The Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced many heroes over the last few years. However, arguably the most popular hero is Iron Man/Tony Stark. Since emerging onto the silver screen, Robert Downey Jr.’s spot-on performance of Tony Stark let Marvel make the Iron Avenger into a huge franchise player.

Sadly, they’ve also made him an insufferable asshole.

Now, I’m purely talking about the film version of Tony Stark (the comics version is far more tolerable). I also think Iron Man deserves to be in the films. Somewhere along the line, Marvel lost the delicate balance of charm and smugness that kept Tony Stark likable and made me want to punch him.

How the Iron Man Trilogy Should Have Gone

Origins

Tony Stark started as an unlikeable character. He was charming and funny, but there was a massive air of entitlement and disconnect around him. He missed awards shows, made weapons with a thought, and could have any woman he wanted. That attitude made sense. Tony was a genius who inherited his father’s company. The work seemed effortless to him, and he had money to burn. Anyone in that position would seem like he only cared about himself.

TONY STARK
“Oh Jesus, orphans again?”

His major shift came when he finally saw the results of his weapons being used. Tony realized he was responsible for so many deaths. That shattered his bubble and galvanized him into being Iron Man. This can be seen as him deciding ‘only I can save everyone, ‘ but it was easier to admire him trying to fix his mistakes and take responsibility.

Tony’s first two solo movies show growth– trying to be a hero, dealing with death, and stepping out of his father’s shadow. THE AVENGERS led him to make a huge sacrifice in nearly dying to save New York. Unfortunately, this also led to his problems in subsequent films.

IRON MAN 3/AGE OF ULTRON

IRON MAN 3 saw Tony dealing with PTSD by building endless Iron Man suits. It makes sense, as Tony is trying to eliminate all his fears of not being prepared and letting people die. At the same time, it can also be seen as his desire to save morphing into a messiah complex. He moves from ‘I can save the world’ to ‘ONLY I can save the world.’

Tony’s fear seems to be moving him back to the arrogance he displayed before. That problem only grows worse in AGE OF ULTRON. Tony receives a vision of the Avengers dying because he ‘didn’t do enough.’ He’s understandably fearful, but instead of discussing the problem with the team, he convinces Banner to help him poke around with an Infinity Stone.

TONY STARK
And we all know how that turned out…

Tony doesn’t apologize either. Instead, he argues with Captain America that he was trying to deal with problems before they happen. He further adds that he just ‘wants everyone to be able to go home.’ Tony raises fair points, but his actions make them moot.

Then he worsens the problem with a secret, experimental plan to create a solution (the Vision), which is almost exactly what he did before. It works, but Tony’s actions harm the perception of the Avengers and make it clear he will do what he thinks is right without remorse.

CIVIL WAR

ULTRON haunts Tony in the next movie. Tony is ashamed (as he should be), but again, he attempts to force the solution he thinks is best. Tony’s support of the Sokovia Accords has many problems. The most obvious problem is that instead of giving the Avengers checks against their power (another fair point), Tony splinters the team.

TONY STARK
Though we did get a great fight scene out of it

The agreement holds problems for Tony as well. He knows that he made a mistake with Ultron. He wants people to understand that he’s trying to fix it. However, having the team sign the Accords isn’t Tony saying he’s sorry. It’s the team saying they’re sorry. Tony wants the Avengers to share his blame because he can’t accept what he’s done with his messiah complex.

He tries to force everyone to sign it, but only succeeds in breaking up the team. Tony doesn’t hold to the Accords either. He breaks them when it suits him (teaming with Cap at the end, recruiting Spider-Man and then letting him act independently). In fact, that last action is what leads to Tony’s most despicable actions…

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Spider-Man returned to Marvel in CIVIL WAR thanks to Tony Stark. However, this film showed how little thought Tony put into it. Imagine giving a fifteen-year-old kid a super-suit, flying them around the world, letting them be an Avenger for about fifteen minutes, and then dumping them back home while saying ‘we’ll call you.’ That’s exactly what Tony does, and it’s why Honest Trailers said Tony Stark became “every drunk step-dad ever.”

Peter Parker calls Tony regularly for another mission, but Tony brushes him off. He only interacts with Spidey when the web-slinger nearly dies (and even then by remote). Peter starts looking for ways to prove himself as a result. He shows his potential, but also nearly gets killed.

The culmination comes when Tony is forced to get involved with a weapons deal aboard the Staten Island Ferry. Tony lambastes Peter for nearly getting people killed (despite Peter nearly saving everyone) and interrupting an FBI investigation (which Tony called after Peter mentioned suspicious activity to him).

He then demands the spider-suit back, despite having caused the problems by keeping Peter out of the loop. Instead of considering his actions, Tony just seems annoyed his ‘protege’ nearly made him look bad.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN Vol. 2: THE WAR MACHINES Review: Not Compatible

Peter manages to save the day (and Tony’s supply of Avengers gear) leading to Tony bringing him to Avengers HQ for imitation. It’s the equivalent of the drunk step-dad knowing he screwed up and buying the kid a car as an apology.

Tony even tries to say his actions were tough love, but he sounds like he’s trying to convince himself and Peter. It’s no wonder Peter turns down his offer; why be on a team with a mentor who ignored you except when you might make him look bad?

Put Down the Bottle, Drunk Step-Dad Tony Stark

In conclusion, Tony Stark will always have a degree of arrogance to him. It’s central to his character, and the comics have utilized it too. However, the movies run the risk of alienating Tony’s fanbase by pushing too hard in that direction.

It may be building to something (Tony’s rumored death in INFINITY WARS could come after a redeeming performance), but at the moment, it just makes me want to punch him in the face. Fans are the ones holding him accountable though. Tony is just like any person (fictional or not) and fans shouldn’t ignore his behavior because he can be funny.

It damages the reputation his character has in the comics and could turn his possible death from a heroic sacrifice to ‘oh thank God that asshole’s dead.’

Even I think Tony Stark deserves more than that.

7 Comments

  1. Tai

    December 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    There are Nazis and corrupt politicians in the MCU, not to mention significantly bigger assholes such as Loki, but no, by all means, keep harping on about Tony Stark. Yikes, this is one of the most embarrassing “articles” I’ve read in a long time. Y’all still sore about Tony’s “real journalists, not bloggers” crack in Homecoming, huh?

    Reply

  2. Matt Cooper

    Matt Cooper

    November 20, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Sorry, this is a bad question. RDJ makes any film or character better.

    Reply

  3. masterbnate

    masterbnate

    November 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

    He’s more likeable in the films more than in the comics. Remember comic book version of civil war

    Reply

  4. The Last Gasp 🌹🤝

    The Last Gasp 🌹🤝

    November 20, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Personally, I like him better in the films than I do in the comics. Still an ass though.

    Reply

  5. Declan Kenny

    Declan Kenny

    November 20, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Read a comic he’s a prick lol

    Reply

  6. Kurt OCD

    Kurt OCD

    November 20, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Tony Stark is awesome @RobertDowneyJr

    Reply

  7. Marcus V as in Five

    Marcus V as in Five

    November 20, 2017 at 9:47 am

    “Maybe”? I like my Tony a bit more insufferable than I do the team player. It keeps him at odds with… https://t.co/WTaHF0qVra

    Reply

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