The Marvel Cinematic Universe not be where it is right now without the influence of 2008's Iron Man. It started the mega-franchise we all know and love today and introduced us to the possibilities superhero movies can reach with storytelling and casting, with Robert Downey Jr. in the lead of role of Tony Stark.With 15 movies released in the franchise since 2008, Iron Man has made an appearance in eight of them. He is clearly Marvel's most popular superhero in the franchise, but can we really call him a superhero?
Yeah, he always helps save the day and eventually does the right thing, but when you really look at his rap sheet you have to ask yourself: Is Tony Stark doing more harm than good? Maybe.
While we compare him to the actions of Obadiah Stane in Iron Man or Whiplash in Iron Man 2, he does play a part in the kidnapping of President Ellis in Iron Man 3. Back in 1999, we learn that Tony Stark used to be kind of dick and when nerdy scientist Aldrich Killian approached him for a business deal and Stark pulled a very childish move. Instead of just simply telling Killian he wasn't interested in his deal, he instead tells Killian to go wait up on the roof on a cold winter's night. Stark never shows up, instead spending the night with the attractive Maya Hansen. What a high-school jock move.
Unbeknownst to Stark, this would lead to Killian participating in the development of Extremis, thereby amassing a group of Extremis-enhanced soldiers under his command. He would even go as far as participating in terrorist acts under the disguise of the Mandarin, portrayed in the media by Trevor Slattery.
What would have happened if Tony had heard out Killian's business proposal? Would events have played out like they did? All we know for certain is that Stark was personally involved with the transformation of Aldrich Killian, whether he likes to admit it or not. However, that could just be one mistake that Stark could learn and grow from — any superhero can redeem himself or herself.
Unfortunately, Stark does pretty much the opposite of that in Age of Ultron. Though armed with good intentions, Stark creates a powerful A.I. robot that sees humans as a threat to the world, seeing no other option but to exterminate them.
We can't ignore the fact that the creation of Ultron led to the complete destruction of Sokovia and the death of countless people, including Charles Spencer and Helmut Zemo's family.
This brings us to Captain America: Civil War. During the events of Civil War, Stark is approached by Miriam Sharpe, who tells him that her son, Charles Spencer, was killed in the battle of Sokovia, and that she blames him. This leads to Stark teaming up with the now Senator Ross to create the Sokovia Accords that limits the Avenger's activities. Stark believes that this is a step in the right direction because the Avengers would no longer be held accountable for their actions, but Captain America thinks that the government will put on too many restrictions on what they can do. This, of course, leads to the Civil War between Iron Man and Captain America that splits the team in two, leaving Captain America labelled as a war criminal.
Finally, we come to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Again, we can't fully blame Stark for his actions in creating Damage Control, as he created the company with the best of intentions. He created a system that can expertly clean up after any big battle that the Avengers or any superheroes take part in. However, we can't ignore the fact that this gave birth to the villain, Adrian Toomes a.k.a. the Vulture. In Homecoming, Toomes is constantly stealing alien tech from Damage Control so that he can create and sell dangerous weapons, putting those living in residential areas at risk.
In the eight years since the first Iron Man movie, #TonyStark became the influence for Aldrich Killian's terrorist acts, lead Adrian Toomes to create and sell super weapons, the destruction of Sokovia, and the division of the Avengers (and his friend and teammate being labelled as a war criminal). Yeah, in each of these movies he does eventually do the right thing, but he is still responsible for the death of countless innocent people and endangering the safety of others.
Does this mean that the Avengers' most dangerous enemy is Iron Man? In a way, kind of. However, this also kind of creates the most humanized character in the #MCU. No matter what he tries to do to prevent what happened in the first Avengers film, he constantly just makes this worse and more difficult for his team.
Stark wants to do the right thing and he wants to be the good guy but it constantly blows up in his face. In a way, that's very heartbreaking. Imagine trying to make the world a better place, but instead you cause more death and pain than any supervillain the Avengers have come across. It may not make #IronMan a good guy, but it does make him incredibly sympathetic. On top of everything that has happened, he's still trying.
None of these incidents have slowed him down. He still tries to do right and help the little guy, as we've seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming. That kind of makes him one of the best superheroes out there — deeply flawed but also very driven. He's not giving up any time soon and will continue to try to be the best superhero he can be. Isn't that what being an Avenger is all about?
What do you think about Iron Man?