Iron Man was released in theaters, marking the beginning of a new era of superhero films. Directed by Jon Favreau, the movie received critical acclaim, was nominated for two Oscars, and helped to establish the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Iron Man trilogy, in particular, was a solid series that showcased Robert Downey Jr.’s impeccable performance as Tony Stark.
While the Iron Man trilogy had moments of smart storytelling and established a larger universe, it also exposed Iron Man’s greatest storytelling flaw. Tony Stark’s hubris of creating something with good intentions only for someone with bad intentions to get their hands on it, causing him to create something else to destroy his work, happened in almost every film where Stark appeared, even if he was not the titular character. This kind of reliance on a particular conceit across multiple films could be seen as both Stark’s tragic flaw and lazy writing.
However, the biggest problem with the MCU now is that it consistently uses the same writing conceits for the same characters. Every Marvel character has one fatal flaw that carries them through their trilogies and even into other films where they appear. This sameness of storytelling has left many viewers feeling cold on the ongoing adventures of these heroes.
While the Iron Man trilogy helped redefine blockbusters and establish the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are better lessons to be learned from the series. Be political, give characters real flaws, have them struggle with their mental health, give them grounded and understandable stakes, and keep your stories focused on the characters, not the sequels. Marvel should move away from relying on the same storytelling devices and explore new avenues for their characters.