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Iron Man – The Worst Avenger?

Iron Man has a cool suit. But that’s it. If you took the suit away he’s just a cocky rich arse, a crap Batman without the pathos. He’s smarmy and over-privileged, his movies have a weird lack of coherent storytelling and even his villains are lame. Even Iron Man 3 didn’t think The Mandarin was a decent bad guy. His fellow Avengers, Hawkeye and Black Widow have martial arts experience, Thor is the God of freaking Thunder, the Hulk is, well, the Hulk, and captain America has extensive combat training and superhuman strength. Tony Stark (without the suit) is a spoilt brat. And before you say it, I know, I know so is Bruce Wayne. But at least Bruce Wayne is actually doing the fighting.  JARVIS flies Iron Man’s suit, he launches the weapons, and he aims the guns. Tony Stark just kind of suggests what to do.

Throughout the Avengers movies, Tony Stark tries to provoke his team mates. He mocks Captain America, calling him useless. He mocks Thor –bad move- who is, again, the God of freaking Thunder. He tries to enrage the Hulk (who would ultimately destroy everything) and he provokes Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark is the only one trying to start these fights, none of the others are.

In the first Avenger’s movie people give Iron Man all the credit for the battle when he did little to no work. He flew around the city, leading the Chitauri forces to the other Avengers so they could take care of them. He killed very few himself. The only credit I give him is the nuke, but I’ll explain my problem with that. Yes, Iron Man did save the island of Manhattan from being destroyed. HOWEVER, he did not have to go into the portal along with the nuke. It still had fuel, all he had to do was redirect it and it would have flown itself into the portal. This renders Iron Man’s “sacrifice” completely pointless. Also, there were other Avengers who could have taken care of the nuke: Thor can also fly, and Hulk could have thrown it like a football. He just so happened to be the one Nick Fury called.

When Tony Stark is outside of the suit, he is an arrogant jokester who causes a ton of problems and makes fun of things. The moment he is in the suit, he is ready for action, completely serious, and full of pretty quotes. I’m sorry, but I personally don’t think putting on a suit causes such a drastic personality change. Unlike Thor and the Hulk, Iron Man is not invincible. At all. Neither are the other Avengers, but I feel like this is just another negative thing about Iron Man. Sure, he has a fairly resistant metal suit, but one good swing from the Hulk, or Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer) and Iron Man is toast. Additionally, Thor was able to crush Iron Man’s armour with his bare hands. Just saying…

Tony Stark also calls Phil Coulson an idiot because Phil was the only person on the Helicarrier who actually tried to stop Loki. Having a go at Phil Coulson is like shouting at a kitten.

As for Iron Man’s popularity, you can blame Robert Downey Jr. for that one. People have forgotten that before the 2008 Iron Man movie was made, Iron Man was hardly Marvel’s most popular character. Oh, he was an Avenger, sure, but he was nowhere near the level of fame that Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, the X-Men, or even Thor had. Some people thought Marvel was crazy by making their first Marvel movie about the character. They also thought they were crazy for casting Robert Downey Jr. in the role, because this was like his fourth comeback after drug rehab. But it worked, and now Iron Man (and RDJ) is basically the biggest star of the Marvel movie-verse which is why Avengers is so Iron Man-centric.

As for Robert Downey Jr, the once marvellously witty and resourceful actor has spent the years since 2008 raking in dough from three franchises: Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and The Avengers (this last reportedly earned him a pay check of $50 million). And to be fair, by tent pole standards he’s good in these movies because he has a sense of fun and is smart enough to never take anything in Hollywood quite seriously—not even the movies he’s in. Of course, the trouble with swanning through hero roles you can do in your sleep is that your better instincts start dozing. (The Johnny Depp syndrome) Does anyone these days seem more self-satisfied on the red carpet than Downey? He has fallen deeply into shtick, and forgotten how to play, and underplay, with others. Yes, he was funny in blackface in Tropic Thunder, does a droll cameo in Chef, and gives us a “deeper” Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 than in Iron Man 2, yet everything about Downey’s current career embodies the safe, mainstream showbiz horror to which, as a young man, he appeared to be an antidote.

He has gone from being a precious lost soul who people really cared about to a raging success in soulless entertainment machines. It’s not only that he now says things you’d expect to hear from an agent—“Beware the passion project,” he recently told The Hollywood Reporter.  It’s that, despite already being worth tens, maybe hundreds of millions, he’s hoping to do a Perry Mason movie (please spare me) as well as a third Sherlock Holmes film, even though the only Sherlock that matters is the TV version with Benedict Cumberbatch. People live and breathe that TV show all over the world.  And while they may go see Downey’s Sherlock movies, too (they’ve grossed a billion dollars), they don’t actually mean anything to anybody—not even Downey.

It’s clear this man needs a Downaissance, a recovery even grander than the already fabled McConnaissance. Where twangy Matthew McConaughey merely made a comeback from hits (and a certain amount of mockery), Downey needs to bounce back from worldwide success.

I’d hate to think he’s gone over to the bland side forever. It would be great to see him star in something where he isn’t cushioned by money and stardom and vanity, something quirky and daring that scares him a bit and enlivens his senses. Something like the massively under rated ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’,  After all, one thing I used to love about Robert Downey, Jr. was that he never seemed to be in it for the money.

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Stephen Pryde-Jarman is a Cult TV and Film journalist, award winning short story writer, playwright and screenwriter. A natural hoarder, second hand shopping fulfils his basic human need for hunter-gathering; but rummaging through a charity shop’s bric-a-brac shelf also brought him the inspiration for his novel Rubble Girl having seen a picture of a Blitz survivor sat amongst the rubble of her house with a cup and saucer. Rubble Girl has been described as " thought-provoking" and "fast paced ... with plenty of twists and turns." Amazon.

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