when the first iron man movie came out in cinemas i was like... 12? or something and i thought iron man was THE BEST and tony was sooo funny. and then... you grow up and you go into the real world and you actually meet people like tony stark i.e. people who constantly antagonise others and are assholes just for the sake of being assholes and you realise... dude's not funny, he's just a douchebag.
I had this conversation with my mum like 2 days ago because she’d asked me what I thought of Homecoming and I told her that I thought it was really interesting the way they presented The Vulture and how I personally, had he not done the murdering people thing, really would not have called him a villain, and how I think Tony’s behaviour in the last few movies has been more villainous than the actual antagonists. And like we were really discussing it and she goes “It’s surprising to me how much you dislike Tony now, because when this Marvel movie thing all started, you were such a big fan of Iron Man, I wouldn’t have expected such a change in opinion” and she’s not wrong. When I was 11 years old with no real perspective, no real world context to apply to the media I was consuming, when I took everything at face value, he was a funny dude. He was sarcastic and I, like most people, like to laugh, and his films had quips and quick wit and they were funny to me at 11 years old.
However I’m not 11 years old anymore, I’m 20 years old, and I have travelled extensively, I have learnt so much more, I have broadened my world view, I have had my eyes opened to the reality of privilege vs oppression and the inequalities of our world, and I now know that men like Tony Stark are the men, that quite literally, get away with murder. They’re the men that are responsible for the massive inequalities in wealth across class systems. They’re the men that have grown up with everything, and don’t like to be told no, and feel they’re entitled to whatever they so desire. They’re the men that care about profit and not who suffers to get it for them. They’re the men who think it’s fine if they commit crimes because they’re rich and successful and renowned world over, so they’re never going to be punished for it. They’re the men that say and do disgusting things, but because they’re considered charming and personable, they get rewarded rather than punished. They’re the men that hurt other people but don’t get punished for it because the system wouldn’t want to ruin their life with that bad press.
So at 20 years old, aware of the society we live in, aware of the way the world is, and aware of how popular media shapes the way we as a species interact with each other and the world at large and the way we respond to other people, I can’t sit here and say “he’s flawed! but he’s still a hero! he’s trying!” because I really do not see him as one. I don’t see a rich and powerful man with an ego so big it would need it’s own private plane, who consistently ignores the advice of others because he thinks he knows better, buys himself out of all sorts of trouble that people less well off than him would be massively punished for, resorts to violence when he feels threatened/cornered/like things aren’t going his way - I don’t see that as heroic. I see that as someone who is being pandered to, when what they actually need is to be held accountable for the amount of negative stuff they’ve done. And I think the continuous excusing of his behaviours, and the placing of him on a pedestal despite his behaviours only highlights a bigger problem in society. In that if you’re rich and popular you’re basically untouchable, and even more so if you’re white. It’s something we see all the time in real life too, the fact that Justin Bieber can do the amount of dumbass things he’s done, and treated his fans as badly as he has and yet still somehow has a career is one example. Donald Trump being the fucking president of the United States is another example on a much larger scale.
I just can’t see him as a good guy, or even as a flawed character still worth investing in anymore, because I see enough men like Tony Stark in every aspect of my daily life. And they’re exhausting in the real world and he’s exhausting in this fictional one.