The Marvel Cinematic Universe has come a long way in 10 years. In fact, it's come so far that the co-writer of Black Panther, the most recent MCU entry, isn't sure the first MCU movie would work as well if it came out today. The issue, according to him, is that Tony Stark, as he appears in the original Iron Man, may not be the sort of person that would be looked at as a hero today. According to Joe Robert Cole...
The political climate regarding women in media is certainly in a very different place than it was even a few years ago. Joe Robert Cole told a SXSW crowd (via Indiewire) that he doesn't think a character that treated women the way Tony Stark did in the first Iron Man would be as warmly embraced today as he was back then.
It's certainly true that Tony Stark, when we first meet him, wasn't the nicest guy in the world. An early, somewhat belligerent, interaction with a female reporter in Iron Man ends up with the pair spending the night together. It's likely that sort of scene which Joe Robert Cole is referring to. Although, it should be pointed out that following Tony Stark's imprisonment he has a significant change of heart. The purpose of seeing Tony Stark being "douchey" to use Cole's word, is to watch him change over the course of the film. And from there, Tony Stark has changed even more. He certainly isn't the same character today that he was at the beginning of the first Iron Man. When last we saw Tony Stark, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, he was acting as a mentor to a young Peter Parker, something we probably wouldn't have seen from the character at the beginning.
Regardless of what could be or might have been, Joe Robert Cole is clearly happier with the state of movies today. He doesn't think audiences would be so quick to accept early Tony Stark the way he sees the character, and he thinks that is for the best.
Art is a reflection of the culture in which it exists, and thus movies will always change over time. A lot has clearly changed in the MCU over the last 10 years and if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still going 10 years from now, you can bet that a lot more will have changed by then. We'll see what Tony Stark is like today when Avengers: Infinity War arrives next month.
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