Tony Stark, the erudite self-described “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist” — and the guy who put the ‘Man’ in ‘Iron Man’ — is one of the most enduring and best-loved characters in all of popular culture. On Thursday, August 4, Tampa Theatre is bringing in one of the architects of that character, writer/artist Bob Layton, to host a special free screening of the film that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, at 7 p.m.

A Hillsborough County resident, Layton has written and drawn some of the character’s key storylines, including the Armor Wars narrative that will soon become a Disney+ series that begins shooting this October. If you’ve seen the Iron Man movies, then you’re familiar with Layton’s work, as the DVD extras make clear.

But just in case you’re not: Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.), an industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Stark builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.

Layton reinvented the Iron Man comic in the late 70s, taking it from near-cancellation to one of Marvel’s all-time best-selling series. His classic Iron Man story, “Demon in a Bottle,” was recently voted “one of the Top 20 comic stories of all time.” Layton also is credited as the co-creator of Marvel’s Ant-Man, The Ghost from Ant-Man and The Wasp and has credits spanning more than 6,500 published comic titles and 11 Marvel films and TV shows.

Layton will host the screening and participate in a panel discussion with Tampa film commissioner Tyler Martinolich as part of Film Tampa Bay Presents, a quarterly series designed to showcase Tampa Bay-area films, filmmakers, actors and locations through free community screenings at Tampa Theatre.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with a meet and greet with Layton. The first 150 patrons will receive free popcorn and soda. Layton will also be inviting a special guest from the film to join him on stage. You won’t want to miss it! Admission is free, but reservations are required. Claim your tickets at

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