Elon Musk: How He Became The Real Iron Man

How Elon Musk inspired Iron Man

In an interview with New York Magazine, Iron Man writer Mark Fergus talked about the formation of the MCU’s first superhero. According to Fergus, Iron Man’s creative team tried to conjure up the image of a modern-day Howard Hughes, but he admits, “I think people don’t know who the hell that is.” So, as this brainstorm happened in the early 2000s, who do you think came to mind? Fergus says, “Elon’s name was definitely in the conversation as the guy who grabbed the torch.” [1]

It’s stated that the actor who plays him, Robert Downey Jr., decided to sit down with Musk to get inspiration for the role. At SpaceX, parts of Iron Man 2 were filmed, and Musk made a cameo appearance.[2]


  • •The Iron Man creative team, led by writer Mark Fergus, initially tried to create a modern-day Howard Hughes as the model for Tony Stark/Iron Man.
  • Elon Musk’s name was mentioned as the person who grabbed the torch, according to Fergus. He served as an inspiration for creating Tony Stark’s persona due to his daring and forward-thinking companies like SpaceX and Tesla.
  • Musk is well known for his influence on technology and industry, plus having amassed an enormous fortune through different companies. He is also renowned for pushing the limits of what is feasible in the field with lofty plans such as colonizing Mars or converting the entire globe into sustainable energy sources, which inspired the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man being portrayed as a visionary businessman using money and resources to benefit the world.
  • Real-life personalities’ influences can help authors and actors make their characters more interesting and approachable while adding a layer of commentary on actual problems and occurrences, enhancing narrative-provoking thinking

Who is Mark Fergus?

Screenwriter and producer Mark Fergus is well-known for his work on the Iron Man series. Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark/Iron Man in the first Iron Man movie, which was co-written by him and was released in 2008. The movie was a box office and critical hit that helped begin the Marvel Cinematic Universe, earning over $585 million worldwide (MCU). In addition, Fergus worked as a co-producer and executive producer on Iron Man 3 and its sequel, Iron Man 2.

Children of Men, First Snow, and The Expanse are just a few of the significant movies and television shows to which Fergus has contributed. He is renowned for his ability to write complicated characters with strong backstories. The development of Tony Stark’s persona and the sources of his modern-day Howard Hughes influence were topics Fergus covered in his interview with New York Magazine.

The creative minds behind Iron Man

The original plan for Tony Stark/Iron Man was to be modeled after contemporary Howard Hughes, according to the Iron Man franchise’s creative team, which included writer Mark Fergus. Real-life Howard Hughes was well-known for his enormous fortune and power as a businessman, inventor, and explorer. However, he was from a very different era in time and technology. He served as the perfect model for Stark because of his outsized demeanor, but the creative team had trouble bringing the historical entrepreneur into the modern age of technology.

However, as Fergus revealed in a recent interview, the team also found inspiration in more modern leaders like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Donald Trump. According to Fergus, the character was inspired by an amalgam of real people — but none so much as Elon Musk. Elon Musk’s name was undoubtedly brought up as the person who grabbed the torch, according to Fergus. Elon Musk is a successful businessman and engineer who served as the inspiration for the character of Stark. By using modern characters like Howard Hughes and Elon Musk, the creative team was able to make Tony Stark/Iron Man more dynamic and relevant.

The rise of Elon Musk

The South African city of Pretoria is where Elon Musk was born in 1971. He is an engineer, an entrepreneur, and an investor in technology. He started his career in the late 1990s by helping build Zip2, an online software provider that was eventually sold to Compaq for $340 million. Then he established X.com, a provider of online payments that subsequently evolved into PayPal and was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion. Musk established SpaceX in the early 2000s, intending to lower the cost of space travel and enable Mars settlement. To contribute to the fight against climate change through the production and consumption of sustainable energy, he also launched Tesla, Inc., an electric vehicle and renewable energy firm, Solar City.

Musk’s numerous commercial endeavors have touched the technological sector and American culture profoundly. Reusable rocket technology has advanced thanks significantly to SpaceX, which has contributed significantly to the future commercialization of space flight. With its electric automobiles, Tesla has revolutionized the automotive sector and contributed to the rise in the popularity of renewable energy sources. Many people have been motivated to consider the possibilities of technology and the future by Musk’s lofty plans for SpaceX and Tesla, which include colonizing Mars and converting the entire globe to sustainable energy.

The modern-day Howard Hughes that the Iron Man team attempted to portray is consistent with Musk’s style and image. Like Hughes, Musk is a bold and aspirational businessman who has amassed an enormous fortune and power as CEO via his different companies. He’s renowned for pushing the limits of what is feasible in his field and for having a personality larger than life. Musk is a distinctive and sympathetic due to his quirks, which he shares with Hughes.

The impact of Elon Musk on how Tony Stark/Iron Man is portrayed

The fact that Tony Stark/Iron Man is portrayed as a visionary and ambitious businessman who uses his enormous money and resources to benefit the world indicates Elon Musk’s influence. Like Musk, Stark is a multibillionaire inventor and industrialist motivated by both a desire to make money and a goal to change the world. Additionally, Stark is portrayed as a man who constantly pushes the limits of technology and business, consistent with Musk’s standing as a disruptive innovator.

Musk’s impact may be seen in particular scenes and moments in the Iron Man series, such as when Stark first appears as a weapons maker who has a change of heart and resolves to utilize his wealth and technology to fight injustice and defend the globe. The creation of the Iron Man suit by Stark in the first movie, which he subsequently uses to battle terrorists and escape captivity, also fits with Musk’s reputation for harnessing technology for the benefit of society. A hint to Musk’s electric car firm, Tesla, may be seen in the new element created by Tony Stark to replace Palladium in the arc reactor called Vibranium.[3]

Elon Musk’s influence gave the Stony Stark persona a more modern and accessible touch. Even though he was a wealthy and eccentric guy in his day, Howard Hughes is not as well-known to the general public in the 21st century. However, Musk is a well-known and significant person in modern culture. His influence on business and technology fits nicely with Stark’s portrayal of him as a successful entrepreneur who utilizes his money for the common good.


In the beginning, the Iron Man franchise’s creative team attempted to construct a contemporary Howard Hughes as the model for Tony Stark/Iron Man, but ultimately found inspiration in more recent individuals like Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and Steve Jobs. Musk, Trump, and maybe a little Steve Jobs is how the Iron Man character was described in one New York Magazine interview with Fergus. However, Musk was the only one with the fun factor, celebrity vibe, and actual business substance.[4]

Howard Hughes had a reputation for being extremely wealthy, influential as a businessperson, inventor, and explorer, and having a larger-than-life personality. In creating the affluent businessman and engineer Tony Stark, the Iron Man creative team initially attempted to imitate his likeness. Fergus said, “I suppose people don’t know who the hell that is,” despite this. To make Tony Stark more accessible and vibrant, the team had to seek inspiration from more modern individuals. We also talked about how Musk’s numerous business endeavors have had a big impact on American society and the technological sector, as well as how Musk’s demeanor and image fit the bill for the contemporary Howard Hughes that the Iron Man team aimed to construct.

Real-life personalities’ influences on fictional characters can greatly impact storytelling and help authors make their characters more interesting and approachable. By drawing ideas from real-life individuals, authors can give their characters depth and complexity. When telling a story, including real people can help the narrative feel more grounded in reality and more accessible to the audience. Additionally, it can add a layer of commentary on actual problems and occurrences, enhancing the narrative and provoking thinking.

Keeping with his fun persona, Musk once tweeted before an important SpaceX rocket launch, “If this works, I’m treating myself to a volcano lair. It’s time.” Joking about being a supervillain.

Elon Musk: How He Became The Real Iron Man