âYou have my respect, Stark. When I’m done, half of humanity will still be alive. I hope they will remember you.
I don’t know about any of you, but when Thanos said those words coldly, the cinema let out a collective hiccup. That scene on Titan was monumental, and it’s easily one of the MCU collective’s most memorable scenes. I think it’s safe to say that Tony Stark’s Iron Man is the most recognizable hero in the Marvelverse, especially in his movies. Robert Downey, Jr. brought the lovable “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” to life in a breathtaking and awe-inspiring way, and many attribute his performance to the films’ worldwide success. Yes, Thanos may have won in Infinity war, but if those End of Game the trailers tell us anything, they tell us that such a success will be short-lived. Thanos pissed off bad heroes and Tony Stark is leading such a wave. Of course, this exchange between Thanos and Tony was only suitable for introducing Marvel’s most iconic superheroes, but has Iron Man always been the gold and purple warrior we need to save the universe? ?
Making his first appearance in the very famous Tales of Suspense in 1963, Tony Stark was cast in the role of a superhero. I’ll say the MCU has done a pretty decent job of portraying Stark’s origin on the big screen, but there are a few variations. First, Stark was captured by a terrorist in Tales of Suspense # 39, but he wasn’t in war-torn Afghanistan; instead, he was wounded and captured by Wong-Cho in Vietnam. As any Marvel fan or comic book apologist will know, many of Stan Lee’s early works dealt with political unrest in America or elsewhere in the world. Characters like Captain America and Iron Man have capitalized on our nation’s patriotic strength, and these Marvel superheroes have served as an inspiration to many around the world.
Tony Stark was no different in this regard. In fact, many attribute its status and charm to that of former President John F. Kennedy. Much of the nation adopted his cool demeanor when he took office in 1960, but that presidential legacy was notoriously cut short on November 22, 1963. Tony Stark made his debut that same year in March, so the comparisons drawn between these two men were seen as a little later in the decade. Although Lee never confirmed such rumors, JFK was an advocate for a military presence in Vietnam, and Tony Stark became Iron Man in that different country. Coincidence?
The 2008 release of Iron Man has proven pivotal in building the MCU, and I think a lot of the film’s influence can be attributed to its heavy reliance on Lee’s vision for the character. Aside from the location and villains featured in that first film, Iron Man’s origin was pretty specific in terms of his comedic counterpart. Such precision is evidenced by the character of Ho Yinsen (played by Shaun Toub), the man responsible for saving Tony’s life by inserting an electromagnet into this chest and sacrificing his own life for it. Tony’s escape. In the film, the two build the Arc Reactor, a device conceptualized by Tony’s father, Howard. Being a graduate of MIT, Stark idolized Yinsen’s work, so it was fitting that such an influential figure would help create the Iron Man nickname and costume.
This is where I would usually discuss our hero’s superpowers and abilities, but I really don’t think Iron Man needs to be introduced. However, there are a few interesting tricks the MCU has taken from its comedic legacy. If you remember the plot around the Extremis soldiers in Iron man 3, you will know that the genetic strands of such nanotechnology are seriously flawed. The way such a mutation is portrayed in the movie is a bit similar to the repulsor technology that Zeke Stane (son of Obadiah Stane) uses to turn people into bombs in the comics. Much like the movie, Pepper Potts is transformed into one of those weapons and she almost lost her life. Well, Extremis tech is a bit more advanced / positive in the comics, and Tony even injects himself into Extremis after sustaining life-threatening injuries in combat. With the Extremis manipulation, Stark is able to heal faster and have a genetic connection to his armor. Another fun twist in the comics involves Stark’s role in protecting the Infinity Gem / Stone from Space. The Space Stone allows him to exist anywhere, manipulate objects across the galaxy, and control space.
Some of Iron Man’s most worthy foes have been featured on the big screen before: Obadiah Stane (the Iron Monger), the Ten Rings, the Mandarin, Ivan Vanko (Whiplash), and Justin Hammer. Aside from these characters, Iron Man regularly fights The Controller, AIM / MODOK, Crimson Dynamo, and Madame Masque. Most of the villains Iron Man meets endanger the safety of the American people, and the stereotypical terrorist manifesto is often shared by these villains.
All good things come to an end, and death guarantees that such a statement is true for human beings. Tony Stark is an exception. Leaving the Iron Man moniker behind in 2016, Stark has found a way to copy his being to AI, and he’s now helping another MIT graduate and new Iron Man / Ironheart Riri Williams. The AI ââtechnology is similar to Stark’s creation of JARVIS, but he has taken the technology a step further and can now project a hologram of himself to communicate with Riri. As Riri notes in the comics, it’s almost like Tony Stark is a “tech ghost.” Another interesting twist placed on Tony Stark’s character is his transition to Sorcerer Supreme. (Note: If you haven’t looked at the Generations line, you absolutely need to.) Generations: Iron Man and Ironheart the story centers around Stark for a few pages, but fans can see Tony repeating the popular nickname Doctor Strange and finally meeting his prodigy face to face.
AI Tony and Sorcerer Supreme Tony are both possibilities for MCU Phase 4 and beyond, especially if the MCU creator decides to split the Infinity Stones and protect them by various superheroes. I think Robert Downey, Jr. is far too important and influential for the MCU, and removing him completely from future phases could prove costly both in the script and at the box office. I know movie contracts and deals are often published and known, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this franchise it’s that they can keep a secret, unless you’re Tom Holland or Mark Ruffalo. Some actors have publicized their releases after filming for End of Game wrapped up, and these characters will certainly be missed. I just hope RDJ isn’t one of them.
From now on, Marvel-ous Mondays will feature characters in relation to the upcoming Avengers: Endgame. Discussing the roles and possible outcomes leading up to Marvel’s most anticipated film to date is a lot of fun, so if there’s a character you’d like to read about, feel free to comment here or on social media.
Jon Maus is a high school English teacher and pop culture enthusiast. He has a BS and an ME in English. Some of his favorite fandoms include The Walking Dead, Marvel, Disney, Back to the Future, and Karate Kid.