Ever since the release of the first 'Iron Man' film in 2008, the Marvel character has become a certified cultural icon, with his likeness appearing on everything from children's backpacks to Burger King meals to boxes of frozen pizza. And with the release of 'Iron Man 3' this Friday, Iron Man's world domination seems almost complete.

But despite being around for quite some time, he's bound to have a few secrets tucked away in his exoskeleton. So, join us as we look at 10 things you may not have known about Iron Man.

  • 1

    Tom Cruise Was Almost Iron Man


    It's hard to imagine anybody other than Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, but Tom Cruise was considered for the role. He turned it down because he wasn't pleased with the script. (At one point Quentin Tarantino was interested in directing.)

    Still, Tom Cruise would've made a better Iron Man than Nicolas Cage, who expressed interest in the part as early as 1997. Just think about 'Ghost Rider' and pretty much every other Cage role from the past decade for a second, and you'll see what we mean.

  • 2

    J.A.R.V.I.S. Has a Lengthy Name


    In the Marvel Comics universe, Jarvis is the Avengers' loyal butler. In the 'Iron Man' films,  J.A.R.V.I.S. is the name of Stark's AI system that assists him in superhero-ing. It's also an acronym that stands for "Just a Rather Very Intelligent System." Now if only Stark's robotic lab assistant Butterfingers could just get some respect.

  • 3

    The Iron Man Suit Can Lift Over 100 Tons


    When fully powered, Tony Stark can lift up to 100 tons in the Iron Man suit. Pretty impressive considering that the Hulk's maximum lift (when calm) is 100 tons as well. Stark would later invent the Hulkbuster armor (seen below) that could lift 175 tons to be able to combat The Hulk in certain situations.

  • 4

    Iron Man Turns 50 This Year


    Introduced in 'Tales of Suspense' #39 in 1963 at the height of the Cold War, Iron Man was first conceived as an anti-Communist hero. Over the years, he's become more and more dependent upon technology to live and even battled alcoholism in famous 'Demon in a Bottle' storyline from the 1970s. Still, he's been a member of the Avengers throughout most of his career and has battled everyone from Dr. Doom to the Skrulls. Not bad for a hero nearing retirement age.

  • 5

    Iron Man's Suit is Close to Becoming a Reality


    Lockheed Martin is one of several companies in the process of developing untethered exoskeletons reminiscent of Iron Man's suit. Their Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), is meant to help soldiers carry loads of up to 200 lbs. at a top speed of 10 MPH for prolonged periods of time.

    The first commercial sale of an exoskeleton for medical purposes occurred in September of last year and could signal the start of an era where powered suits are available to anyone with the cash, experts say. Still, don't get your hopes up just yet -- these things can currently go for as much as $70,000.

  • 6

    This Superfan Built the Coolest Cosplay Suit Ever

    While we wait for real-life exoskeletons to become affordable, we'll just have to content ourselves with this amazing fan made armor created by fitness instructor Anthony Le.

    Le's killer Iron Man suit has light up eyes and repulsors, a retractable mask, moving flight stabilizers, motorized shoulder weapons and jets that shoot out streams of CO2. We want one!

  • 7

    Robert Downey, Jr. is One of the World's Oldest Superheroes


    Superhero movies tend to be dominated by younger actors like Chris Evans, Andrew Garfield and Chris Hemsworth, but Downey turned 48 last month, which makes him one of the oldest actors to ever play a superhero. This doesn't appear to hamper his crime fighting abilities, however.

  • 8

    The Makers of 'Iron Man 3' Took Liberties With the Mandarin


    To fans of the comic, the Mandarin is one of Iron Man's most recognizable adversaries, but producers took several liberties with the character in 'Iron Man 3.' For starters, the Mandarin is no longer Chinese. He also no longer possesses power rings salvaged from a crashed alien space ship. According to director Shane Black, these changes were put in place to make the character more realistic and less of a stereotypical "Fu Manchu villain just waving his fist."

  • 9

    Tony Stark is Based on Howard Hughes

    Library of Congress

    According to 'Iron Man' creator Stan Lee, Stark was based on magnate Howard Hughes, who Lee described as "one of the most colorful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies' man and finally a nutcase."

    For a significant portion of his life, Hughes displayed symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and once lived in a darkened screening room for four months, never leaving its confines and relieving himself in empty containers and bottles. Fortunately, that sort of thing has never made it into the 'Iron Man' movies.

  • 10

    The Mandarin Almost Appeared in the First 'Iron Man'


    An early script for the first 'Iron Man' movie featured the Mandarin, but director Jon Favreau killed the idea because he thought the character was too "fantastical." Instead, Stark is captured in the beginning of the flick by a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings, which is a direct reference to the supervillain's rings of power. It also provides a nifty bit of continuity for the third 'Iron Man' installment.

  • Bonus

    15 Facts You May Not Know About the Avengers