Since Iron Man first released in 2008, Robert Downey Jr. has been the face of Marvel Studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded greatly since then, bringing in not only The Avengers but the Sony-owned Spider-Man and the D-lister Guardians of the Galaxy. Each of these properties have been popular enough to overwhelm a lesser superhero, but Downey's appeal as Tony Stark, as well as Marvel's careful handling of their episodic character development, has so far resulted in a lasting legacy for the self-made superhero.
The legacy of the MCU is set to culminate in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, and with it, audiences are set to see more of the continuously dynamic character of Tony Stark. Tony was last seen as one of the primary antagonists in Captain America: Civil War, and will next appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a mentor to the titular hero.
In a live video Q&A on his Facebook page, Robert Downey Jr. was asked what has changed the most about playing Tony Stark since the first Iron Man film.
"Well, I guess he's matured a little bit. I think what's changed is the universe around him honestly, if you think about it, right? There's so many offshoots now. Peter Parker's in the mix. The Guardians are on fire."
At first glance, the tangent into the status of the surrounding universe may seem more-or-less irrelevant to his character, but the addition of superheroes really has changed his character in a tangible way since he first appeared. Across the films, Tony has changed dramatically, from a loner to a team player to a man insistent on government oversight. Now he's acting as a mentor to the superhero-in-training, Spider-Man. His focus has changed dramatically from being completely self-centered to battling for a pragmatic view of the greater good. This has been accompanied by the realization that he's not the only exceptional person out there fighting for what's right.
Most MCU fans will loathe the thought of the series continuing in a post-RDJ world. But it's good to know that even if Avengers 3 & 4 are his last appearances as Tony Stark, we'll have seen 9 full chapters of the character's development before it's all said and done. Hopefully, whenever his departure from the series does inevitably occur, it will be on terms that validate the journey we've taken with him.
Source: Robert Downey Jr. via Facebook
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019