Character Issues: Iron Man

The Stats:

Name:  Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark
Height: 6’1 (without armor) 6’6 (with armor)
Weight: 225 lbs
Powers: Marvel’s Best Engineer and Mechanic, Super Genius, Various Powered Armors
Type:  Swagged out Tech Demigod
Excels at: White Privilege
Fails at: Being a decent person

The Character:


Billionaire, Philanthropist, Playboy, Adventurer.  Tony Stark AKA Iron Man is a self-made hero. Armed only with a massive IQ and a bottomless amount of money, Tony proves that money is the only superpower that matters.  Tony is Marvel’s most heroic source of destruction.   In the interest of safety, Tony has lied to and/or taken advantage of nearly every other hero in the Marvel Universe.  He is the worst ‘Friend’ you could possibly have.  Tony doesn’t mean to take advantage of those close to him.   He isn’t malicious.  It’s just what he does.  If you identify as someone who fights evil and you work with Tony, there is a good chance that Tony has cloned you, made a plan to shoot you into space or designed an Armor specifically designed to kill you.  Nothing personal.  Tony is a futurist and the primary future he envisions is one where you will go rouge and he will be the only one to take you down.  So what happens if Tony goes rouge and all of his failsafes and precautions are used against the Superhero Community?  Oops! Tony didn’t see that coming.  Tony is only good a spotting your shortcomings and limitations, but pretty bad at seeing his own.

The Issues:

Tony is a terrible person.   He tries his best to be a honorable guy, but his solutions to problems typically involve screwing over a teammate, associate, friend or loved one.  He is casually and reflexively destructive but he really means well.  Pepper Pots, Happy Hogan and James Rhodes have all gotten a taste being unfortunate enough to be somebody Tony kind of trusts.  It’s difficult to explain the mechanics of this but I’ll try.   If you are one of Daredevil’s friends or loved ones, you are in mortal danger most of the time.  The laws of the Daredevil Universe insist that you must suffer horrifically.  Knowing Daredevil means the the world will never stop trying to maim or kill you.  Matt never does anything directly to to hurt you.  More times than not, he’s trying to save you.  The risk Tony places you in, is typically all engineered, orchestrated and executed by Tony.  It’s not that Tony hates you…he just doesn’t trust you.  He doesn’t trust you to make the right decision.  He doesn’t trust you to resist temptation.  He doesn’t trust your ability to sacrifice.  He doesn’t trust you because you are not Tony Stark.

Tony being Tony.

The Fix:

Here’s the thing.   Fixing Iron Man would ruin the character.  He is perfectly stained.  His position as the flawed perfectionist creates one of the most compelling characters in comics.  Tony may make horrible decisions, but his reasoning works with a bizarre and unmistakable moral calculus.  For all the things Tony is, he is not selfish. Tony is selfless to the point of mental illness.  He is driven to shoulder the burden of being the smartest guy in the room.  When you read Iron Man books, you quickly realize that most of the conflicts are created by Tony’s inability to put his trust in anybody besides himself.  Tony isn’t oblivious to his shortcomings, he just ignores them in the heat of the moment. His inner darkness is gives a unique edge to his most noble actions.  Tony’s flaws are handled in a way that gives the character a distinct personality. Tony’s victories must be tainted with failure in order to feel like an Iron Man title.


Plus he’s pretty damn funny.

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