TONY STARK: If we can’t accept limitations, we’re boundaryless, we’re no better than the bad guys.
Earlier this week, you got to hear from Team Cap. Now it’s Team Iron Man’s turn. I must admit that I am not your standard Tony Stark admirer. I’m naturally more inclined to side with Steve Rogers, the cleancut idealist. I hated Tony Stark from the minute I met him, and it took me years to get over his arrogance.
So why am I on Team Iron Man? Simple. I believe that anyone, even superheroes, can convince themselves that their good intentions are worth a little collateral damage.
How much is one person worth? Can we sacrifice one to save the many? Is collateral damage a moral necessity? These are the questions Tony is weighing. Because for him, the loss of one human life at his hands, even indirectly, is a failure. He is haunted by the lives he has cost. That’s why he stopped making weapons. That’s why he became Iron Man. He wants to save the world.
But Tony knows better than almost any of the Avengers what it is to do harm when you’re trying to good. He has seen the negative results of his good intentions. He’s never been the golden boy. He’s the playboy. When a playboy starts suggesting some oversight, it’s probably time to listen.
Remember, of course, that this isn’t Tony’s ideal solution. Would he rather the Avengers self-police? Yes. But he recognizes that any person left to their own devices can spiral into justifying even the most disturbing actions. That’s why he says the Avengers would be no better than the bad guys. Not because they’re bad people. But because they each have the potential to become bad people.
No man should have as much power as these do. But they already have it. And to avoid World War Avengers, they need an outside perspective to offer guidance. The Avengers function under no law, and that’s Tony’s concern.
Near the end of the film, Tony faces Steve and asks a very simple question.
TONY STARK: [about his parents’ deaths at Bucky’s hands] Did you know?
STEVE: I didn’t know it was him…
TONY: [struggling to keep his temper] Don’t shit me, Rogers! Did you know?
STEVE: [hesitantly] Yes.
Here is is, plain and simple. Tony loses his self-control. Hard to blame him, frankly. Who knew the day would come when Cap was anything but honest? But volatile Tony isn’t the only one who lacks restraint. Think back to that that final fight. Tony is lying there, broken. And Cap slams his shield into Tony’s arc reactor.In context, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say Cap left Tony to die. Yes, Tony made it. But that’s not the sort of self-restraint he seemed so confident he could provide. This isn’t the Cap we’ve trusted.
Why Team Iron Man? Because I know the darkness of my own heart. It’s not a pleasant reality, but I can’t ignore it.