Stan Lee was Marvel Comics head-editor in 1963 and designed Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, to be a businessman/superhero that embodied the negative stereotypes of that era in regards to 'capitalists,' and then set out to turn the idea on its head. From this start, Iron Man was further developed by writer Larry Lieber, and the visuals were originated by Don Heck and Jack Kirby.
The first appearance of the Iron Man character was in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).
Although there have been a number of Marvel superhero films (but generally not controlled by Marvel) predating the 2008 Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr., this was the film that kicked off the onslaught of superhero films, and especially the Marvel-style superhero film. Downey's performance and the direction by Jon Favreau opened up a new style that depended more on the classic Marvel Comics attitude (and expanded on this in a way that the Sony Pictures Spider-Man movies had not completely exploited) while still playing out the traditional superhero story.
First appearance of Iron Man from 1963. See the Kirby/Don Heck cover enlarged.
Tales of Suspense #39,1963
Tales of Suspense #39, March 1963, Art by Don Heck and Stan Goldberg
More Iron Man
Invincible Iron Man 1
Aug 2016: Calling the new female replacement of Tony Stark "Iron Maiden 'looked like a legal nightmore' says Marvel. So she'll be going by the name "Iron Heart."
Iron Man Movies
Iron Man Suit
Iron Man Comics
Original page March 21, 2013 | Updated Feb 2017