'Iron Man 3': Maybe Tony Stark really IS all about the armor?

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iron-man-3-robert-downey-jr_510x331In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Robert Downey Jr. said that Iron Man 3 aims to connect that climactic moment of self-sacrifice in The Avengers to something approximating authenticity. “We try to take everything that would otherewise be two-dimensional or genre-esque, and try to take it literally. How would you feel if a wormhole opened in the sky and you saw things that no human had ever seen before?” he said. “We just looked at the practical realities of what life after Avengers would be like. And we end up coming back to the relationships.”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts. Don Cheadle’s Air Force Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Stark’s bodyguard, driver, and all-around mensch Happy, played by Jon Favreau. Even JARVIS, Stark’s computerized majordomo is kind of a confidante, if only as a reflection of his own huge ego. Stark, in the end, may be his own best friend.

Looking at this new batch of Iron Man 3 stills, which were all part of the trailer last month, I was wondering why Marvel chose to package and release them now. All four contrast strength and vulnerability. We look at the destroyed mask above and fear for our old pal Tony, even though — it’s just a mask and there’s no evidence of him being harmed. We just can’t help but worry … Maybe he really is all about the armor.

There’s no doubt he’s a good guy, but like all those other iconic superheroes what does he stand for in a deeper sense? Who is Iron Man?

I think Iron Man is the hard shell each of us presents to the world, and Tony, for all his charisma and bluster (which is its own kind of armor), is the fragile person inside, wondering if we have what it takes to be good: good human beings, good spouses, good parents, good neighbors. Not saving the whole world, per se — just our little corner of it.

The trailer for the film features Stark wrestling with self-doubt, haunted by nightmares, and pledging to protect the people who mean the most to him. You can guess, the story doesn’t really work out so well for him…

NEXT PAGE: Bromance? Pepper Potts may not be the main relationship fueling Iron Man 3.

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