Back in a pre-MCU world, Iron Man was not exactly a top tier Marvel superhero. The truth is, before the world fell in love with Robert Downey Jr.'s charismatic portrayal of Tony Stark, he was not particularly well known outside of the comics. So, in 1995, the powers that be at Marvel decided Iron Man was in need of a major upgrade.
In what was probably an attempt to make him more similar to Spider-Man, their most popular hero by far, they decided to reinvent Tony as a teenage character. How did they achieve this? Through complete and utter character assassination, of course!
The infamously pointless and nigh-on unreadable Avengers event, The Crossing, kicked off when it was revealed that, almost the entire time he had been working with the team, Iron Man had secretly been in league with Kang, the Conqueror of Time. While Kang may have employed brainwashing techniques to get Tony on side, it is quite heavily implied that these were not entirely necessary, as Tony seemed to be pretty aware of the shenanigans he was getting up to.
And what kind of shenanigans were these? Oh, mostly just murdering his friends.
The Avengers then traveled back in time to recruit a nineteen year-old Tony Stark to help them defeat his future self. By the end of the event, Old Tony is dead. Long live Teen Tony.
All of this was retconned fairly sharpish, and Iron Man became the fully grown adult we all know and love once again.
Jimmy Kavanagh is an Irish comics enthusiast and co-founder of Club Valentine Comedy, a Dublin-based comedy collective. You can hear him talk to his favourite comedians about their favourite comics on his podcast, Comics Swapping Comics (available on all good podcast platforms).