When the Soviet media first branded Margaret Thatcher "Iron Lady" in 1976, she was delighted. It's a name that perfectly encapsulates the raw nerve and verve of one of the most powerful women in history, who served as England's Prime Minister for three terms and stood her ground during the Falklands War. She is played to uncanny effect by Oscar winner Meryl Streep in the biopic "The Iron Lady" (on DVD and Blu-ray today).
Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck in 1963 for Marvel Comics, and in 2008 became a movie franchise to be reckoned with. Robert Downey Jr. portrays the superhero as a healthy mix of Howard Hughes, James Bond and, well, Robert Downey Jr., and will continue doing so in this summer's team-up extravaganza "The Avengers."
Both Iron Man and the Iron Lady are highly controversial figures in their own way, perfect to battle each other. You'd think over a billion bucks at the box office and a massive comic-book empire would give Tony Stark the advantage, but you might be surprised at just how formidable an opponent Ms. Thatcher can be.
Tony Stark: Owner and CEO of Stark Industries, superhero, leader of The Avengers; beats up bad guys and shoots missiles and lasers at their headquarters. Genius-level intellect (physicist/engineer), flight, super-strength, GPS.
Margaret Thatcher: Secretary of State for Education and Science (1971-'74), Leader of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-'90). Guides the lawmaking process in House of Commons, appoints and dismisses cabinet members, coordinates the policies and activities of all government departments. Genius-level intellect (chemist), authoritative speaking voice, great hair.
Advantage:Thatcher, being one of the leaders of the free world and all. Also, actually existing is a plus.
Tony Stark: Arc reactor-powered exoskeleton, repulsor bursts, guns, full flight capability, computer artificial intelligence assistance by JARVIS.
Margaret Thatcher: Royal-blue wool crepe suit with long skirt and beaded evening fichu, with matching blue handbag and pearls.
Advantage: Thatcher, because blue is in this year.
Tony Stark: Virginia "Pepper" Potts, secretary to Tony, later CEO of Stark Industries and Iron Man's main squeeze, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Margaret Thatcher: Sir Denis "1st Baronet" Thatcher, successful businessman, husband of Maggie, super old dude (1915-2003).
Advantage: Stark by about a trillion light years.
Tony Stark: Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes (aka War Machine), Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow), Happy Hogan.
Margaret Thatcher: Ronald Reagan, Geoffrey Howe, Carol Thatcher (daughter), Airey Neave.
Advantage: Iron Man. As far as we know, none of Maggie's pals have a minigun mounted on their shoulder.
Tony Stark: Obadiah Stane (aka Iron Monger), Ivan Vanko (aka Whiplash), Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, Justin Hammer, the Ghost, Blacklash, the Mandarin.
Margaret Thatcher: Trade unions, Soviet Union, Michael Heseltine, Argentina, Libya, Keynesian economics.
Advantage: Thatcher, who did a pretty good job suppressing most of her enemies -- as opposed to Iron Man, whose foes have a nasty habit of coming back again and again and again.
Tony Stark: Whiskey with a Chlorophyll chaser.
Margaret Thatcher: Whiskey with a vitamin B12-in-the-butt injection chaser.
Advantage:Thatcher, who managed to keep it together despite heavy drinking and little sleep, unlike Tony "Demon in a Bottle" Stark, who let Rhodey steal his armor 'cause he was too smashed.
- "My old man had a philosophy: peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy."
- "They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That's how Dad did it, that's how America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far."
- "Because I'm your nuclear deterrent. It's working. We're safe. America is secure. You want my property? You can't have it. But I did you a big favor: I've successfully privatized world peace."
- "If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."
- "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end."
- "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t."
Advantage: Come to think of it, we're not sure which is the more badass and/or conservative of the two. Tie.
Advantage: Iron Man, especially since that nutcracker will haunt our nightmares.
Tony Stark: "Iron Man 2," "The Avengers," "Iron Man 3," etc.
Margaret Thatcher: "Iron Lady in Space," "Iron Lady in the Hood," "Iron Lady: Back 2 tha Hood," etc.
Advantage: Iron Man, but only because it's very hard to build a franchise around a lady who's had tons of strokes and doesn't know her husband's dead most of the time. Also, no rocket boots.
And the Winner Is ...
Tie. These two super-powered icons have a lot more in common than we expected, and despite all his firepower and snarkiness, Tony Stark should never underestimate a little old lady with a blue handbag.
Originally published Dec. 29, 2011.