Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning you setup your hero (or heroine) and his story, then you throw something at him that is a great source of conflict and takes him into a whole heap of trouble. After facing many foes and overcoming various obstacles the hero saves the day. An archetypal story pattern, The hero's journey.

Tony Starks journey began the moment he left that cave in his Mark 1 armor. First it was about his own security, than his friends and finally the whole world. Let's talk about the evolution of Tony Stark in the MCU.

In 'Iron Man 1', he moved away from selling weapons and focused on Iron Man. He felt responsible.

In 'Iron Man 2', he resisted government oversight, and didn’t trust them (rightfully so. That senator that wanted his suit was Hydra).

In 'Avengers', he did not trust SHIELD, and immediately hacked Fury as soon as he got on the Helicarrier. It’s because of the Battle of New York. Tony has always been an enormous control freak, someone who needs to manage every aspect of events and sees himself as always bigger than the problem. Here, we see him deal with a threat larger than he had imagined and it caused the PTSD he suffered in the third film. And his fear over what could happen pushes him to create Ultron and it blows up in his face. Guilt on guilt on guilt.
 He was the absolute worst person to go through a hole in space and see an alien armada bigger than any army Earth has ever fielded in the entirety of human history.

In ‘Iron Man 3', he saw the consequences on a personal level; having a problem bigger than he is led him to feel like everything in his life was spinning out of control. He stopped trusting himself, and began letting go. He made an army of robots to stop any crime/solve any problem. The crux of the culmination of IM2 & IM3, He had to deal with “demons of his own creation” - people he’d pissed off and ended up turning into villains who’ve harmed people in the process. More guilt placed on him, showing it or not.

In 'Age of Ultron', he wanted to create a system that could do the protecting for him, so he didn’t have to. It began with the Iron Legion (those drones), and ended with Ultron. I think his character is fairly consistent in that respect. Tony tries to help humanity with weaponized brilliance, oversteps because of his ego, then feels ISHT-y and tries to compensate. Usually Overcompensating. Which usually restarts the cycle. The PTSD—Wanda had to barely even nudge him to convince him that he had to build an unstoppable army of killer robots just in case the Chitauri came back. 

And in ‘Civil War’, we see him finally accept that he can’t solve the problem single-handedly...leading him to decide to micro-manage every other superhero in the world into getting on board with his new solution, because he still can’t let go of the need to be in charge of fixing everything. 

Tony’s entire arc has been all about dealing with the unintended consequences of Avenging. He’s done a complete 180 since 'Iron Man 1', gradually over all six of these movies.

That’s the unbelievable beauty of the narratives in the MCU - Tony and Steve (A.K.A Captain America) have basically flipped positions with each other when considering their initial character stances (Tony as a private weapons contractor who thinks he’s above reproach, Steve wanting to give of himself to a larger cause) and this happens because they’re not static characters. Events throughout the MCU have moved them into the other’s shoes - starting with Avengers and continuing Winter Solider, Steve realizes that even the large government-sanctioned institution, one started by the EFF-ing woman he loved, can become corrupt and ultimately his own judgment is the only one he can trust; Tony, thanks to 'Age of Ultron', realizes that his assumptions about the level of control he has over situations is not perfect and if somebody like him, even with the best intentions, could create an AI that destroys an entire city, then oversight needs to be a factor. And, they’ve done it without being quite as biased about Stark’s righteousness as the comic version was: Ultron showed us that it’s not about power, it’s about “wanting to put a suit of armor around the whole world.”

It’s character growth. 

However, with all due respect...

Unless I totally missed something in the previous movies, I find it deeply ironic that Tony Stark, Mr. “These are my suits of armor and I can do whatever I want with them,” is champing at the bit for more oversight. Tony Stark is a firm believer in maximizing the freedom of Tony Stark. Not coincidentally, the freedom of Tony Stark is maximized in a world where Tony Stark is the guy who’s calling all the shots. The guy who wants to restrict everyone is the guy who has the privilege of ignoring those rules and getting away with it. Tony plays by no rules, so of course he can’t see a problem with more of them for everyone else. In other words, it’s another self-serving and self-aggrandizing rationalization made by the guy who lives his life with abject certainty that he knows what’s best, and who has either directly or indirectly caused or worsened every fight he’s ever been in. I guess the other heroes will just have to learn and abide by the lessons Tony's hubris have taught.


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Tags: Marvel , avengers , civil war , iron man