tmc movies

Iron Man's Personality in the Movies

The Adult Child

What just happened?

We’re given subtle hints throughout both movies that Tony Stark has some very childlike qualities. He’s a man who was forced to grow up quickly as a child (he built a circuit board when most children are showing off bridges made of colorful blocks) because the label of child prodigy was thrust upon him right away. He was expected to do great things, which for him were things that most adults struggle with. He had to learn how to behave in front of the cameras and was more than likely unable to put his toe the slightest bit over the line without getting into trouble. As a result, Tony sort of grew up backwards in a sense. In the deleted scene (linked above), Tony is shown having his own version of a hissy fit with Pepper and Rhodey. When Pepper tries to tell him that he needs to do something he responds with “I’m Iron Man” and his arms are crossed over his chest. He does make a valid point as to what his duties include, but instead of handling it as an adult would, Tony feels this is the best way to get his point across. And when Rhodey tells Tony he cannot go to Monaco with them because he has responsibilities, Tony argues with him. Rhodey then tells him that spending time with him is bad for their friendship. Tony has no idea what this means or what just happened between them because he is unable to rationalize relationships like a normal adult would.

It has also been shown that Tony is clingy and easily upset when Rhodey and Pepper have other friends or plans that don’t involve him. He has difficulty with boundaries and understanding that he is not the center of their universe (even though he still sort of is). He thinks that throwing his money around is a way to get people to like him, the mentality that giving people nice things is a way to make friends. He feels like the only way he can have friends is by bribing them with something enticing instead of people just liking him for who he is. He wants their attention and he wants to be validated.

Craving Attention

It’s a well-known fact that Howard Stark didn’t find it necessary to give Tony any sort of positive attention as a child. Tony opens up and says that his father never told him he loved him or liked him and that he thought being shipped off to boarding school was the happiest day of his father’s life. Even if this had not been the case (as Fury gave indication to), Tony was still lacking in the love and affection that every child needs to grow developmentally and emotionally. And what do people do when they crave attention? They act out. They do things that force people to pay attention to them, regardless of the fact that they might be getting negative attention instead of positive. Tony will always be the kid who is screaming “look at me, look at me, look what I can do!” He wants people to be proud of him, but he does not know how to ask for it. He demands the attention of any room he is in, and if Pepper and Rhodey are preoccupied he makes sure they notice him. When he is not receiving attention he is probably the loneliest human being despite the crowd surrounding him. He craves the one on one and badly needs the affection he was robbed of as a child.

Loneliness

Growing up as an only child in a mansion with a father who cared more about his life work than his own son and a mother who is barely mentioned to the point you have to wonder if she even existed, you have to wonder how much time Tony spends feeling so lonely despite being in a crowded room. It’s bad enough that he has trouble identifying with other people but he puts on a false bravado in front of people and pretends he’s on top of the world. He is often seen working by himself, talking to his AI and robots who will never leave him, who provide him with entertainment. Tony was a child who had to rely on himself for entertainment and quickly came to believe that he would always have to do everything alone, without help, without a shoulder to lean on. How lonely must it be to be so much smarter than every child your own age and not be able to carry on a normal conversation? He can’t even figure out how to properly express his feelings and emotions. When he’s scared he hides it behind snark and still tries to deal with it on his own.

Working Alone

I’m Thinking of a Number Between 1 and 5

When Tony Stark says he isn’t a team player, he’s not lying. Natasha recognizes this, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be a team player. It’s just not his preferred way of dealing with things. In this scene above, not only do we see Tony skip out on a chance to have a threesome, he takes off in his suit to take care of some business in a town called Gulmira. He doesn’t tell anyone what he’s doing. He’s using this party as a cover, using sex as a cover (no one will notice that he isn’t where he said he would be), and goes off on his own. He knows he could not make it out alive, but he does not inform anyone as to what he is doing. He’s always had to handle everything alone and is not capable of asking for help when he needs it the most. This is most obvious in Iron Man 2 when he is sick. Rhodey even tries to help at one point, but Tony is forever under the impression that he is alone, that he will always be alone and that no one else can help him because every mess is his responsibility and his responsibility alone. How can you learn to ask for help when there was no one around to teach you how to do so as a child?

Snark Defense Mechanism

Tony treats many things like a joke. When situations become too tense, he will become snarky and try to lighten the mood with a funny comment because otherwise he is unsure of how to handle a moment or an emotion that is too strong for him. Tony is an insecure child on the inside. He doesn’t know how to love himself. He doesn’t want anyone to know this though, doesn’t want anyone to see him as vulnerable or weak, so instead he uses snark to cover it up and keep people at a distance. Why not when the last person who he trusted, who saw him vulnerable more than once, used his insecurities against him while trying to kill him? He might piss people off with his attitude, but it’s better than having to talk about feelings when he has no idea how to properly express himself in the first place.

Any other thoughts are more than welcome for discussion on this. These are only brief summaries of areas I could discuss for hours. I am always observing Tony’s character in the movies and picking up on things here and there. I’m not saying that I’m right on all of this at all, but I enjoy looking at the psychology of a character, and one as flawed and broken as Tony Stark is indeed a very interesting study.

Dehumanizing a Genius: Not Everyone Runs on Batteries.

Despite outward appearances, it is common knowledge that Tony Stark has little self-worth and more than his fair share of self-hatred. I think it’s important to note that Tony has, at several points in his life, been treated as less than human and more as an object for the personal gain of others. Instances of this are witnessed in MCU, and these are all examples that cut quite deep and have an equally important and damaging effect on the mind of a man who already sees himself as broken beyond repair.

By the end of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark has been through more in the span of less than a year (MCU timeline dictates that no more than six months have passed between Iron Man and Iron Man 2) than most people will undergo in a lifetime. He places little value on the importance of his life, but his role as Iron Man is a task he sees as a way to redeem himself and hopefully prove that one day he can be a good man.

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Tony Stark and Friends

Anthony Edward “Tony" Stark (title character)

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., but who wouldn’t know this at this point?) is the son of genius Howard Stark (a younger version of Howard is visited in Captan America: First Avenger). In addition to being a genius, he is well-known also for his money, being a playboy and getting into trouble. At the start of Iron Man, we see a character who self-centered and completely oblivious to what is really happening in the world. He is arrogant and inconsiderate of those around him. His worldview changes after spending three months in captivity and he comes out a new man. He now relies on a piece of machinery to keep him alive after shrapnel from one of his own weapons was embedded into his chest, and after he witnesses those he thought he was protecting actually die because of his weapons being in the wrong hands he completely ceases weapon development at Stark Industries and decides to put his genius and inventions to better use. He begins building himself suits of armor and uses these to fight against initially those part of the Ten Rings, but eventually will go on to fight against any villain in order to protect those around him as he had intended and hopes to redeem himself at the same time. While Iron Man is initially a secret project by Tony, by the end of the first movie he has admitted to the world that he is Iron Man.

Iron Man 2 takes place months after the first one ends and we learn fairly quickly that Tony is dying from palladium poisoning. He spends the movie trying to find a cure while pissing off everyone and pushing them away yet striving to get all of his affairs in order. The only one who knows he is dying is JARVIS (or so we think) until Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff reveal they have knowledge of his condition and help him find out the cure for his blood poisoning. The other part of this movie consists of Tony trying to keep his armor from the military and the hands of Justin Hammer (and also Ivan Vanko). He insists that he and the suit are one and that he made it and the military can therefore not have it.

Tony changes a bit after a few humbling life experiences, but the one thing that will always remain constant is his personality. Despite everything, he is still snarky, loves to joke around in his own way ("Is everything a joke to you?”) and will counter everyone with public perceptions of overconfidence and arrogance. He deeply cares for those important to him though even if he is not willing or necessarily able to show it.

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Thor 2 of 4: Important Information

     Setting

Thor is largely set on Earth, in the small town of Puente Antiguo, New Mexico where Thor has been sent to serve his exile and where Jane heads her research. A number scenes are set in Asgard, however, around the throne room, Odin’s sleep room, and the vault where Asgard’s treasures are kept. A few scenes are also featured in Jotunheim, the realm of the frost giants.

     Characters

  • Main Characters: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
  • Supporting Roles: Odin, Erik Selvig, Darcy Lewis, Lady Sif & the Warriors Three, Heimdall, Phil Coulson, Frigga, Laufey
  • Minor Roles: S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Asgardians, frost giants, townspeople of Puente Antiguo

     Detailed Plot Summary

In AD 965, Odin, king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey, to prevent them from conquering thenine realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

In the present, Odin’s son Thor prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin’s order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki, childhood friend Sif and the Warriors Three: Volstagg, Fandral and Hogun. A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor’s arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth as a mortal, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir, now protected by an enchantment that allows only the worthy to wield it.

Thor lands in New Mexico, where astrophysicist Jane Foster, her assistant Darcy Lewis and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig, find him. The local populace finds Mjolnir, which S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson soon commandeers before forcibly acquiring Jane’s data about the wormhole that delivered Thor to Earth. Thor, having discovered Mjolnir’s nearby location, seeks to retrieve it from the facility that S.H.I.E.L.D. quickly constructed but he finds himself unable to lift it, and is captured. With Selvig’s help, he is freed and resigns himself to exile on Earth as he develops a romance with Jane.

Loki discovers that he is actually Laufey’s son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. A weary Odin falls into the deep “Odinsleep” to recover his strength. Loki seizes the throne in Odin’s stead and offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three, unhappy with Loki’s rule, attempt to return Thor from exile, convincing Heimdall, gatekeeper of the Bifröst—the means of traveling between worlds—to allow them passage to Earth. Aware of their plan, Loki sends the Destroyer, a seemingly indestructible automaton, to pursue them and kill Thor. The warriors find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, prompting Thor to offer himself instead. Struck by the Destroyer and near death, Thor’s sacrifice proves him worthy to wield Mjolnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and enabling him to defeat the Destroyer. Kissing Jane goodbye and vowing to return, he and his fellow Asgardians leave to confront Loki.

In Asgard, Loki betrays and kills Laufey, revealing his true plan to use Laufey’s attempt on Odin’s life as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge, thus proving himself worthy to his adoptive father. Thor arrives and fights Loki before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki’s plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge’s destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall when Odin rejects his pleas for approval. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king; while on Earth, Jane and her team search for a way to open a portal to Asgard.

     The History Behind Thor

The story of Thor, like it is referenced by Erik Selvig is one that draws from Norse Mythology. According to MCU, the tales told by the ancient Nords were in fact based on truths, and the gods to which they referenced were actually the Asgardians that would visit Earth. This is confirmed numerous times in the movie, either as direct quotes from the Asgardians or within the researched performed by Erik Selvig, Darcy Lewis, and Jane Foster following Thor’s fall to Earth.

 

     Relationship with the comics

Marvel’s influence on the film is not a new one. Development for the Thor movie had been in the works since 2001, with a direct reference to the Marvel Thor comics. It was the comics character that highly influenced much of the production of the movie, from the director to the tone. Thor’s release also coincided with a number of comics releases and influenced a number more following it and its sister films’ success. The film’s portrayal of Thor combines the classic Marvel Comics character (Thor is cast down to earth to as punishment for his arrogance) with the Marvel “Ultimate” character (Thor is dismissed by many on earth as a crazy deluded man).

     Thor’s role in the MCU

While not the first in a long line of prequels for The Avengers, Thor played a large role in the establishment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was in Thor that viewers were first introduced to one of the six future Avengers as well as the main villain, Loki. Loki’s role in The Avengers would be largely determined the outcome of Thor, while key elements of the universe were also established in this film. The growing importance of S.H.I.E.L.D., the existence of other worlds, the relationship between technology and magic, and the continuation from Iron Man’s story lines were all featured in this film.

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