A to Z in April 2019

T is for Tony Stark

Have I told you lately how much I love Tony Stark? Because I love him a lot. Every now and then I think about the ways he’s such a great and interesting character and then I go on a little Twitter rant. As a part of Jumpcut Online’s Infinity Saga retrospective of the MCU I wrote pieces on Iron Man and Iron Man 3 which are two of my favourite films in the MCU and I’d recommend checking them out because they end up being mainly focused on why Tony Stark (and Robert Downey Jr.) is so brilliant.

But why do I love Tony Stark so much? That’s a good question. I love how much he’s grown over the course of the MCU. Like, I get why someone wouldn’t necessarily like him in the first Iron Man film (though he still has a good character arc in it) but if they still don’t like him by the time Infinity War has rolled around then they’re still judging him on who he was and not what he’s become.

The thing about Tony Stark is that he wears bravado and the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” title like a suit of armour. He can court the media like a pro, but it doesn’t mean he enjoys it. He is confident and at times full of himself, but he also has anxieties and a deep need to protect those he cares about and fix his mistakes.

Tony Stark has a heart and it’s full of love. He loves his robots and his AI (don’t tell me losing JARVIS first to Ultron and then as a part of Vision wouldn’t have hurt him), he loves Pepper, he loves Rhodey, and Happy, and Peter, and he definitely loved, or at least cared about, the rest of the Avengers. Tony Stark is the guy who designed a floor for each of the Avengers in his tower after knowing them for less than 48 hours. The guy didn’t have a conventional upbringing, or a solid family, so he tries to make a family from his friends.

Tony is incredibly smart and incredibly brave. He’s had anxiety, nightmares and PTSD from going through a wormhole into space, but that didn’t stop him trying to save Spider-Man and Doctor Strange when they were kidnapped by a spaceship. Space, and the threat that’s out there, is one of his biggest fears but he still went to try and save the world.

Tony is often a mess, but he’s a mess that is trying his best. He is someone who when presented with a couple of options he doesn’t like, will find a different way to do something, to fix a problem. Accountability and learning from one’s mistakes are major parts of Tony’s character arc, and his need to be held accountable, for people to be safe and secure, is one of his major driving forces. That can, and does, mean he clashes with some people, but he will get through it.

Tony Stark is funny, smart and heroic. He’s the guy who made a miniaturised arc reactor in a cave with a box of scraps. And he’s the guy that won’t ever give up.

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S is for Shuri

I love Black Panther for giving us so many interesting and cool female characters. I think besides the Thor films; Black Panther has the most well-developed female characters than any other MCU film.

Shuri is so great because while she is ridiculously smart and is the head scientist of the Wakandan Design Group, she still acts like a teenager who enjoys music, jokes and messing with her big brother. I love the scenes with her and T’Challa. They feel like proper siblings but T’Challa still listens to her judgement when it comes to the technology she’s created.

I like how Shuri is a character that has many sides and responsibilities. She’s Princess of Wakanda, meaning she has certain responsibilities and must act a certain way when she’s doing her royal duties. She’s a scientist and engineer, making much of Wakanda’s modern technology. She’s a warrior, prepared to fight alongside her brother for the good of Wakanda. But then she is still a young woman with a sense of humour and her own ideas about what’s right and good.

I also love that in the MCU all characters just accept how ridiculously smart this young black woman is and no one underestimates her. Or if they do, they end up regretting it.

R is for James “Rhodey” Rhodes

I don’t even really know where to start to explain why I think Rhodey is so great.

Rhodey’s committed and disciplined, being a Colonel in the Air Force will do that, but he’s also been known to bend the rules, question orders and make his own decisions about things. Rhodey’s smart; he’s a great tactician, marksman and pilot, and he can not only fight well when he’s in the War Machine armour, but when he’s out of it as well.

He’s incredibly loyal. Even though he and Tony were having a huge falling out in Iron Man 2 and Rhodey took one of the suits, he still listened to Tony and fought by his side once he realised his mistake. And even before he took the suit, Rhodey could see there was something wrong with Tony and was worried about him, but Tony just pushed him away.

I love Rhodey’s sense of humour and how he just rolls with the weird stuff that frequently happens around him. His reaction to Vision appearing in Age of Ultron was the best. I’m pretty sure that Rhodey is used to weird and dangerous things, not only because he’s a military man but because he’s been friends with Tony since they were at MIT together. Tony Stark attracts weird.

Q is for Peter Quill

Peter Quill aka Star-Lord is another character who I wouldn’t call one of my favourites. But again, the letter “Q” is always an awkward one and needs must.

Peter Quill is very much a big kid – and not necessarily in an endearing way. He was kidnapped from Earth as a child, grew up living amongst a bunch of space thieves, and became a criminal who just wants to have a good time. Meeting the other members of what will be the Guardians of the Galaxy does make him start thinking about more than himself and try to do some good, but he’s still very hot-headed and immature.

It makes sense that he is immature as he’s grown up in an environment where there was the threat of death almost every day, so while he’s learnt to be smart and resourceful, he never had a childhood and the chance to be a kid. Quill’s very sarcastic and brash, but he’s also proved himself to be a good leader, that can think on his feet.

Quill cares deeply about those he loves so when he’s told that someone he loves is dead, his emotions get the better of him, causing him to lose control and lash out. That scene in Infinity War is tough to watch for a lot of reasons but I don’t hate it, or Quill, like some other people do. That’s because Quill’s actions are very much in character because when he learnt of the true reason his mother died, he acted exactly the same way.

P is for Pepper Potts

Pepper Potts is the best. I love her, and her relationship with Tony, so much and I’m just super invested and hope she gets a happy ending.

Let me count the ways that Pepper Potts is amazing. She was the Personal Assistant to Tony Stark, something that definitely wasn’t an easy job, but she kept him in line, dealt with board members of Stark Industries, networked and could deal with the press like the best of them. No doubt when Tony made her CEO of Stark Industries she received a lot of backlash – I bet some people thought she only got the job because she was sleeping with the boss, which she wasn’t but even if she was, she proved to be a more than capable CEO and has guided to the company to great heights.

As well as being an astute businesswoman she’s also very brave. Along with Happy she drove in the middle of the Grand Prix to get Tony’s suit to him when he was being attacked and she spied on Obadiah Stane when Tony asked her to, putting herself in more danger than she realised, and ended up saving the day. In fact there’s a great tweet where someone worked out that Pepper has killed more of the main villains of the MCU than anyone else. She was also incredibly badass in Iron Man 3 and I loved how they flipped the script and made Tony the damsel in distress at the end there.

Being in love with someone who has PTSD and anxiety can’t be easy and I thought Iron Man 3 did a great job of showing Tony’s issues and how they affected Pepper too. She never stopped believing in Tony though and I’m so pleased they worked through their issues and are now engaged to be married.

Pepper is smart, kind-hearted, loyal and trustworthy. She’s the kind of character who can be underestimated as she’s not a fighting-badass kind of character. Instead she’s quietly badass in her suit and high heels, and one that cares deeply about her friends.

O is for Okoye

Near enough all of the characters in Black Panther are pretty badass but Okoye is perhaps the most badass.

She’s the general of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite female bodyguards, and is a trusted advisor to King T’Challa. While she is T’Challa’s friend and will question him when she feels it’s necessary, she is also loyal to the throne of Wakanda, no matter who sits in it. She loves her country and its people and will do just about anything to protect it, even going against the man she loves.

Okoye is a fierce and skilled fighter. I loved watching her fight whether it was when she’s undercover in a casino, or when it’s on the plains of Wakanda. She’s elegant yet lethal and with her fighting style being a combination of martial arts and spear mastery.

I love Okoye’s sense of humour. She’s seemingly very stoic and serious, but she can also have a wicked sense of humour. It’s just that she knows when she needs to be professional and be the face of the Dora Milaje, but when she’s with friends or not in a serious meeting, she can be funny and approachable.

Okoye’s incredible and I’m sure she, along with M’Baku, are keeping Wakanda together and I can’t wait to see her again in Endgame.

N is for Nebula

Nebula is one of those characters that has grown on me over time. As you’ve learnt more of her backstory, seen more of her personality, and her relationship with her sister Gamora is fleshed out, she becomes more and more interesting to me.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think much of Nebula when we first meet her in Guardians of the Galaxy. She was a cool looking character, and a skilled fighter, but you didn’t get to see much of her personality as she was like a secondary antagonist. I liked her more in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as you got to see more of her relationship with Gamora and, as she was more like an antihero, she had a bigger role and her personality shined through more. I really like her sort of wry sense of humour that makes a brief appearance every now and then.

I think Nebula is incredibly brave and resilient. Every time she lost a fight as a child, Thanos replaced a part of her body with machinery. It’s truly barbaric and it’s clear at time that her mechanical parts hurt her.

I’m not one to make predictions about Endgame (mainly because my severe fear of spoilers and I have no real idea how everything’s going to go) but one thing I hope happens is that during their space road trip of misery, Nebula and Tony have become best buds. I think their dynamic would be super interesting and compelling. They have things in common, terrible dads, and neither of them have any prior knowledge of the other so they would only judge one another on how they act in the moment. I think they’d be great, and deadly, friends. Plus, I think it’d be great if Nebula trusted Tony enough for him to fix a part of her body. That would mean a lot to both of them.