Right now, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more popular superhero in the world than Iron Man. If the steadily increasing box office figures weren't enough of an indicator, look no further than the resounding presence of Robert Downey Jr., a man who has become nigh indistinguishable from his on-screen persona Tony Stark. His impeccable depiction of the self-proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist was the launching pad for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it and has left fans clamoring for more. With the recent news that RDJ is warming to the idea of Iron Man 4, let's take a retrospective journey through his past five cinematic appearances to see what there is to learn from everyone's favorite armored Avenger!
1. Admit When You're Wrong
When we're introduced to Tony Stark, there's not much about him that's immediately endearing. Sure he's charming and wealthy, but he's also a glorified arms dealer and war profiteer, happy to look the other way when it comes to the actual consequences of his actions and creations. After fighting for his life, Tony returns home a changed man, humbled by his experiences. He immediately shuts down the weapons manufacturing arm of Stark Industries and devotes himself to helping people in need, showing us that sometimes you have to acknowledge and own up to your faults and misdeeds in order to grow as a person.
2. You're Not Invincible
In Iron Man 2, Tony is arrogant in his belief that he has "successfully privatized world peace," essentially giving the US government the finger and insisting he is the only thing needed to keep the peace. Enter Whiplash, a villain who quickly humbles our hero, showing him he's not as invincible as he thought and he might need a little help from his friends.
3. You Don't Need To Go It Alone
Following through with his remark at the end of Iron Man that Tony had "become part of a bigger universe," Nick Fury introduces him to a team of remarkable individuals in The Avengers. Tony brings his requisite cockiness to the table yet again, before being confronted by Captain America about his narcissistic ways. Tony eventually embraces the help of his new teammates in the Battle of New York, showing us that you don't always have to be a lone wolf. Sometimes it's nice to just grab some well-earned shawarma with your buddies!
4. Even Heroes Have Weaknesses
Iron Man 3 is the first time we really see past the egotistical bravado of Tony Stark and bear witness to the conflicted and vulnerable man within. The battle at the end of The Avengers has left Tony shaken and prone to panic attacks, stemming from his feelings of weakness and perceived inability to protect those he cares about, namely Pepper Potts. Tony ultimately regains his confidence and shows us that not only do our biggest heroes share our vulnerabilities, but also that it is possible to overcome them and save the day.
5. Listen To People You Trust
If Iron Man 3 tore our hero down, Avengers: Age of Ultron restored him right back to his self-aggrandizing ways. Tony takes it upon himself to develop a system for planetary protection, opting to not consult his teammates and forging ahead on his own. This proves to be a costly mistake as the villainous Ultron is birthed, threatening to destroy the very planet he was created to protect. Through Tony's actions, we learn the importance of relying on the advice of your peers and those you trust. Often times, listening to the input of others is the best way to stay grounded and humble; it also would've prevented the creation of a homicidal, vibranium-clad, 10-foot robot hell-bent on destroying humanity. Just saying.