In Marvel’s Iron Man 2020 crossover, one of Tony Stark’s greatest creations in comics and the MCU evolved way beyond what they were created to be.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Iron Man 2020 #4, by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Pete Woods, Celeste Woods, Pete Woods and VC’s Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
The Iron Man 2020 even has been an enlightening one for Tony Stark. After Stark was led to believe that he was really an A.I., his long-lost brother, Arno, took over Stark Industries and the Iron Man mantle. Now, he’s been waging war against robots and artificial intelligence in the world, a war that is waging through the entire Marvel Universe.
As everyone from Ironheart to the Fantastic Four has learned firsthand, the robots of the Marvel Universe were ready for a revolution, and Arno’s war is destroying humanity’s relationship with A.I. After the Tony Stark A.I. found himself as the unlikely leader in Marvel’s robo-revolution, he was seemingly killed at the end of Iron Man 2020 #3.
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Now, Iron Man 2020 #4 revealed that Tony Stark — the real Tony Stark — was alive after all, thanks in no small part to his longtime A.I. companion Friday. As this issue reveals, Friday has been hiding within a virtual environment called the 13th Floor, a virtual safe haven for A.I. and a vital installation in the war against A.I. obedience programming.
Using the full power of his Iron Man suit, Arno killed Tony as he was trying to disable a machine that would broadcast programming to make Marvel’s A.I.s obedient. But under the alias Ghost in the Machine, Friday transferred Mark One’s consciousness from his body into the 13th Floor just before Arno’s blast could deal any fatal damage.
As Friday explains, the 13th Floor is what Tony Stark once called the eScape, a safe haven for artificial intelligence. Friday had her code scattered throughout the eScape and bonded with it as it was reformatted in the 13th Floor. As Friday herself put it, she went “from a voice in a suit of armor, to a walking talking android, to an entire world.” With her newfound reach, Friday contacts the leaders of the robot resistance and tells them she can provide a patch for Arno’s obedience programming.
After making this revelation, Friday confronts Tony and tells him that he is actually the real Tony Stark, with his only augmentations being a few artificial biological components. To prove her point, Friday has been collecting fragments of Tony’s consciousness in the 13th Floor in hopes that one day they could reconfigure his consciousness and bring back the real Tony Stark. Although Tony is confronted with a troubling concept of how can an idea of Tony Stark be the real Tony Stark, Friday responds that she’s also a living, evolving idea of Tony Stark’s, and she’s proud of that fact.
Friday has come a long way since she was introduced as a computing system in 2002’s Iron Man #53, by Mike Grell and Michael Ryan. Much like the Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Friday has grown far beyond the glorified OS she was originally intended to be. Somewhat ironically, And now, she’s saved her creator and helped him realize that he’s still the real Tony Stark in every way that counts.
With Mark I’s body still intact, Friday and Tony are on a mission to inject Tony back into reality so he can wrestle back control of his empire from Arno and stop his war on A.I. As Iron Man 2020 continues, Arno will have his hands full against a self-actualized Tony Stark who is backed by Friday, who now has with the computing power of an entire A.I. world at her disposal.
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