In Afghanistan’s Kunar province, an American military convoy escorting weapons manufacturing tycoon Tony Stark, son of deceased weapons developer Howard Stark, comes under attack, leaving the industrialist seriously wounded by shrapnel in his chest. Thirty-six hours earlier, in Las Vegas, Tony, a suma cum laude M.I.T. graduate, computer genius and brilliant designer-technician, is to receive an honorary award for Stark Industries’ work in advanced robotic weaponry. When Tony does not appear to receive the award, it is accepted by his father’s, and now Tony’s, business partner, Obadiah “Obie” Stane. Locating Tony at the craps table with several attractive women, Tony’s close friend, Air Force colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes unsuccessfully urges him to ready himself for the upcoming Middle East trip. Later, after reporter Christine Everhart accuses Tony of taking pleasure in being a “merchant of death,” Tony flies her back to his lavish, modern mansion in the Malibu Hills outside Los Angeles, where they have sex. The next morning, Tony’s faithful assistant, Pepper Potts, finds him tinkering with one of his many sports cars in his expansive basement workshop, and reminds him that he must fly to Afghanistan to demonstrate the new Stark Industries Jericho missile to a military committee. In Afghanistan after the attack on the convoy, Tony awakens in a cave attached to a car battery that powers an electro magnet inside his chest to prevent the last bits of shrapnel from piercing his heart. He learns that the mechanism was devised and implanted by fellow captor Dr. Ho Yinsen, who explains that he and Tony are being held by a group of Afghan insurgents known as the Ten Rings. When the group’s commander, Abu Bakaar, demands that Tony recreate the potent Jericho missile using the vast arsenal of Stark Industries weaponry they have compiled, Tony refuses and is tortured. Later, after a hostage video of Tony is made for the news media, he then agrees to construct the missile with the stipulation that Yinsen assist him. Although the insurgents watch Tony and Yinsen work via cameras, they are unaware that Tony is creating a hand-sized three giga-jewel version of an arc reactor, which will power the electro-magnet in his chest indefinitely. Tony then secretly shows Yinsen plans that he has drawn up for a spectacular metal suit constructed from the armaments, which have fire power and sophisticated alloys that will protect him during a breakout. Having been provided with computers to assist in his work, Tony also designs a software program that will allow him to control the suit’s weaponry and flight controls. Over the next three months, the pair works on the suit until Raza, the leader of the Ten Rings, grows suspicious of the oddly shaped metal parts and demands that Tony complete the Jericho by the following day. Forced to move up his escape attempt before the suit is tested, Tony dons the metal ensemble with Yinsen’s help and breaks out of the cave, easily destroying his opponents as the suit deflects their firepower. After Yinsen sacrifices himself to buy him time, Tony gains access to the courtyard and blows up the munitions dump before activating the suit to launch himself out into the desert. As he crashes into the sand, the suit absorbs the impact and breaks apart, leaving Tony stumbling through the desert until he is picked up by an American military rescue party led by Rhodey. Welcomed back home by a jubilant Obie and relieved Pepper, Tony holds a press conference to announce that his experience has prompted him to have serious misgivings about his munitions work. Tony then shocks the press and Obie by declaring that he has more to offer the world than destruction and announcing that he is shutting down Stark Industries weapons manufacturing immediately. Afterward, Obie pleads with Tony to accept that they are practical “iron mongers,” and although he scoffs at Tony’s plan to further develop arc reactor technology, he asks to see the mini reactor embedded in Tony’s chest. A few days later, having made a more sophisticated version of the mini reactor, Tony asks the uncomfortable Pepper to help switch out the earlier model in his chest. Meanwhile, in the Afghan desert, Raza and his men collect the remains of Tony’s metal suit and attempt to reconstruct it. Over the next several weeks, except for sporadic visits by Pepper, Tony remains alone in his shop where, with his ultra-sophisticated computer, nicknamed Jarvis, and various robot assistants, he develops a sleeker model of the metal suit. After several practice attempts at using the rockets’ thrusters, Tony dons the suit and, with Jarvis’ program in the helmet to guide him, takes a test flight over Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Later, back in his shop, Tony is amused when Pepper, pleased by his change of heart regarding munitions, presents him with the original mini arc reactor, in a special, engraved glass case. One evening, Tony attends the opening of a benefit party bearing his name, and is approached by Agent Philip Coulson from the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, SHIELD, who asks to debrief Tony on his kidnapping. Distracted by the sight of an elegantly attired Pepper, Tony leaves Coulson to ask Pepper to dance. Startled, Pepper grows uncomfortable during their dance and explains that Tony’s well-known playboy reputation will undermine her credibility with their business associates if she is seen in an intimate situation with him. At the bar, Tony runs into Christine, who demands an explanation for Stark Industries’ involvement in the recent insurgent attack on the Afghan village of Gulmira. Recalling that Gulmira was Yinsen’s home town, as well as being near where they were held hostage, Tony returns to his shop to make some final tests on the suit, then dons it to fly in it to Afghanistan. Tony arrives in Gulmira in time to intervene in an attack by Abu Bakaar and the Ten Rings, and afterward destroys another arsenal filled with Stark Industries weapons. On his return flight, Tony is tracked by personnel at the American Military Combined Air and Space Center, who declare him an unidentified “bogey” and send two F-22 jets to intercept him. Evading the jets, Tony hides by clinging to the underside of one plane’s fuselage and contacts Rhodey at the center to explain that he is the bogey. Meanwhile, as he spots the strange object, the pilot spins his craft, which flings Tony into the other jet. However, by doing so, he destroys the wing of the other craft, thus forcing Tony to rescue its pilot. Hastily flying away into the clouds afterward, Tony instructs Rhodey to tell the military and the press that the mishap was a training exercise. After hearing Rhodey’s news announcement, a suspicious Obie flies to Afghanistan and meets with Raza, who he had secretly hired to kidnap and kill Tony. When Raza shows Obie the original, partially reconstructed suit, Obie is pleased. Moments later, using a device developed by Stark Industries, Obie temporary paralyzes Raza, so that Obie’s guards can kill Raza’s men and take the suit. Back in California, Obie orders the suit taken to a secret section of Stark Industries labs, Sector 16, and orders technicians to complete work on its power source. Meanwhile, disturbed by the amount of Stark weaponry in Gulmira, Tony asks Pepper to hack into the company’s mainframe to find the shipping manifestos that will pinpoint illegal weapons shipments. Distressed that’s Tony’s actions will likely lead to his own demise, Pepper resigns, but reconsiders when Tony explains that he has come to realize that he survived the convoy attack for a reason and must do what is right. When Pepper goes to his office to search for the secret files, she discovers that Sector 16 has been activated, and also finds the insurgent kidnapping video that reveals that Obie hired Raza. Although nearly caught by Obie, Pepper gets away with the files, then meets Agent Coulson. Realizing that his secret files have been compromised, Obie rushes to Sector 16 to demand the suit, but the lead technician admits that they are unable to recreate a small enough power reactor. Obie then hastens to Tony’s home where, after stunning Tony with the paralyzing device, he rips out the mini arc reactor in his chest, then flees. Alarmed when she is unable to contact Tony, Pepper calls Rhodey, who reaches the house and finds Tony recovering after crawling to the glass encased original reactor that he then reinstalled in his chest. Later, Pepper takes Coulson and his agents to Sector 16, Tony dons his suit, despite warnings from Jarvis that the original reactor does not have the proper strength to run it. Meanwhile Obie powers up and enters the vast, reconstructed “iron monger” suit to fight off the agents. He is about to kill Pepper when Tony arrives in his lighter, smaller suit. Stimulated by the power of his suit, Obie viciously attacks Tony, initiating a ferocious battle in and over Los Angeles, before ending up on the roof of Stark Industries. Knowing that he cannot defeat Obie with a suit powered by the weaker, fading reactor, Tony orders Pepper to overload the giant arc reactor in the lab to destroy everything on the building’s roof. Although afraid that she will harm Tony as well, Pepper complies, and as Tony topples down into the lab and is caught on a ceiling girder, Obie is killed by the reactor explosion. Before a news conference the following morning, while Pepper tends to Tony’s multiple scrapes and bruises, Coulson tells him that SHIELD has provided a cover story placing Tony on an exotic island during the “accident” at Stark Industries. The story will also report that Obie was killed unexpectedly in a private plane crash. Amused that the newspapers dub the flying suit “Iron Man,” Tony is skeptical that the public will accept the story that it is a robotic guard for the company. Following Rhodey’s announcement, Tony addresses the press and states, to their confusion, that Iron Man is not a super hero. After a brief pause, Tony stuns everyone by announcing that he is Iron Man.