foolish for not believing!' garbage.
Oh well, one could hope. Maybe I should bring up Tony Stark's raging atheism on the Iron Man board?
Oh... and God is dead! ;0)
Posted by D-Man on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:10:53 GMT
Dang it Jae... You are way too obsessed about religion.
Probably the best comic you could find to figure out who believes in a god or a god, or have deep faith in God or a god would be:
The Goddess uses the heroes' faith and belief in gods and such to recruit heroes.
Here are a list of Avengers who are "believers" so are recruited by the Goddess:
Hercules (duh he's a god)
Spider-Man (which is odd)
Thor (duh he's a god too)
The so-called "non-believers" that the Goddess didn't choose:
Beast (although Beast claims to believe in a god, but Vision counters with "Obviously because your belief in a supreme being is not as deeply felt nor well known as the others.")
Quasar (which was stated in his own book)
Other Avengers I'm guessing might be "believers":
All other Avengers are up in the air.
Posted by Iron Centurion on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:03:52 GMT
Given how Alcoholics Anonymous revolves around the belief in a higher power...
...wouldn't Tony's long, hard experience with the bottle have altered his beliefs in God somewhat? He did go to a bunch of AA meetings, and still is seen there time and time again. Tony isn't exactly Ned Flanders by any stretch, but it seems to me that he isn't totally adverse to the idea of a higher power, despite his discontent with magic.
Posted by Kurt Busiek on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:37:47 GMT
re: wouldn't Tony's long, hard experience with the bottle have altered his beliefs in God somewhat?
Not necessarily. There are AA programs for atheists, as well -- they're written about in a book called AA WITHOUT GOD, and I imagine both Tony and Carol Danvers have copies, right next to the Big Book...
Still, given the hell that Tony went through during his drunken years... I'd imagine that his beliefs would somehow be changed. I mean, Tony went through an experience that almost no other Avenger can claim (except Hank Pym), plummeting from the top of society to the bottom due to his own faults. He spent months living in the gutter soaking up booze, and it was only the birth of Gretl Anders' child -- the miracle of life -- which shocked him back into place. While Tony was on his way to recovery by helping Jim Rhodes and the Erwins start up their new company, he had a significantly more Zen-like attitude, and while he didn't exactly find Jesus, I'd imagine that Tony became a little more spiritual from his experience. Even if he went through the AA Without God program, I still think that Tony would be a little more open to the idea of a higher power after his experiences.
Posted by D-Man on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 09:42:56 GMT
If Tony were "spiritual" in any way, he would've been chosen by the Goddess in the Infinity Crusade.
See my other post above about it.
Posted by IRON WARRIOR on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 04:52:59 GMT
Read Iron Man #295. Tony does not believe in a higher power.
Posted by Iron Centurion on Thursday, June 21 2001 at 12:55:21 GMT
Correct, but I'd say that Tony is agnostic, not atheist. NT
Posted by Kurt Busiek on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 22:12:18 GMT
re: ...I'd imagine that his beliefs would somehow be changed.
They don't seem to be.
re: Even if he went through the AA Without God program, I still think that Tony would be a little more open to the idea of a higher power after his experiences.
I think it's possible that someone could become more spiritual under such circumstances.
But I don't think it's inevitable, and I don't think Tony has.
Posted by The Scientific Adventurer on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 14:09:11 GMT
...As far as other atheists go, perhaps Iron Man, but I have no evidence to back it up.
Posted by Ian Watson on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 13:20:26 GMT]
As others have said, Iron Man has explicitly outlined his problems in believing in a supreme deity, although on other occasions in earlier comics he has been seen praying in moments of crisis as I recall. He does believe that there are unexplained scientific principles that are currently called magic, but they make him profoundly uncomfortable.
Re: Atheist representation on the Avengers
In my opinion, this issue is pretty well addressed in the 'Infinity Crusade.' The whole premise of the story divides all of the major Marvel heroes into "crusaders," and "infidels." The infidels were not necessarily dyed-in-the-wool atheist per say, but they did not have the faith required to be influenced by the powers of the villain (Goddess was it?).
I cannot remember how it all broke down that well, but the infidels included the scientific like Richards, and Iron Man, and hard cases like Wolverine and the Hulk. In general it seems that females were much more likely to be crusaders, and I am sure that the Black Knight, and Cap were amongst them. When the crusaders were gathered, they were drawn by images of various symbols which reflected their faiths...
Posted by IRON WARRIOR on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:13:35 GMT
Man, you're asking for trouble with this post, though I do tend to agree. But in Iron Man 295, Tony explains to the goddess chick (I forget her name) that he believes in science not deities (or something to that effect). I don't have the issue in front of me but I think that's pretty close.
Posted by She Hulk on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 12:42:46 GMT
In the Marvel Universe, magic is a fact and Tony is kind of more unique for his relative discomfort with that (Reed Richards, too, to a lesser extent). In the universe of the readers, though, the supernatural is pretty much all a bunch of malarky that doesn't hold up well at all under any kind of genuine quantifiable/verifiable tests. Tony Stark's denial of magic is sort of interesting and makes the character a bit more multi-faceted.
However, in the 'real world' in which you readers inhabit such skepticism about the supernatural seems to be the novelty and not the norm, so that's why people in the Marvel Universe who know magic works might look at Tony like a kook. Still, there are some who will believe in supernatural phenomena no matter what the facts show...as evidenced by at least one response to this thread. Where the world of Marvel readers is concerned, I don't believe in evolution. I don't have to. It's a fact. There is no 'faith' required. Every bit of evidence supports it regardless of what I might choose to believe or not believe. There MAY be a supreme force that set things into motion which one might label as "god" or a "deity" of some sort, but I doubt that whatever it is has little in common with what every organized religion thinks it does. There is no evidence to support it. In the Marvel Universe though, we got evertyhing from Celestials to Cosmic Cubes mucking around and you can just never be sure...especially when new writers come onboard with Big Sweeping Changes. I'd say Tony might be wrong in his beliefs in the Marvel Universe, but he'd be a lot more correct if he inhabited yours.
Posted by Omar Karindu on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:27:02 GMT
Tony's pretty definitely an atheist, then...
From: "How many Atheist superheroes/heroines are there?" forum discussion, started 20 May 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?p=3716053; viewed 24 May 2007):
05-20-2007, 06:23 AM
How many Atheist superheroes/heroines are there?
Tony Stark - who else?
05-20-2007, 06:24 AM
...When did Stark state he was an atheist...?
05-20-2007, 07:04 AM
Actually he's Christian. He says the "Our Father" in Iron Man #14 before he shuts down Hogan's life support systems.
05-20-2007, 01:32 PM
I assumed he just did that for Happy's benefit, since I'm pretty sure Happy is Catholic.
05-20-2007, 02:09 PM
All that means is that he was raised as a Christian. He did pretty much kill someone afterall...and as they say, there are no atheists in foxholes.
05-20-2007, 09:40 PM
re: Oh, and also: Iron Man isn't necessarily not an atheist for having prayed; he can simply been having followed the conventions of the society he lives in- much like atheists often are compelled to do. Conformity to social norms is a hard thing to break, and Christianity is, in fact, the norm of the United States.
Yet it was easy for him to break from the social norm of having the deceased wearing formal wear and being buried in a casket... I really would like to see what Millar has to explain that...
From: Keiichi, "Religion, politics and super heroes", posted 13 May 2007 on "Minitokyo" blog website (http://forum.minitokyo.net/thread/56752/religion-politics-super-heroes/1/#p1215679; viewed 28 May 2007):
Now with the Spidey hype, I was looking for info about our friendly neighbor and I found an article about the superheroes' religions here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/SpiderMan.html
and I also began to wonder about their political afiliation.
It was funny, but I disagree with the fact that Peter Parker is Christian... I think that Parker grew up in a Christian home... probably Protestant, but right now he is just a secular fellow that belives in a higher power, generally called GOD. Just like me... with no formal religious afiliation... and Democrat by the way.
About how many Jews are in the super hero comunity? well... I think that many of the wealthy guys that save the world in their spare time probably are Jews... except for Bruce Wayne, who I think is Catholic... and probably Republican.
As for Tony Stark, I think that his church is Wall Street, his god is The Money and he is probably Republican. But surprise, surprise, Captain America maybe is Democrat... and Protestant. Superman... Methodist and probably Republican too.
From: "Religion in Comics", posted 22 December 2006 on "Noble Nonsense" blog website (http://www.mania.com/noblenonsense/blog/136.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
...But I guess the main reason for this post is this question: Should writers address religion in comics?
I guess I'm mixed on this. I mean to some degree I want to know that my favored characters have some sort of spiritual side. Except I think it would be hard to have a religious belief in said universe. I know it can easily be argued that it could change my opinion of the character if I knew their religious affiliation. But in reality it really hasn't...
But I can see the argument. Would Iron Man being a Scientologist change my mind about him? Yes... I'd like him less... which is hard because I like him very little at the moment...
From: "Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes" forum discussion, started 17 November 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-152692.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
11-17-2006, 05:19 PM
Dang, the Legion of Methodist Super-Heroes gets Superboy, Supergirl and Superman
...and the Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes... uh, The Atheist
11-17-2006, 11:30 PM
I think you can add Tony Stark, Mike, given his stance on all things supernatural. Still not SURE, though.
11-17-2006, 11:31 PM
Makes sense. I could see Tony as an Atheist.
11-17-2006, 11:47 PM
Looked on the list and they listed him as secular and/or agnostic/technologist. Heh, I'm sorry, could you be a little more vague? :)
11-18-2006, 12:13 AM
And what the hell is a technologist? A lot of the stuff on this list makes little sense or just plain made up.
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
fHerald of Asgard
12-13-2005, 06:56 PM
I think Tony Stark might be [Jewish]. Not sure though.
12-13-2005, 09:27 PM
I think Tony Stark has the resident country-club playboy thing going which is more of a WASP [White Anglo-Saxon Protestant] than a Jewish streotype...
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):
post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM
I found this great resource entirely by accident:
post Mar 13 2007, 02:01 PM
re: ...Batman is an Atheist, I love the dichotomy, he has fought with gods, and has BATTLED Angels, yet he chooses not to believe.
And hey, Iron Man's worked with Thor for years. Doesn't mean he's gonna convert to... uh, Odinism or whatever.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
03-10-2007, 10:46 AM
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
03-10-2007, 01:52 PM
Is Tony Starks religion, Money?
From: "Jews and Catholics rule" forum discussion, started 9 July 2006 on "Pop Culture Shock" website (http://www.popcultureshock.com/pcs/forums/showthread.php?t=13549; viewed 28 June 2007):
07-09-2006, 09:18 PM
Default Jews and Catholics rule. [By this, the poster means that Catholics and Jews have the most representation among comic book superheroes.]
The Mormons are rocking out too!
(Fastest growing religion though, I hear, so I guess they deserve the reppin [i.e., representation].)
But the Muslims (22% of the world), the Hindu (15% of the world), the Sikhs (totally typecast as supporting characters only!), Confucianists (7% of the planet), (and Athiests/Agnostics (17% of the world and growing fast!) all get the raw deal from comics:
Also be sure to check out the individual portraits. (i.e.: Superman is a Methodist but Lois is Catholic, Power Pack were all Mormons, Wolverine's a Buddhist, and Colossus, Booster Gold, and Iron Man are atheists. Their practices and more are described here:
Despite the name of the page in the following source, it is not clear how "authoritative" this source is. This appears to be simply the viewpoint of one dedicated comic book fan. From: Jim Trabold, "Ultimate Marvel Handbook #19: (174)", posted 21 July 2006 in "Comics Nexus" section of "Inside Pulse" website (http://www.insidepulse.com/article_v3.php?contentid=49881; viewed 17 July 2007):
Hello everyone I'm Jim Trabold welcome to the Ultimate Marvel Handbook.
Hey Daron how are you today bud?
I'm pretty good. I'm curious though if anyone reading this column doesn't know who you are? I just find it interesting that you introduce yourself every week. I wonder if you're trying to reach the same mythic "new" readers that the comic industry is always preaching about.
I'm good. I'm missing out on SDCC but I'll make up for it next year. I still plan on reading the news and all coming from the con though. Can't wait for WW Chicago now.
Oh sure, you're gonna go to Chicago this year, and I can't make it.
Yeah that's enough con talk for now lol. Let's start.
[Question] 18 - I know that in DC, Batman (rumored), Atom, Starman, Booster Gold and Mr. Terrific are atheists, besides Wolverine and Hulk who else in Marvel is also confirmed or considered as the same?
[Answer:] Wolverine and Hulk actually do have faith in religion in their own manors. Hulk would be Bruce's religion Catholic and Wolverine was for a while but now is Buddhist.
As for confirmed atheists:
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 23 July 2007):
Posted by Corn Stone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 05:11:29 GMT
Question for other atheists. Are there any? :-)
How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?
And a sort of put-yourself-in-the-shoes - Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had? (Not counting Green Arrow, Barry Allen and folk who have been to Heaven, if their experiences are to be believed. And they are - this is the DCU cosmology.)
I doubt very much I would call myself an atheist, if, say, I was a member of the JLA or JSA and had some of these experiences.
Posted by tolsvar on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 00:30:12 GMT
Ok, so I wasn't going to go there, as I feel this subject does tend to walk a very fine line between "giving you an answer" and "getting too preachy". Then I read some other posts and thought "what the heck, I'll bore everyone with my opinion!"
First, I'm not an atheist, but I'm not part of any established religion either. I have my set of beliefs, formed by rationalizing what I know with what I believe. It's a fine line of science and faith, and it works for me.
If I lived in the DC Universe and saw things like people coming back from the dead, the Spectre and people like Dr Fate and the like, I don't think I'd have that hard of time fitting all that into what I believe. Someone like Zauriel (if I spelled his name right), who claims to be an angel, would be tough to understand. I would have a hard time believing that he was what he said he was, because of my views on what a supreme being is and does.
Situations like Donna Troia coming back from the dead, not so hard to understand because of what I believe. Unlikely? YEAH! But I wouldn't dismiss it.
Even someone like Wonder Woman, with her ties to Greek Mythology and their gods, could be understood based on my views on things. I could believe in someone like Zeus existing, I just wouldn't feel they were meant to be worshipped as they were back in the day.
Other dimensions, the little "hells" that sprinkle themselves across comic book universes, would be a curiousity to me, and I would definitely want to learn more to see how, if at all, they fit-in with what I believed. If my beliefs needed to be changed in order to accomodate what I learned, that's fine... I'm open-minded enough and certainly don't think so much of myself as to believe I have all the answers, not in the DC Universe!
Someone like Mr Terrific and Iron Man in the Marvel Universe are supposed to be portrayed as scientists, but I doubt the comic writers understand, truly, what it is that makes a scientific-minded person tick. They don't go through life doubting everything, they merely seek true answers to questions they have, and rarely take anything on faith. Based on what Terrific has been through, I'ld say his religious views are more complex than what we think they are. Iron Man should be the same way, but Marvel gets hung-up on showing how much he hates magic because he "doesn't understand it" and "it's not science". Seriously, hasn't he been hanging around Scarlet Witch long enough to have figured magic out by now?
So, in a nutshell, my faith in what I believe wouldn't be shattered or even shaken a little. Without a doubt, some of my more complex questions would be answered living in a world of superheroes and spirits of vengeance, but it would hardly make me over-haul everything I felt was true about life and why I'm here.