The first Iron Man movie is officially 15 years old. It is amazing to think that only 15 years ago is when the Marvel Cinematic Universe really took off. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is when it all began, his legacy and journey to becoming the guy in the sports-car-red and gold suit was a heartfelt story for fans all over the world. We get to watch a “broken man” using various ways of romantic relationships, expensive belongings, and other unhealthy habits as a way to deal with his mental war.
Many might claim that Tony Stark didn’t have any mental problems through the first movie but that he was just a stuck-up rich guy. However, I have to highly disagree with that one. Of course, Tony Stark wasn’t all-around the ideal person when it came to his habits and personality. He hardly even blinked an eye at anything. This does give away the possibility of him “not having mental illness,” but I deem it untrue.
Tony Stark never felt loved by his father, as he was always working and pushing his son away. This is what we come to learn more and more through the MCU phases that include Iron Man. This leads up all the way until Endgame, right before his journey comes to an end…but we shall not speak of that. While we learn how his dad made him feel unloved, unaccepted, and unappreciated, we learn about his mom, and we see how possibly there was a lot more of a bond there than he had with his father.
In Captain America: Civil War, we learn that no other than Bucky Barnes, AKA. The Winter Soldier himself, murdered both Mr. and Mrs. Stark. This was something that immediately broke out the Civil War between all the superheroes even more, and with good reason. The whole time Steve Rogers, Captain America, knew about it and hadn’t ever told Tony. However, it is definitely possible that Steve thought telling him wouldn’t do him any good now in his life – Steve and his old man’s wisdom.
When I personally look at Tony Stark, I see a much deeper meaning to so many of his actions in the movies. In the Iron Man timeline, we go from seeing him as a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” in the opening sequences until he is captured and tortured, soon realizing that his very own weapons and creation are being used for evil. Imagine learning that your whole life’s work, your whole life’s education, everything was doing what feels like nothing but harm.
After Tony sees this, he wants to make a life change. He immediately learns how to build a suit to carry a man that he can use to protect innocent people. This is also around the time we finally see the spark between Tony and Pepper, and we see a softer side to Tony. Fast forwarding to the second Marvel‘s Iron Man movie, we get to see a lot of him growing in new directions, but his hardheadedness still stands strong as he is on the edge of dying the whole movie.
By the time we get to the third movie, Tony has already saved the earth once, and this triggers a whole new world of anxiety for his character. This especially comes into play when he claims he needs to protect the only thing that he can’t live without, Pepper Potts. This is the moment when we realize so much about Tony and who he is deep down.
While some fans might see Tony Stark as the tough guy deep down, he really isn’t – sorry, Tony. But instead, he is a soft man that just wants to feel loved and needed after a long life of being used or under-cared for. Before we get to the end of Endgame, we see Tony having a daughter with Pepper, and his legacy will hopefully continue through her.
So yes, while Tony Stark is a hardheaded man that only sees things his way, he is that way for the good reason of his end goal – protecting those he loves. It is very important to hold onto the good things in life, and Tony teaches us that. He also shows fans that sometimes family isn’t there the way that we need them to be, but that even still, we can have a beautiful life, whether that be having a family or starting your own multi-million dollar business. Not only that, but we got to watch him die the most honorable death…which kills me to even speak about.
Iron Man deserves to be celebrating his 15 years of existence. Without it, we wouldn’t have the amazing MCU that we do today. The sad part is, we will never see another Iron Man quite like Robert Downey Jr. But at least…we’ll love him 3000, forever.