Recently, as I've mentioned before, I've been re-reading all the old classic Iron Man stories. Reading these classic stories is a revelation in a lot of ways, especially looking at the early tales and how Stan established the characters.
An example is Iron Man. In his first story, Iron Man is literally making his armor under the gun. There's shrapnel in his heart, he's about to die, and the commies have told him to build him a weapon and they'll save him. Realizing this is bullshit, Iron Man builds his first armor instead which not only keeps him alive but allows him to break out of the communist camp.
That first armor (pictured here) was always something I remembered only being in the origin story. It wasn't decorated because it was makeshift. Iron Man was in his "golden avenger" armor, which is basically the same but colored gold in the next issue right? Not so. He actually appears in the second issue still wearing the gray suit. He changes it for a very specific reason: people are afraid of him.
This is a tiny moment, but it fascinates me for what it reveals about the character of Tony Stark. Let's contrast this with two heroes I think everyone is familiar with: Batman and Superman.
Batman would never have the dilemma Iron Man had. People being afraid of him? Good. That's what he's going for.
Superman, on the other hand, also never had this issue. People seem instinctively to like and trust Superman.
So here we have a hero in Iron Man that wants to be liked and trusted. But he has to work at it. It's not a natural heroism like Superman, it's a carefully crafted public image that he will refine further within a year from just gold to the now classic red and gold.
This fascinates me, especially as we look at the deeper flaws that have been revealed in Iron Man going forward.