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In real life, Max Levy is a happy 5-year-old boy who battles hemophilia. In the pages of Marvel Comics, he is "Iron Max," fighting crime and helping others.
Both of them are superheroes.
"Since he's been a baby he's been told what he can't do and now it's sort of kind of neat to see what he can do, and he can be anything — he can be a superhero," his father, Dan Levy, told NBC News. "That's just the coolest thing."
Max's transformation to "Iron Max" began when he was 3 years old and had to go to the hospital to have a metal disk inserted into his chest to facilitate his hemophilia treatments. His father told him he was just like Iron Man, who had a node implanted in his chest that gives him new abilities to go along with the ones from his special armored suit. Dan Levy then used the hashtag #ironmax on social media to update family and friends on his condition after the surgical procedure.
A charitable act by Max's sister Zoe, 8, who was selling calendars with pictures of Max to support kids with hemophilia being treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, soon came to the attention of Marvel. The creators of Iron Man then decided to officially make Max a superhero by putting him in one of their comics right alongside Iron Man himself.
"I'm not a crier, I'm not — it was literally the first time, I just came into the room, and I just wept," his father told NBC News. "It's been a year and half of ... honestly not great, this kid deserves a win."
In the Marvel comic, Iron Man's alter ego, Tony Stark, meets Max during a visit to a children's hospital and creates a special armored suit just for him. The two then square off against Doctor Doom.
"I think it's pretty cool being in a comic book," Max told NBC News. "Like it's really really cool. I'm making (other children) not scared because there's a kid who's a superhero and they would like to be that I guess."
By putting "Iron Max" in a well-known comic, the hope is also that it brings more attention to other kids with hemophilia, a disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly.
"This can help other kids with hemophilia and people with other diseases or just to raise awareness and money," Levy said. "I really genuinely think that this is just the beginning of something amazing for him."
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