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Iron Man Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero

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May 02, 2012 | 6:15am EDT

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ALTThere's no question that superheroes are a lucrative bunch. From Spider-Man to The Dark Knight, crime-fighters on the big screen often translate to big bucks at the box office. But how much does it actually cost to be a superhero? To celebrate Superhero Week — and May 4's all-star blockbuster The Avengers — Hollywood.com delves into the sustainability of our favorite heroes' super extracurricular activities. Would they have the funds — and good health — to keep up with their secret lifestyles? To kick off the week, we break down Jon Favreau's 2008 smash hit Iron Man and discover that being a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist isn't as easy as it looks.

Name: Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark

Superhero Alias: Iron Man

Occupation: CEO/President of the defense technology company Stark Industries

Income: According to a recent analysis by Forbes magazine, Iron Man is the world's richest superhero with a $9.3 billion fortune.

Rent: Stark's incredible cliffside home in Malibu was inspired by the Arango resident in Acapulco, which was designed by famed architect John Lautner. While Stark's home hasn't been appraised recently, Courteney Cox and David Arquette sold their Lautner-created Mailbu beach home for $33.5 million in 2007.

Costume: Tony cobbled together his first costume from metal scraps while being held captive in an Afghanistan cave. After that, it got considerably more expensive. While the gold-titanium alloy exoskeleton is what provides Iron Man with strength and protection, surprisingly, it's the smaller items that form the priciest components of the suit. The nuclear reactor in Tony's chest is similar to the power source for NASA's Martian rover Curiosity, which costs $36 million, and the voice-activated, helmet-mounted display is modeled after those found in fighter jets, which cost about $54 million. Add in a few jet packs and wearable computers and the total cost shoots up to about $100 million per suit.

Weapons: The Iron Man suit is a walking arsenal. It features anti-tank missiles on the wrists, anti-personal guns on the shoulders, and flare launchers on the hips. Plus, the repulsors in the hands shoot beams of energy that can be used for steering or to knock back enemies. Since cruise missiles cost nearly $1.5 million a piece, Tony should really think twice before taking out baddies with the compact smart missiles in his suit.

Gadgets: Tony's house has been tricked out with JARVIS, an intelligent computer that talks with him, monitors his household, and helps him build gadgets. While JARVIS may be worth millions, it's essentially free since Tony came up with the techology himself and "borrowed" the necessary parts from Stark Industries. (Plus, some guy managed to build a knock off for just $692).

Damages: During Iron Man's battle with Obadiah Stane (a.k.a. Iron Monger), they managed to total six cars and a bus (and put dozens of pot holes into the street). To cover street repair and the cost of a new bus, Tony should have handed over about $2 million to the city of Los Angeles. Plus, he probably needs to reimburse Stark Industries for about $1 billion, or whatever's the current cost of the high-tech weapons lab that Tony blew sky high.

Transportation: When he's in civilian mode, Tony likes to travel in a super-sized private jet, complete with strobe light, stripper pole, and flight attendants that double as exotic dancers. The jet could easily run him $300 million, but he also has the option of flying for free in his Iron Man garb (if he isn't worried about his suit getting wrinkled).

Risks: Since he's encased in metal, Tony is fairly well protected from physical injuries (compared to his spandex-clad fellow super heroes at least). However, we'd say having nothing but a removable electromagnet keeping shrapnel from tearing through your chest is a pretty big danger.

Perks: Literally anything that money can buy — plus the satisfaction of being a bigger playboy than Hugh Hefner.

Sustainability: Questionable. Tony is a billionaire — with a "b" — which means he could create 1,000 Iron Man suits and still have $8.3 billion in the bank. For now, Tony gets all of his weapons at wholesale prices through Stark Industries, but that arrangement won't work if he keeps destroying billions of dollars worth of company property.

Final calculation: It's easy to see why Obadiah Stane was enraged by Tony's decision to have Stark Industries stop making weapons and focus on doing good in the world. It's a noble goal, but after racking up nearly $2 billion in expenses during his first few adventures as Iron Man, Tony needs to focus on making some cash. He won't be of use to anyone if he goes from being Iron Man to a guy in a rusty, old, bullet-riddled costume.

[Realestalker, Popular Mechanics, io9]

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