Chances are, you’re completely aware that Iron Man hits theaters on May 2. The iconic character is currently plastered on the sides of buses, staring out at us from massive billboards and starring in a steady stream of television spots showcasing Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) affinity for red and gold bionic body armor. In a smart—albeit obvious—marketing move, Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” is blasting in just about every one of the film’s commercials begging the question: does the heavy metal classic have anything to do with the Marvel Comics character created in 1963 by the team of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Don Heck? Not at all.
Naturally, you’re surprised. Sabbath’s “Iron Man”—released on their 1970 album Paranoid—is about a man who travels to the future and witnesses the apocalypse (not the big blue fellow, you nerd). When heading back to the present he is caught in a magnetic field and turned to iron, which renders him unable to warn mankind of its impending fall. Silenced and shunned by his peers, the “Iron Man” takes revenge on all humans and ends up causing the very apocalypse he had previously seen.
Tony Stark may not be a model citizen—particularly after his fascist turn during Marvel’s Civil War event—but Sabbath’s murderous “Iron Man” clearly isn’t referring to ol’ Shellhead. Still, it’s got one of the most badass riffs in rock music, so we’ll let these inconsistencies slide just a tad.
Interesting note: While the song and the superhero were not initially related, Marvel retconned Iron Man’s origins to include the song as Tony Stark’s inspiration in naming his alter-ego. Thanks to revisionist history, it was the Marvel character that was influenced by the song, even though he was created seven years before Sabbath released it.