Robert Downey Jr. is the star behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You could argue dozens of different things, saying it was a group effort, Kevin Feige created it all, Stan Lee is to thank, etc. But deep down, don't we all know that RDJ is the true leading man for the MCU? I think we do. Because of his charm on and off the screen, he's become an immensely popular actor/superhero. In real life, I totally understand. He's a cool guy! But why is his character famous within the world of the movies?
He's Not a Celebrity, He's a Weapons Dealer!
Seriously, weapons dealers are not celebrities. This particular weapons dealer shares many traits with most celebrities: shallow, selfish, arrogant, and of course, filthy rich. While it's true that he's a changed man now (kind of), those are the traits that made him a celebrity.
Arms Dealers Can Be Celebrities . . . Right?
Wesley G. Bush. Marillyn Hewson. Peter Panaritis. Do you know who they are? Not Kingpin's assistant on Daredevil, not a rockstar, and not Spider-Man. They're all the CEOs of weapons companies that have defense contracts with the US military. Did you know who they were? I doubt it.
So why is Tony Stark such a big time d̶o̶u̶c̶h̶e̶ celebrity? Well, let's go over the possibilites:
He's Known More As a Donald Trump-esque Figure
There are some "celebrities" (and I use that term loosely), who are only famous because they're, well, infamous. The attitudes and opinions and dramatics, something that would be interesting in a normal scenario, is amplified by their wealth. This catches the eye of the media, and bounces back to viewers. Before the presidential race, everyone knew of Donald Trump, but didn't know about Donald Trump. Maybe you watched The Apprentice, maybe you stayed at a Trump Tower. But now that he's doing stupid stuff in the public eye, it matters and we now follow news about him. The same goes for Tony Stark. Perhaps his womanizing, charm, and inevitable DUIs are what keep bringing him to the public eye.
He's a Mark Zuckerberg-esque Figure
Mark Zuckerberg is one of the defining people of this generation. He built an enormous social media platform from scratch, becoming a billionaire and receiving widespread acclaim for his accomplishments along the way. Unlike Zuckerberg, Stark received his company from his father, but rejuvenated it. The point is, these two are superstars in the tech world, and not only because of their skills to make such a company, but to market themselves in a way that they're seen the way they want to be seen.
It's a Comic Book Movie and No One Gives a Crap
Of course, the laziest (and probably truest) reason is that it's fiction! No one cares. If you want to have a womanizing, charming weapons manufacturing billionaire, you go ahead and you do it! Logistically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was fresh at the time we first met Tony Stark, and considering the gamble that the movie already was, there was no time to waste on useless exposition. So we went with it, and we watched Tony Stark grow into a person more deserving of his celebrity status.