(Warning - mild discussion of Tony Stark's role in the comic-book Civil War lies below, as well as some SPOILERS relating to past Marvel comic-books. Proceed with whatever mild level of caution your innate sense of SPOILER-aversion suggests is wise...)
Now, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the imminent arrival of Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War, but one of the most unusual is the fact that come next summer, we're set to see Tony 'Iron Man' Stark - arguably the most beloved hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - play the role of the movie's main antagonist. Which, seeing as fans the world over have long-since fallen in love with Robert Downey Jr.'s take on the hero, could well be set to completely freak out a whole lot of people.
As it turns out, though, the idea of Iron Man being a figure for fans to potentially hate isn't all that out of keeping with his comic-book origins. In fact:
The Real Reason Stan Lee Created Iron Man Explains a Whole Lot About Tony Stark
And, for that matter, the imminent (relative) villainy of the hero in Captain America: Civil War.
Stan Lee Created Iron Man as a Dare
Specifically, he dared himself to create the character, for a very particular reason. As he himself put it:
"I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military....So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist....I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular."
In other words?
Iron Man Was Intended to Be an Unlikable Asshole ...Who We Liked Despite Ourselves
Yup, that's right. Stan-the-Man-Lee intended for Tony Stark to be a caricature of exactly the sort of arch-capitalist playboy industrialists that most people hate (and occasionally envy). He was basically Donald Trump crossed with Henry Kissinger, only with more arms manufacturing. We were all supposed to see him as a representative of big-business not caring about the little guy, a heartless shill for corporate America who cared only about himself and his profit margins.
And then we were supposed to fall in love with him anyway.
Which of course we all promptly did, because he's Iron Man.
Now, of course, Tony's character was softened over the years, and he was allowed to question both the nature of his capitalist ventures and his ardent, unquestioning patriotism...
...but whenever the plot demanded it, he would invariably revert right back to being the intentionally hard-to-love asshole Stan Lee originally envisioned him as. That's why, for instance, the Ultimate universe's Iron Man remained a massive jerk for his entire existence, and even mainstream Marvel comic-books have periodically turned Tony into a villain. It's also why Tony was able to plausibly side with the government against Captain America in the comic-book Civil War (despite Cap being the one guy you never want to be on the other side of an argument to): because he's Tony Stark, and we love him even when he's a thoughtless government stooge on the wrong side of history.
And, of course...
That's Why We'll All Still Love Him in 'Captain America: Civil War'
Even when he does something terrible to Cap, or betrays his old friends in some fashion, we'll still love Tony - partly because of Robert Downey Jr. of course, but also because as a hero, he has always been designed to be a lovable asshole who we're supposed to hate, but don't.
And that's just the way we like him.
What do you reckon, though?