Character Development Case Study #9 – Iron Man (Tony Stark)
(There will be spoilers!)
Tony Stark says it best when asked what he is without the suit: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. And that’s about all there is to it. There’s some stuff around his dad, but really, Stark is in many ways quite a two dimensional character. But because he’s such good fun, it doesn’t ever really matter.
Stark is self-absorbed and self-obsessed. He’s motivated by the puzzle, by proving he can beat something. He’s not a hero in the sense that many of the other Avengers are. Although that does start to come as his character develops, it’s telling that in Age of Ultron Tony pushes science to the limits just to see if he can, and manages to create an evil reflection of himself who’s every bit as narcissistic and arrogant, but happens to be hell bent on destroying the world.
The clever thing that Iron Man 3 did was take Tony Stark out of his suit. After his flippant ‘I’m Iron Man’ comment at the end of the first film, Stark and his suit are so synonymous, it’s difficult to separate one from the other. But Iron Man 3 reminds us of what made us love Tony Stark in the first place – his ingenuity. This is the man that was forced to make weapons for terrorists, but instead created a supersuit to bust his way out of there. He can think on his feet and create something amazing from nothing. His super power isn’t the suit, it’s his brain. So it’s not really development, as such, but a pertinent reminder that the character is capable and resourceful enough to deserve all those pithy one liners. Because arrogant characters can get old really quickly if you don’t feel that they balance that flaw. And Stark more than balances his.