Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan is dead in the comics, and it was Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, who murdered him during Marvel’s Civil War.
One of the great things about mainstream superhero comics is that, while the wider universe is huge, each hero comes complete with their own supporting cast. Marvel heroes are interlinked, but they tend to come with their own villains, their own struggles, their own love interests, and their own friends. Such is certainly the case for Iron Man, who – when he isn’t palling around with Captain America and Thor – has friends of his own, such as his former love interest and close friend Pepper Potts, and his best friend Harold “Happy” Hogan… who he murdered in 2007.
Happy is probably best known for Jon Favreau’s depiction of the character in the MCU, both as Tony Stark’s right-hand man and later – inSpider-Man: Far From Home – Peter Parker’s custodian (and Aunt May’s budding love interest.) While Favreau’s Happy Hogan might not have struck anyone as an essential character, he has actually been a stalwart of Iron Man’s adventures since 1963’s Tales of Suspense #45, eventually marrying Pepper Potts. Despite this, since Tony killed him, Happy hasn’t benefited from any comic-book resurrections.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Of course, Iron Man is a hero, so there has to be a reason he killed one of his best friends, and there is – Pepper begged him to do it, and the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman egged him on. This was during Marvel’s first Civil War event, a story that left Tony in such a dark place he had to eventually erase his memories of the period to be accepted again by his former colleagues. But even in killing Happy, Tony was trying to be the hero.
Iron Man vol. 4 #14 saw Happy in a coma from which he was never expected to wake. He’d been left in that state by his attack on Iron Man foe Spymaster. The villain had intended to use Happy as bait to hurt Pepper, and Hogan – unwilling to allow anyone to come to harm on his account – tackled the bad guy from a great height. Recalling a dinner with Happy’s boxer friends, Pepper informs Tony that he never wanted to live without control of his body, begging Tony to use his control over machines to illegally deactivate Happy’s life support, killing his friend in accordance with what she is sure would be his wishes.
Tony turns her down, retiring to his tower and pouring himself a drink. Despite knowing it would help her side win the Civil War, Invisible Woman (who followed him back from the hospital) stops him from ruining his sobriety, shaming him for allowing Happy to come to harm on his account. Iron Man shuts her down, pointing out that she’s allowing her problems with Mister Fantastic to guide her judgment of him, but once she leaves, Tony sits down, says the Lord’s Prayer, and the machine is shown registering Happy’s flatlining heart rate.
While the comic isn’t 100%, incontrovertibly explicit that Iron Man killed Happy Hogan, it’s implied to the point that little room for doubt is left (though there’s always the chance a future writer may bend over backwards to rewrite the moment.) It’s possible to read the comic in many ways – from Tony Stark shouldering endless guilt on his friend’s behalf to a super-powered authoritarian subverting legal authority to kill a man whose wishes are unknown – but it’s a shocking moment in Iron Man’s history that lends a great deal of context to his later actions. As a hero who tries to avoid killing wherever possible, the knowledge that Iron Man broke that rule for his own friend is fascinating, especially alongside the knowledge that it came right before his descent into what many people (including the heroes of Marvel’s universe) have since called outright villainy. Happily, Jon Favreau’s version of Happy Hogan is likely to avoid such a fate, partly because Spymaster doesn’t yet exist in the MCU, and partly because as of Avengers: Endgame, he’s managed to outlive the man who murdered him in the comics.
Next: Is Iron Man Hoping To Die A Hero’s Death?
PS5 DualSense Controller Has A Removable Faceplate