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Tony Stark Has Failed His First Iron Man Mission

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man with Stark Industries Warhead

Tony Stark failed in his first mission as Iron Man - to stop profiting from war. When the late, great Stan Lee created Tony Stark back in the 1960s, he gave himself something of a dare. As he explained around the time the first Iron Man movie released, the one thing that young readers "hated" was war - or, more specifically, the military. And so, Lee decided to create a character that embodied that hatred in every way possible, someone that profited heavily from war, and turn him into someone readers would admire.

When Marvel Studios introduced Tony Stark in 2008's Iron Man movie, they initially followed Lee's formula to the letter. They based the arrogant industrialist on Howard Hughes, and cast controversial actor Robert Downey Jr. for the part after Jon Favreau's recommendation. They clearly made the right call, and the foundation laid in Iron Man has proved stable enough to build an entire shared universe on it.

Related: Avengers: Infinity War Shows Iron Man Does Have A Proper Theme (Sort Of)

And yet, there was one crucial difference. Where Lee's Tony Stark stayed a weapons manufacturer for years, the first Iron Man film saw the MCU version ditch the profession at speed. It was Marvel Studios' way of hitting the ground running by fundamentally altering the status quo for its central character at the outset. But the thing is, did anything really change?

Tony Stark's First Mission Was To Stop Making Weapons

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark uses Jericho Missile in Iron Man

Iron Man began by establishing Tony Stark as the "Merchant of Death," a selfish industrialist who didn't really care about anyone but himself. He'd inherited Stark Industries from his father, Howard Stark, and had continued Howard's work, building some of the most lethal and efficient weapons out there. The film placed a spotlight on the Jericho missile, an experimental missile that he attempted to sell to the United States military. "They say the best weapon is one you never have to fire," Stark observed. "I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once... Find an excuse to let one of these off the chain, and I personally guarantee you the bad guys won't even want to come out of their caves."

Plus, in Iron Man's ambush scene, Tony says, "Yeah, peace. I love peace. I'd be out of a job with peace." But Tony Stark's trip to Afghanistan proved a life-changing one; he was captured by the Ten Rings terrorist organization and badly injured by one of his own weapons. Stark was gradually faced with the reality that the weapons he had designed had made their way out on to the black market, and were causing terror across the globe. Stark had previously been arrogant and egotistical, but he finally began to develop a sense of personal responsibility. When Stark escaped, and made his way back to the United States, he shut down Stark Industries' weapons research and began to move the company in a new direction.

Tony's Plan Worked (For A Time)

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2008

Stark faced bitter opposition from the Board of Directors, with Obadiah Stane even trying to kill him and take ownership of the Iron Man technology. But in the end, Tony appeared to get his own way. Under Stark's leadership, Stark Industries became a world leader in renewable energy, using the Arc Reactor technology to create sustainable sources of clean energy. By the events of The Avengers, Tony considered himself to be "the only name in clean energy." Stark Tower was a revolutionary step forward for the Arc Reactor, an entire building sustained by the power source.

Related: The MCU Skipped Iron Man's Most Important Story

Meanwhile, Tony launched a campaign to get his old weapons off the black market. He started with the Ten Rings, the terrorist group who had taken him prisoner, and he systematically destroyed their weapons caches. Iron Man 2 implied that he went even further, acting as a troubleshooter who took down terrorists and dealt with advanced tech that had gotten into the hands of criminals. Stark became a celebrity superhero and told a US Senate Committee that he had successfully privatized world peace. It really did look as though he'd fulfilled his mission. But things changed.

Page 2 of 2: Tony Stark's Mission Failed Over Time

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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