Iron Man 3 ended on a somewhat definitive note, which was necessary given real life predicaments where in Marvel Studios was unsure if it might lure Robert Downey Jr. back for further, and future, adventures. It marked an important change for Downey’s character Tony Stark as he underwent surgery to have the shrapnel in his chest removed, thus making it no longer necessary for Stark to have an Arc reactor in his chest. It suggested that maybe, Stark was no longer in a place where he needed his Iron Man alterego and is moving on to new things. But since Downey is back for Avengers: Age of Ultron, so is Stark and Iron Man, and in a new interview, Donwey suggests that Stark will be as affected by the events of Iron Man 3 in Age of Ultron, as he was in Iron Man 3 after events in The Avengers.
While talking to Marvel in promotion for all things Avengers, Downey described Stark’s thusly:
“I thought that the third Iron Man was about [Tony] transcending his dependence on the merits of continuing to wear your wound. That was what [director] Shane [Black] and I thought was the real win, that he throws that thing that had become a dependency away. Because that was the question I was always asking, why doesn’t he get those shards out [of his chest]? It’s dangerous.
It reminds me of all that stuff, particularly as you get a little older or if you have any existential queries whatsoever. Why aren’t I dealing with that which is going to destroy me any second anyway? The armor was kind of an extension of that. There were so many suits, but I think he realizes that making all the suits in the world, which is what he had been doing, still didn’t [help him]. His focus [now] is more on how can we make it so that there’s no problem to begin with. That there’s a bouncer at our planet’s rope. That’s the big idea.
Now I feel rather than him putting it all down, he was saying, ‘all right, job one roughly taken care of. And I think job two [is to] go back east and get people organized and do what I can. I love that Tony’s not one of those super heroes who’s ever lost his money. [laughs] Which is great. He’s never lost his dough … [Tony’s] the guy who is the technologically possible super hero, [so director] Joss [Whedon] is leaning on me a little bit, like, ‘if this is credible to you, even if you snark about it a little bit, then other people are going to buy it.’ And I’m like, ‘that’s true.’”
One of the recurring themes of the Iron Man movies has been that Stark creates his own monsters out of his ambition and arrogance, so it would make sense that Whedon would pick up on that thread in Age of Ultron by showing that Stark’s ambition to create “a bouncer at our planet’s rope,” would in turn create an equally ambitious threat in Ultron, a Stark creation that decides the best way to save the world is to get rid of all the people. (Supposedly, but that’s been the rumored plot thread for AoU.)
I know a lot of people thought the ending of Iron Man 3 disappointing, the idea that Stark would walk away from his superhero persona just because he doesn’t want to have a battery in his chest anymore seemed like it undercut the character’s sense of purpose. In the comics though, Tony’s recovered before from his initial injury, and has been forced to have the reactor placed back in his chest, or make other core alterations to his armor like Extremis. So who knows what the future will bring for Stark, and who knows if he’ll make it out of Age of Ultron in one piece.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is in theaters everywhere May 1.