How Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man Teaches Us To Deal With Our Mistakes
Tony Stark/Iron Man has and always will be a futurist. The definition of a futurist is “a person who studies the future and makes predictions about it based on current trends.” Tony Stark takes that one step further and practices the ideas that he has of the future by creating technologies decades ahead of the modern world. Whether for necessity or fun, Stark has always been on the bleeding edge of what tomorrow has to offer, but he hasn’t gotten that way without making mistakes.
One of the best things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been its ability to show the highlights of some of Marvel Comics’ best characters. Not just their best moments but some of their most iconic character traits. With character arcs finally ending, now is the best time to see how some of these characters have been adapted and how their growth can teach us some lessons that we can take into our everyday lives. With Tony Stark’s arc (Tony St-arc?) ending, let’s see what can be learned from one of his biggest qualities, failing.
Since the very first film, Tony Stark became a master at making mistakes. Whether it is based on his hubris or through a drunken stupor, Tony was always disappointing someone, if not himself. Following the original film, Tony’s decisions begin to affect those closest to him, along with himself. This includes making the call to hide his Palladium poisoning in Iron Man 2 from his closest friends. This is a trend Tony continues with him playing spy in Avengers, which creates distrust among the team.
By Iron Man 3, Tony’s past slowly begins to haunt him as he struggles with PTSD and the lingering fear of the unknown. After treating a scientist disrespectfully in the past, he returns with a vengeance to make Iron Man pay for seemingly living consequence-free after becoming Iron Man. What makes the third film so unique is that while it may not be the fan’s most favorite, it offers the deepest look into Tony’s mind and how it has changed him in the future.
As we enter Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony aspires to protect the entire world from any threats similar to what happened in the Avengers. This forces him to tinker, the only thing that he can do to cope with his past traumas. By doing so, he uses his futurism as more of a wall to hide behind, which inadvertently leads him to his next mistake, Ultron,
By playing things too safe, Tony creates a potential world ending threat in the AI Ultron and, since then, decides to hang up the armor for a while to try and settle down and live for himself and Pepper. This, of course, doesn’t last long as Captain America: Civil War sees Tony doing his best to try to keep the Avengers together. The only reason this is so important to him is that he knows that they are the only force that can keep the earth safe. That fear of the unknown ends up driving a wedge in the Avengers, and that wedge is further driven by the revelation that the Winter Soldier killed his parents. In this case, Tony’s biggest mistake was driving Cap away and letting his emotions rule him (but can you blame a guy who is staring at his mother’s killer?)
Time heals all wounds, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is where we see Tony living with the choices he has made and pushing forward. Not for himself, but to make sure Peter doesn’t make the same mistakes he did, which is proven to be more therapeutic for Tony than he may have expected. By Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos unveils himself and his plans, and Tony’s worst fears come to light. Not only is a big threat here, but now he isn’t fighting with his team. He may as well be all alone. To twist the knife even more so, it’s partly his fault. These choices in his past, both good and mostly bad, culminating in yet another failure. This failure, however, eliminates half of all life in the universe.
By the end, it takes five years for Tony to forgive Captain America for what transpired following the end of Civil War, but Tony realizes that he has a chance to make up for everything. All of those years of wrong moves or bad choices can now count for something good in the end. Avengers: Endgame sees a genius like Tony Stark both vulnerable and much wiser. Everything he has done culminates into one chance to stand on the wire and let others pass, as Captain America once said. At the end of the Infinity Saga, Tony Stark showed the world that he never let his mistakes rule him.
One of the best lessons that Tony Stark exemplifies in the MCU is how we shouldn’t let our mistakes rule our lives. It takes a special type of mindset to overcome our faults and live our lives to the fullest. Still, if anyone else serves as a great example, it’s the man behind the mask, Robert Downey Jr. Before his role as Tony, RDJ was dealing with addiction and many other issues that were made public. But rather than let those choices define him, both internally and externally, he got himself together and ended up redefining one of Marvel’s most beloved characters.
We all make mistakes, and we all have faults. At times we may feel like they weigh a million pounds as they rest on our shoulders. However, while some of these things were our choices, it is also our choice to let the guilt or shame go. Almost every negative can become positive, and the universe has a funny way of making us pay our debts in full. The best thing we can do is take a page out of a certain futurist’s book and keep going, no matter how heavy the weight. Learn from your mistakes, turn your faults into something better and never hesitate. It may be hard to take that first step and forgive yourself, but as a wise man once said, “sometimes you have to run before you can walk.”
Thank you guys for giving my post a read and thank you for being so understanding of my wonky scheduling this week! As a thank you I have a brand new episode of my podcast, The Next Panel with Nick and Jake! Also, make sure to give my Black Panther write-up a read! Spread the word and follow me on my social media! Stay Safe, Stay Happy, and Stay Fresh!