Tony Stark and his mental state
Lately, the MCU fandom, especially the anti-Tony part of it, has been… an adventure, to say the least. I can’t even count on one hand how many posts I’ve seen dismissing Tony’s state of mind, or framing Bucky as the sole victim, or even comparing Tony’s and Bucky’s trauma so they can dismiss Tony.
Comparing trauma should never be done in any case, because trauma is valid. It doesn’t matter if the person you just met went through the worst things imaginable, your “comparatively” small trauma, whatever it may be, is still valid, and should never be erased in favour of anyone else.
And, well, since so many of you are insistent on doing just that, or calling Tony “whiny”, let’s look at what exactly people are erasing.
The most obvious first: Tony Stark was kidnapped, tortured and threatened by terrorists. He spent a lot of time with an imminent threat hanging above his head, plus, the shrapnel in his chest meant that he could die if he took too much time. He had an actual ticking time bomb in his chest, and still tried to figure out how to deny his captors what they wanted and escape.
Tony Stark almost drowned when his building got blown into the water. A near-death experience is traumatic, and a lot so at that.
Also, he almost suffocated in space, which is eerily similar to drowning. So not only does this mean that Tony has had two near-death-scenarios in a rather small time frame, it also means that the two are tied together, and will likely remain linked in his mind for a long time.
(And his Arc Reactor almost poisons him, so I guess that counts as another point in the near-death-experience-column.)
Tony Stark loses a lot of his loved ones. His parents die when he’s rather young, his father figure Obadiah betrays him and makes it clear that he thinks Tony nothing but a nuisance, and Pepper is heavily endangered, all because Tony is a superhero. The man barely has any close friends because he’s bad at interpersonal relationships to begin with; he can’t bear to lose the few he has left.
Tying into it is the fact that he saw a tape of the Winter Soldier murdering his parents. Yes, Bucky is not the Winter Soldier. Yes, Bucky is a victim and is not to blame for the deaths of all these people. But imagine being Tony Stark. Imagine losing your parents, being so guilty over it that you can never really let it go, imagine blaming yourself because that is what you do, you always blame yourself – and then imagine seeing them die. Seeing someone murder them. Seeing someone choke your mother to death despite her pleas for life. That, with the added stress of the Accords and trying to get his friends to stop going rogue, made Tony attack Bucky. He did not want him dead before he saw this video.
Furthermore, Tony has never been able to cope with his trauma efficiently, because nobody in this universe actually listens to him. His symptoms, his PTSD and guilt and self-damaging behaviour get written off by everyone around him to the point where Bruce Banner was asleep while Tony confided in him. Nobody gives a shit about his trauma! So Tony copes with substance abuse, and struggles with alcoholism on top of everything else, and that can’t be good for his psyche.
Tony is the sort of person who blames himself for everything. He wasn’t even there when Scarlet Witch accidentally blew up that building and killed these people at the start of Civil War. He was in no way affiliated with anything. But yet, he feels guilty, he feels responsible, and it honestly seems to me like he’s the only one who does.
Long story short: Tony Stark has survived so much, and his mental health has suffered from it. He has trauma. He’s not being whiny, this isn’t manpain, it’s actual, legitimate PTSD. This is nothing anyone should dismiss so lightly.
Yes, Bucky is a victim. Yes, Bucky has been severely traumatised as well. But Bucky is more than just a victim, just as Tony is more than just a victim. They’re both morally complex people, and the way some of you tear down one just to woobify the other is frankly insulting to the characters and their writers.
Be Team Cap. Be Team whoever the fuck you want – but please, please respect Tony and the things he’s had to endure. Please try to understand where he’s coming from.
And whatever you do, don’t shit on the actor.