That guy is definitely NOT Tony Stark – far from it – but he was “born” around the same time that Tony Stark debuted. Comic book fans will know that Iron Man first came out in March of 1963 in Tales of Suspense #39, but not many may know about Hardiman, which General Electric created in the 60s.
Yup, that’s the name of this exoskeletal structure, which was conceptualized as an outer mechanical garment that would enhance the power of the human wearing it. Hardiman (which cracks me up for some reason) had an amplification factor of 25 and was funded by the United States military (surprise!).
The diagrams below show the purpose they had in mind for Hardiman – to load bombs onto navy warplanes.1
Unfortunately, he didn’t go beyond the prototype stage due to lack of stability, among other issues.
Another interesting “real” Iron Man creation is the XOS 2, which was shown off in September of this year.2 Created by Raytheon, XOS 2 has been called the “Most Awesomest Invention of 2010.” It makes the man wearing the suit stronger by a factor of 17, but unlike Tony Stark’s suit, it can’t make you fly. It also does not protect the man from bullets and the like. Watch the video below to see the suit in action.
So who is the real Iron Man? Sorry guys, but it will always be RDJ as Tony Stark for me.