Tony Stark – Marvel’s Cinematic Masterpiece

“Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” – with four words Joss Whedon defined the character of Tony Stark for a generation.  But it was never the words alone that transformed a b-level character into a worldwide icon and the anchor for a groundbreaking interconnected cinematic universe.  It was the man inside the armor delivering those lines.  While it’s easy to forget, eleven years and twenty-two films in, back in 2008 Marvel Studios was far from a sure thing.  Marvel had sold their most successful characters (Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four) to other studios and was left to make their own movies with their second tier.  Robert Downey Jr. made it work.  He incarnated Tony Stark perfectly, seamlessly blending cockiness and charisma, arrogance and vulnerability, snark and heart.  He presented a character who resonated and who meant something.  He carried the world of comic books into the mainstream on his armored shoulders, all but single-handedly paving the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  No matter how much brilliance followed in his wake, this is why Tony Stark will always be Marvel’s cinematic masterpiece to me. Continue reading

Advertisements

Team Cap: A Realization

This is a sequel of sorts, to one of the earliest pieces I ever wrote on this site.  However, it isn’t a piece I was planning on writing now or, if I’m being honest, ever.  I wasn’t planning on writing tonight as I’m in D.C. for the PCA/ACA National Conference on Popular Culture.  My week’s focus is attending exciting panels and presenting my paper on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  So writing wasn’t on the agenda.  However I HAD to write because something’s been gnawing and I had to express it.  You see, last night my pre-Avengers: Endgame marathon came to Captain America: Civil War and, well, something struck me – something I never thought I’d see or say or believe.  But here we are. Continue reading

Ten Surprises I Found When I FINALLY Read Marvel’s Civil War

That’s right world, I finally did it!  I FINALLY read Marvel’s “Civil War.”  It only took me twelve years to do it :).  This was, arguably, the biggest thing to happen to comic books during my seventeen year break in reading them.  It was a company-wide crossover unlike anything Marvel had attempted before.  It was a story working perfectly in-universe while also serving as one of the defining allegories of the times.  Parts of it worked as comic books do when they are operating at their highest level.  It was a shining example of a modern myth.  Naturally, I’ve always been intrigued by it and it was certainly impossible (well impossible if you’re interested in comic books) to not have heard all about it.  So it’s been a treat, as I’ve spent the last few months reading this modern epic, to find a few things which legitimately surprised me. Continue reading

The Most Ridiculous Facet of Tony Stark’s Ego (In My Opinion)

It’s no secret, I love me some Iron Man.  Yes, Tony Stark can be a huge tool and our favorite “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” isn’t known for his humility or restraint.  He’s great.  He knows it.  And he’ll happily let you know it too.  However, I maintain Tony’s ego – and his struggle with both the trouble it brings and learning his own limitations – is part of what make him so important as a character.  While I doubt many of us have an ego quite the size of Mr. Stark’s, we all wrestle with ego.  Or at least I do.  So I see parts of myself in Tony Stark as well as lessons I need to learn.  I put a lot of value on that.  However, regardless of the relatability we (or at least I) can find in this particular fault, there is one MASSIVE expression of Tony Stark’s ego that even I find ridiculous.  Continue reading

A Question of Redemption: Doctor Doom the Infamous Iron Man

I’ve been thinking a lot about evil and redemption lately.  The first principle of Catholic Social Teaching affirms every human being is deserving of life and dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God.  Nothing can take that right away, not even their own destructive actions.  So there is always a line, theologically, between sinner and sin.  While the idea of redemption is theologically vital, we often struggle with it in the face of real world evil.  At least I know I do.  This cognitive dissonance begs the question is there a line, an evil act or actions we can’t return from?  Doctor Doom is a character uniquely suited to explore this question.  For decades he was the most evil villain in the Marvel Universe.  But over the last few years, in both Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man, Brian Michael Bendis put a newly reformed Victor Von Doom inside Tony Stark’s armor in an attempt to atone for all he’s done.  Now Fantastic Four has returned to the comic shelves and Doom’s future is a question mark once again.  Can someone like Doctor Doom ever truly be redeemed? Continue reading

The BIG Question: Would You Rather Be Iron Man or Batman?

I spent the last week in New Orleans for a conference…where I saw none of the city as I was stuck in 12+ hours of meetings/seminars/lectures every day.  BUT I did direct some of my mental energy towards contemplating one of life’s biggest, most pressing issues.  You see, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne essentially have the same character framework.  I’m not the first person to make this observation, but it’s true.  Both are insanely wealthy.  Both have brilliant minds.  Both run huge companies.  Both lost their parents when they were young (albeit in different circumstances).  Both became superheroes.  Both are founding/central members in one of their universe’s most important superhero teams – the Avengers and Justice League, respectively.  Despite their similarities though, they are two VERY different characters with VERY different lives…which leads us to our BIG question – if you could choose, would you rather be Iron Man or Batman??  Continue reading

From Tony to Riri and Back Again: Considering Iron Man’s Return

This week’s New Comic Book Day brings two major Marvel milestones.  The first, Tony Stark returns to active duty as the Armored Avenger, shaking off the coma that’s sidelined him since the end of Civil War II.  The second, The Invincible Iron Man #600 marks Brian Michael Bendis’s final Marvel comic.  There’s lots to reflect on with Bendis’s move to DC, to be sure.  However, as someone who writes often of the vital importance of Legacy Characters on this site, I’d rather discuss something else.  What does it mean for Riri Williams – for Ironheart – to have Tony return? Continue reading