I'm sure you already know, but (spoiler alert) Tony Stark will be playing the main antagonist in Captain America: Civil War. From the response to Civil War so far, however, this looks like a genius move by Marvel; especially given the fact that many criticisms previously directed at their movies have rotated around the idea that their movies contain forgettable villains. Well, Stark may be a lot of things, but forgettable he is not. So, here's a re-cap of his journey from hero to becoming Captain America's antagonist in Civil War.
Tony Stark: Arms Dealer
It's easy to forget that Tony Stark began his days in the MCU as an arms manufacturer and dealer. Yes, I know he only sold to 'legitimate governments', but that doesn't change the fact that he sold weapons invented to inflict death and destruction in return for a financial profit. He didn't exactly start his career as a saint, that's for sure. Although the realization of where his weapons were actually going to was the necessary catalyst to turn Stark into a hero, it does show that he had a propensity to do bad things from the very beginning. Fortunately, he created the suit and became a fan favorite, but it wasn't a smooth transition into the Avengers.
"Put On The Suit!"
From as early as 2012's "Avengers Assemble", Stark and Cap have been knocking heads over their ideologies. Given that both have at some point been contested leaders of The Avengers in the comics, this comes as no surprise. Captain America is a weathered soldier used to giving orders in the line of fire, and Stark is equally adept at having things his own way due to the fact that he's CEO of his own tech firm. If any split was going to occur between two Avengers, it would stem from differences between these two. It could be argued that with differing ideologies, and both acquiring a skill for leadership, this alone is an argument to say Civil War was inevitable. The first signs were clear when both characters first meet in "Avengers Assemble" and discuss their plan of action.
You know you may not be a threat but you better stop pretending to be a hero
Post-Avengers: Tony Stark Suffers from PTSD
Nothing was the same for Iron Man after "Avengers Assemble". Marvel decided to take on some heavy subject-matter to invigorate the third installment of the Ironman trilogy by asking some hefty questions about what happens to a man when he grabs a nuclear missile and flies it through an artificial wormhole created by an invading alien army in order to destroy them.
This feature of Iron Man 3 has remained far more prevalent in future installments of the MCU. It is difficult to know if it was as early as this when Marvel decided to transition Iron Man into a potential bad guy. Any psychologist who has studied the psychological impact of violence will tell you people who suffer from the effects of violence often have the capacity to then contribute to the causes of violence. Regardless, whether it was planned or not, Stark contracting PTSD paved the way for his increasingly obsessive behaviour, an important feature in his transformation as an antagonist.
Major Mistakes: Stark Creates Ultron
In some ways, Stark has already played the villain in an MCU movie. Ultron, the titled villain in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" was created by Stark directly from a motive of fear; a trait present in his personality since the aforementioned Iron Man 3 was released. The line between Stark and Ultron is even further blurred by the fact that Ultron often gets caught quoting the same lines as Stark.
Keep your friends rich, and your enemies rich, and wait to find out which is which.
The two even share similar philosophies with one another, as well as the same humour to a point that even other characters begin to notice. Perhaps most importantly to the Civil War set-up is the fact that Tony never apologises for his wrong-doing by the end of the movie, and this makes you question whether he is learning from his mistakes. In fact, because he also created Vision, which was a much more successful creation, his negative behaviour was reenforced.
Present Day: The Avengers have Dis-Assembled
Another important aspect of "Age of Ultron" is that it was The Avengers as a team that stopped Iron Man from going off into the deep end. Despite his ideological differences with Cap, it was Thor that best kept Stark in check during The Avengers sequel. However, with Thor busy with "Ragnarok" and Hulk also missing, it is no surprise that the Avengers have disbanded. This means Captain America is left alone to control Stark. Therefore, at least some portion of Stark's move to the dark-side is due to the absence of his trusted friends.
With these ideas in mind, it is clear that Tony Stark's transition to the dark-side has been a gradual and convincing one. Now that he's arrived, this paves the way for a pretty interesting head-to-head in Civil War. With Iron Man being a fan favorite, they can't paint him as a black-and-white villain - as has been the case with Stark's villainous predecessors. Marvel will have the opportunity to tackle some colourful, interesting and textured ideas surrounding the arguments of good vs evil, and this serves as a very good sign that the critics aren't wrong when handing over so much acclaim to this concluding installment to the Captain America trilogy.
What do you think of Tony's role in Civil War? Is he the greatest villain so far, or is he still a hero at heart? Let me know in the comments below!