I’m about to do a critical rewatch of all 23 Marvel movies (in chronological order) looking at negative patterns in how masculinity is presented. This is part of my neverending quest to be super popular with fans ;)
As I plan out my next dozen or so video essays deconstructing Hollywood manhood, I noticed that Marvel movies keep showing up as examples again and again. So I might as well put on a pot of coffee and rewatch them all again while taking detailed notes.
I’ve seen all the MCU movies before of course, most in the theater, but haven’t seen many of them more than once. I remember my favorite, by a country mile, was Ant-Man and the Wasp. You can probably guess the reasons why.
Some questions I always ask myself about male characters when watching media: How do they resolve conflicts? Are they ever vulnerable? If so, do they openly express it and to whom? How do they behave in romantic relationships? Do they ever bond with other men? If so, over what?
Since the MCU movies are about superheroes, we also need to be asking questions about power and public accountability, especially as it relates to militarism, unilateral action, and the United States. Under what circumstances is vigilantism or state violence framed as justified?
I’m starting with Captain America: The First Avenger, which was released in 2012 but largely takes place in the 1940s. I’m rewatching these in (mostly) chronological order because I want to focus on how each male character arc progresses over time.
You could easily write a whole dissertation just on the first Captain America movie but since this is twitter I’ll keep it brief. I’m especially struck by the confused messaging around hypermasculinity in this film. Like a lot of the MCU the writers seem to want it both ways.
At first it seems like the message is going to be “what really counts is what’s in a man’s heart,” but that's undermined by the fact that Steve can’t be a true hero who's respected by his peers until AFTER he becomes a literal super soldier and proves himself on the battlefield.
This is reinforced when the film denigrates all the other ways men helped in the struggle against fascism. They basically mock the idea of factory work, salvaging metal, and morale boosting as being for women and children. Only fighting on the battlefield can make you a real man.
Steve Rogers' other defining characteristic is he’s super polite, in an idealized 1940s kinda way. Aside from some inappropriate jealousy around Peggy, he's generally respectful of others. But as we’ll see later on, politeness does not a positive example of masculinity make.
Captain America will return to this thread soon but now it’s time to watch the MCU introduce their resident lovable sexist arms dealing billionaire in the first Iron Man movie from 2008.
Tony Stark treats Pepper Potts like garbage even when he’s being “nice” to her. Yes, I know he becomes less of a dick over the course of many films but she should have quit and left well before that. Don’t let people treat you badly in the hopes that they’ll eventually change.
There’s a whole lot of “Don’t do this very cool thing!” going on in the way the production chooses to portray Tony’s playboy lifestyle in this movie. It’s a major pet-peeve of mine when filmmakers do this with their wealthy chauvinist characters.
The messages in Iron Man relating to weapons manufacturing and the US military are confused, to put it mildly. Again we see the MCU writers wanting to have it both ways.
At first it seems the film is going for a decent message. Tony sees his weaponry used to terrorize people and decides to stop making weapons of war. Ok, cool. But then he turns HIMSELF into a weapon. He embeds weapons of war in his suit and uses them to kill a bunch of bad guys.
It’s remarkable how far this movie bends over backwards to portray the US military in a positive light, even after they try to shoot our hero out of the sky. Gotta preserve that partnership to get access to military locations and equipment. Plus cross-promotional branding deals.
Turns out that arms dealing is bad because Tony can’t trust that his weapons will only be used by the good and virtuous US military. Middle eastern terrorists might get ahold of them! So the solution is for Tony to personally use and control the most powerful weapon himself.
Lastly, there’s a scene near the end where Jeff Bridges gives his villainous speech about how Stark weapons in "the right hands” can be used to bring order to the world. The filmmakers don’t seem to realize he could just as well be describing Tony’s own use of the Iron Man suit.
There’s obviously a whole lot more to say about Tony Stark and his behavior but now it’s time for Iron Man 2 from 2010. This is the one where Tony makes a "don’t drop the soap” prison rape joke.

I’m reading this as I continue my 23 film MCU rewatch. The book was written back in 1993 but it’s still relevant and a useful companion piece for deconstructing manhood according to Marvel.
Iron Man 2 (2010) directed by Jon Favreau is where the MCU really starts to coalesce into what can be seen as a coherent ideology, both in terms of its politics and its concepts of heroic masculinity. The themes embedded here can be followed all the way to End Game in 2019.
I have 3+ pages of notes from my re-watch of Iron Man 2 so I won't post all my observations here but I will quickly list some highlights.
Iron Man 2 spotlights the MCU’s love affair with guns and gun culture. Odd for a franchise that A) is about superpowers and B) started with tacit criticism of weapons manufacturing. Even when bad guy Justin Hammer is showcasing an arsenal for War Machine, guns are framed as cool.
In Iron Man 2 we start to see the MCU’s disdain for the idea of public oversight or accountability for what are really just paramilitary vigilantes with superpowers. Senator Stern is framed as duplicitous and roundly mocked by the film for holding public hearings on the matter.
But the MCU is careful to reserve its distain only for the civilian side of government (I.E. the democratic side). Generally speaking the US military is shown in a positive light, even when they steal an Iron Man suit from Tony and create "War Machine" piloted by Col. Rhodes.
The question of public accountability for superheroes will become a central theme later in the MCU (sorta-kinda) but even then it ends up splitting hairs and delivering wishy-washy messaging at best. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
When it comes to depictions of male vulnerability, Iron Man 2 sets the pattern that we’ll see in a dozen MCU films to come. Tony is struggling with his own mortality and we see a handful of vulnerable moments but this ONLY happens in private. He hides his feelings from others.
This is a classic bit of cinematic sleight of hand because we, as the audience, see male heroes experience moments of vulnerability but they rarely share those feelings with other characters or ask for help. If they do share, it’s usually after they've "solved it" on their own.
Iron Man 2 also gives us our first of many fights between the male heroes. Basically all problems in the MCU are resolved via violence, even interpersonal ones. Tony is spiraling so Rhodes stages an intervention but because these are tough guys it takes the form of face punching.
Iron Man 2 introduces the MCU’s first female superhero in Black Widow and wastes no time in having Tony, Happy, and especially the camera ogle her. This behavior is lampshaded in the dialogue but it's ultimately played off as harmless, just "guys being guys."
I know I'm spending a lot of time on Iron Man 2 but as I said it really sets the tone for the MCU as a whole. For example, it gives us the first (of many) butt shots of a female hero. It wouldn't make it any better, but you won't see men framed this gratuitously by the camera.
Another trend we see in Iron Man 2 has to do with how male friendships are depicted in the MCU. Tony and Rhodes mend their relationship and bond by the end of the movie but not through communication or mutual emotional support. Instead it's through a joint exercise in violence.
Admittedly this is a relatively minor aside but I hate that Tony treats his robot helper in an abusive way and then the robot makes sad pitiful sounds and movements in response and it's all supposed to be hilarious.
If there was any doubt about how the MCU views billionaires, Iron Man 2 features an Elon Musk cameo. In these movies the world doesn't need public institutions or a functioning civil society, it just needs "great men" to fix everything for us (after they break it.)
Let's not forget this scene where Tony and Pepper mock Justin Hammer's masculinity by shaming an investigative journalist for having slept with Tony in the previous film. Having Pepper join in on the shaming is especially ugly. It’s all played for laughs of course.
Anyway there’s a lot more to discuss in Iron Man 2 (especially as it relates to the confused framing of Tony’s recklessness, his arrogance, and his continued terrible treatment of Pepper) but we’ll return to all that in later movies.
Now it’s time for The Incredible Hulk (2008). This is an odd one because it feels so different in tone from the rest of the MCU.
Before we go any further, I just want to reiterate that I'm not here to review these movies. That is to say, I'm not interested in telling you if they are "good" or "bad" cinema. I'm doing a critical investigation of sociological themes and messages embedded in the MCU.
The Hulk is one of the most troubling MCU characters in terms of the masculinity messaging. He's a thoughtful mild-mannered man who transforms into a violent monster whenever he gets upset. After his rampages he turns back into a "nice guy" who isn't responsible for his actions.
It'd be one thing if The Incredible Hulk was just about a man learning how to manage his anger. But that's not the story. This movie is about a man who learns to "aim" his violent rage in the appropriate direction. Male rage is framed as useful and even necessary to defeat evil.
Bruce Banner, for his part, wants to find a cure for his Hulk side and feels remorse after each violent rampage. This framing reflects what's referred to as the cycle of abuse wherein abusers will express regret after an attack before doing it again later. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_of_abuse
The narrative choice to have a "special woman" be the only one who can calm The Hulk's violent rage is particularly disturbing. A common misconception is that women can fix men's anger or violence with their love. In reality, those closest to abusers bear the brunt of their rage.
In the last shot of The Incredible Hulk we see Banner going it alone again and trying to fix himself in isolation without anyone else’s help. This is framed as good and noble but honestly what he really needs is a therapist. We very rarely see men in therapy in Hollywood movies.
A final note on The Incredible Hulk, I think this is the only MCU movie where the US Military is depicted in a negative light. I’m gonna guess Marvel hadn’t cemented their long-term partnership with the US Department of Defense back in 2007. Plus this one was filmed in Canada.
We’ll return to The Hulk again later but I’ll leave it with these quotes from bell hooks fantastic book “The Will to Change.” She’s talking about The Incredible Hulk TV show here, which ran from 1978 to 1982, but I think her analysis could be applied to the MCU Hulk as well.
Next up we have Chris Hemsworth in Thor (2011)
The story of the 1st Thor movie is pretty standard stuff. An arrogant, selfish, and entitled prince must be humbled by having his station and power taken away until he learns his lesson, thus proving he's wise enough to rule. It's all about earning the right to wield power.
Odin introduces Thor’s hammer as something that can either be "a weapon to destroy" or "a tool to built" but it’s just used as a weapon to bash people's heads in like 99% of the time in these movies.
It strikes me that this scene in the 1st Thor movie where Odin explains his philosophy on the use of force doubles as both the message of the movie and as an ideology of the larger MCU. Essentially "don’t strike first but always be ready to utterly dominate any challenger."
Notice the ultimate message of Thor (and the MCU more generally) isn't that no one should be given the authority to engage in the unilateral use of force. Rather the message is that only "truly great men" should be given the authority to engage in the unilateral use of force.
It’s important to note here that the four main Phase One superheroes (Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor) are all framed as living embodiments of weapons of mass destruction. They are even explicitly described as such at various points in the dialogue.
The problem, we are told by the MCU, isn’t weapons of mass destruction. The problem is weapons of mass destruction in the "wrong hands." In the "right hands" those weapons can be tools of peace. Sound familiar? It's a perfect distillation of US military/nuclear policy.
So how do we know which men are truly great? So great they should be entrusted with the authority to engage in vigilante violence whenever they see fit? According to Marvel the answer is heroic suicide. Great men in the MCU all choose to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.
Each MCU hero is given an elaborate scenario wherein they choose to sacrifice themselves. Thor gives himself up to The Destroyer. Steve goes down with the Valkyrie. Banner jumps out of a helicopter. Tony flies a nuke into the wormhole in Avengers…but I’m skipping ahead again.
Of course because these are Hollywood movies, the heroic self-sacrifice doesn’t actually kill these men. Instead it proves they deserve their power. And the act of sacrificial violence only makes them stronger and more powerful. (At least until the very end of their story arcs).
To be clear, I'm not discounting all heroic sacrifice storylines but I do think we need to consider the implications of so closely tying men's value, worth, and masculinity to one spectacular moment of suicidal violence. In the MCU there's no other way to be a true hero.
I'm doing a bad job of keeping these notes brief, huh? Anyway there will be ample opportunity for us to discuss Thor, as well as the heroic sacrifice, moving forward. Speaking of, it’s time for Joss Whedon’s blockbuster The Avengers (2012).
Oh one last note on Thor. This throwaway joke glorifying men drinking to excess and getting into brawls caught my eye because it comes directly AFTER Thor supposedly learns his lesson about heroic responsibility. But drunken bar fights are just harmless male bonding, I guess?
Took a little break from my MCU re-watch but now it's time for The Avengers (2012). Like Iron Man 2, this movie is pivotal in setting the stage for the rest of what's now called "The Infinity Saga” in terms of both politics and masculinity. In other words, I have A LOT of notes.
The always charming Mark Ruffalo replaces Edward Norton as The Hulk. The casting change is accompanied by a distinct change in tone from the more menacing version in Incredible Hulk to this more fun humorous take on the character in The Avengers.
Banner now refers to the Hulk persona as “the other guy,” which works to distance himself from responsibility for his fits of violent rage. Though not framed as such, it’s an unsettling mirror of how real-life abusers often dissociate from or rationalize their own behavior.
Despite the humorous tone, there’s a seriously jolting moment in The Avengers where Banner admits to being suicidal (and acting on the impulse) but the line is just used to win an argument. The MCU never really returns to this again, which seems irresponsible to say the least.
Again if the story was just about Banner learning to control his anger issues (which manifest metaphorically as The Hulk) that would be one thing but in the MCU The Hulk side is the hero. His violent rage is framed as cool, as useful, and worse as *necessary* to save the world.
Remember when I said essentially everything in the MCU is solved with violence? Well, it’s taken to extremes in The Avengers. So your best friend has been brainwashed by an Infinity Stone? Don’t worry, it’s nothing a little blunt force trauma to the head can’t fix.
That’s right, the narrative solution to mind control in the MCU is the same as it is for a broken copy machine at the office. Hit it really hard and hope the internal mechanisms realign. This is famously how the human brain works.
Most of the time Captain America fights with his shield or fists but in The Avengers we briefly see him using a modern assault rifle. The scene reads like another advertisement for real firearms. We've seen this trend with guns before in the MCU and we'll see it again.
Normal humans in the MCU (who aren't super, per se) use guns to try to match strength with super beings. Coulson uses a futuristic firearm. Natasha, Clint, and Maria use Glocks. Fury uses an RPG etc. Guns continue to be framed as both badass and an effective way to project power.
Of course, most superheroes don’t need to carry guns because they ARE weapons personified. As I’ve said before, MCU heroes are written as direct metaphors for weapons of mass destruction. And The Avengers movie doubles down on that narrative framing.
SHIELD is building alien-powered WMDs as "deterrents" to protect earth from galactic threats. There’s an argument over this but the core premise isn’t questioned because the writers have created a universe where the imminent threat is real.
Fury continues to channel Donald Rumsfeld in talking about alien “unknown unknowns” in a galaxy brimming with imminent threats. The film’s ultimate solution is that The Avengers themselves will fill the role of WMDs by becoming deterrents in a galactic superhuman arms race.
Parallels to the real-life "War on Terror" and 9/11 in The Avengers are striking and undeniable. The rationalizations and justifications for a new forever war are essentially the same but instead of foreign terrorists from the Middle East, it's alien terrorists from outer space.
SHIELD is a US government agency shown to operate an omnipresent surveillance apparatus capable of spying on any device connected to the internet. It's a massive invasion of privacy that's presented as necessary to stop the unique threat posed by super bad guys. Sound familiar?
The MCU desperately needs their own Edward @Snowden
The Avengers was released in May 2012. One year later, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on PRISM, a mass surveillance program designed to harvest citizen data. Jumping ahead, MCU writers didn't learn anything from that scandal because Spider-Man is using mass spying tech in 2019.
I’m getting way ahead of myself but just like WMDs, the ultimate MCU message seems to be that mass surveillance tech is good but only in the right hands. The “right hands” being unaccountable private individuals (like a tech billionaire) with good hearts and good intentions.
This is a very telling scene in illuminating how power and authority are presented in the MCU. Captain America gives orders to a bunch of NYC cops. They don’t recognize his authority because officially he doesn’t have any...
...But then Captain America single handedly takes down a bunch of aliens in front of them. Seeing this, the cops suddenly follow his orders to the letter. The message couldn’t be clearer: masculine violence and swift acts of domination are what grant men authority in the MCU.
There are terms for systems where authority is granted to the strongest or most violent individuals outside of institutional structures that could (theoretically at least) hold decision makers accountable. Democracy is not one of those terms. We’ll keep returning to this point.
Throughout the MCU power and authority are legitimated via acts of violence and domination (against bad guys) and not by any democratic or institutional means. But what about public accountability for authority? Again, the very idea is dismissed as absurd, corrupt, or evil.
Elected officials absurdly blame The Avengers for the destruction of NYC and call for investigations. Those in an oversight position for SHIELD are evil shadowy bureaucrats who tried to nuke NYC. The pattern continues: only unaccountable "great men" can be trusted with authority.
I want to circle back to the representation of masculinity and male relationships in The Avengers because there’s a lot going on and almost none of it is good. Truly supportive male friendships are rare in movies. And when we do see them, they’re often forged in violence.
We're treated to a lot of macho posturing and dick measuring, especially between Iron Man and Captain America. The toxic behavior is lampshaded with a *wink* so audiences can keep enjoying it. Lampshading machismo is a staple Whedon writing trick that'll get worse in the sequel.
Once again we see interpersonal violence between men framed both as conflict resolution and also as the default form of male bonding. Physical fights are how these men learn to respect one another. And respect of strength is a prerequisite for friendship in the MCU.
The Hulk goes on what’s meant to be a scary rampage but Thor gives a little smirk of approval while fighting him. Thor appreciates Hulk's raw display of physical power and enjoys going toe-to-toe with it. That smile mirrors how the audience is supposed to feel about this fight.
I’m reminded of RW Connell writing about the “hierarchy of masculinities” wherein men compete in a never ending quest for dominance. Thor, Tony, and Steve fight each other to a draw thus proving they are relative equals in raw power. This makes their tenuous allegiance possible.
Comic book media has long been obsessed with the question of “who would win in a fight” between men meant to be allies or friends. It’s not a coincidence that displays of raw physical power and acts of domination over others are valued above all else in a patriarchal society.
There's also this weird homophobic moment with Tony where he jokes about hoping none of the guys kissed him while he was unconscious. Dude almost died and he’s worried Chris Evans may have saved his life with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Get outta here with that bullshit.
Speaking of Tony Stark, he acts like an arrogant asshole for practically the whole movie (again). He gets into a dick measuring contest with both Thor and Steve. He tries to goad Banner into hulking out for his own amusement, even though he knows it makes Banner feel suicidal.
So how does Tony redeem himself for his awful behavior? The heroic sacrifice of course. Remember suicidal violence is the only way to prove you’re a true hero in the MCU (see above). Up until this point Tony was the only one of the four guys who hadn’t made “The sacrifice play.”
It’s uncomfortable to think about but The Avengers ends with Tony's Big Damn Hero Moment which is basically becoming a suicide bomb. Anyway, I told you I had a lot of notes on this movie. I have even more but I think it’s time to move on to Thor: The Dark World (2013)
I hope you're all finding these tweets insightful or at least interesting. Normally I don’t share my notes publicly. Also I’ve been taking a little break in between movies because making my notes presentable turns out to be a bit of work :P
Finally getting back to this thread. My MCU re-watch is going slowly because I've been writing and recording a new video essay about depictions of men crying in media. It should be published in mid March. Anyway, time for Thor 2.
Remember that whole lesson from the 1st Thor movie about how heroes shouldn't enjoy going to war? Well, never mind all that! We’re 100% supposed to enjoy the hell out of Thor beating the crap out of a bunch of "savages" under the pretext of "restoring order" to the 9 realms.
The enlightened futuristic Asgardians still solve conflicts with war, still have a monarchy, and still operate prisons? But we're not supposed to think of their (mostly white) culture as backwards or authoritarian. It’s the damn dark ages, just covered in tech-infused gold leaf.
THOR: “We need the king to appear strong and unchallenged.” Authoritarian ideology at its finest. I loathe fantasy stories that lionize monarchy. It's fundamentally anti-democratic and a particular pet peeve of mine.
I’ve pointed out before how the MCU worships raw physical power above all else (especially in men) but Dark World turns it up to 11. When Thor reduces a huge warrior to a pile of rubble, the rest of the rabble instantly give up and literally bow down before him.
So Thor and friends spend the first part of Dark World waging war, which is framed as unambiguously good. Later Odin wants to wage war on the Elves who invaded Asgard but now suddenly war is bad. Are the writers unaware of this contradiction? I don’t know but…
It’s another example of the MCU’s "Great Men" theory. Thor’s war has only himself + an elite strike team putting their lives on the line. That's good. Odin’s war would have normal citizens risking their lives. That's bad. Only elites have the right and obligation to do violence.
Revenge acts as a replacement for men's grief in too many movies. Vulnerable feelings are transmuted into rage and violence. Thor and Loki don't bond over shared grief after their mother's death, they bond over a shared desire for vengeance. Obviously this is extremely unhealthy.
When Loki appears to die, Thor's eyes get damp. There might be a tear? I even zoomed in on the still and it's hard to say. I’m watching in 1080p, maybe it’s clearer in 4k? We shouldn't have to do forensic analysis to see if a man is crying or not. His anger is crystal clear tho.
This BIG NO is the extent of Thor's mourning process. His grief lasts all of about 20 seconds.
There’s a running joke where Darcy treats her dorky “intern” with disdain throughout the movie, but when (due to magic nonsense) he saves her life by throwing a car - she’s suddenly attracted to him. Again, hypermasculine displays of raw strength are valued above all in the MCU.
Last small thing. Thor is depicted as being irresistibly hot, which is mostly fine. But twice women intentionally touch his chest without permission. Thor always holds power and both moments are brief and meant to be funny. Still, non-consensual touching shouldn't be a joke.
Next up will be Iron Man 3. I'll try to add my notes about it sooner this time. Stay Tuned.
I‘ve been putting off tweeting out my notes on Iron Man 3 because the movie is a minefield of interesting ideas that are executed so poorly it'd have been better if the writers hadn’t tried at all (especially in relation to PTSD and issues of physical ability.)
Let’s check on Tony’s character progression. Still recklessly putting himself and others in danger? Yep. Not listening to anyone but himself? Yep. Still being kinda of a dick to Pepper? Yep. This is the 4th film starring Iron Man and he has yet to learn very much.
I want to briefly talk about the class politics of Happy Hogan in the MCU.
Happy is written to be a "normal working class guy." The way the writers communicate this fact to us is by making him a little bit sexist and a little bit homophobic. I’m so very tired of casual bigotry being used as THE marker of “working class” in media.
Hollywood writers constantly use casual sexism and homophobia as the preferred way to indicate a guy is working class. I'm not a psychologist but considering the absurd number of bigoted assholes working within the Hollywood elite, it seems like a bit of distancing or projection.
I grew up working class and sure there’s some sexism and bigotry but no more than you find among the rich and powerful. Difference is the rich and powerful can turn their bigotry into policy and institutional discrimination. Anyway, I hate the way Happy’s character is written.
Throughout the Iron Man films Happy acts as an enabler for Tony's sexism and womanizing. He's the bro who goes along with it. This means, among other things, that women are the only ones who ever question Tony's behavior. We need depictions of men holding other men to account.
Last note on Happy. Another way he’s marked as a normal working class guy is he’s quick to brawl. He tries to use fisticuffs to prove his worth and his manhood. But since he’s not one of the MCU's “great men” like Tony, Happy is comically bad at fighting most of the time.
Marvel’s decision to cast Ben Kingsley as a character pretending to be The Mandarin (rather than The Mandarin himself) attempts to sidestep accusations of orientalism attached to that supervillain (for now). Still there are issues...
As will become a pattern in the MCU, the villain’s stated goals reference real-life injustices or social issues. In this case it's atrocities committed by the US government and US corporations. This is the MCU’s first "pseudo-social justice villain" but it won’t be its last.
The Fake Mandarin references the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre which is a real massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho people by the US Army. It’s a horrific historical atrocity but of course the Iron Man 3 writers don't care about that event, it’s just used as pretext and misdirection.
So in Iron Man 3 we have a real critique of US foreign policy based in history but it’s voiced by the villain and it's ultimately just a manipulative trick used as a pretext for terrorism (which is in turn just misdirection for some guy’s elaborate personal quest for power.)
The atrocities mentioned (both real and fictional) are never addressed. The US human rights abuses are ignored. The oil company isn’t held accountable. The US president who protected oil executives isn’t held accountable. In short our heroes successfully protect the status quo.
MCU villains are often transformative. Their stated goals identify systemic issues, which they try to do something about (of course that something is always mass murder). The heroes stop them and in so doing protect institutional power structures and preserve the status quo.
MCU superheroes are reactive. They don’t use their powers to enact systemic social change. They use their powers to prevent others from enacting destructive change. In this way systemic social transformation in the MCU is nearly always framed as something villainous.
There's a weird offhand common from Trevor Slattery that reads as homophobic. This is the second homophobic quip in the Iron Man 3 movie. The "joke" seems to be that due to his drug addiction he had to resort to prostitution on the street.
The MCU One-Shot "All Hail The King" doubles down on casual homophobia when Trevor quips about gay sex in prison, adding an exaggerated wink. This is meant to be funny because it implies he secretly likes it? Not a great look for a franchise with no LGBT characters to this point.
Iron Man 3 starts with an intriguing premise: What if a superhero struggled with PTSD and associated symptoms like anxiety or panic attacks? There's a lot of potential in that setup, unfortunately the movie fails spectacularly in how it represents PTSD (and other ability issues).
On the one hand, it's refreshing to see a male action hero displaying vulnerability both physical and emotional. On the other hand, the way Tony deals with, and ultimately overcomes, his anxiety is through even more unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors.
Jarvis and Rhodes both try to help Tony but he ignores them. He finally tells Pepper he's not doing well but then decides he must go off and "fix" the problem on his own. Tony admits to the kid he should probably be on medication but he doesn't actually seek out help from anyone.
So how is Tony able to "cure" his severe PTSD and anxiety attacks in this movie? Through therapy? Nope. Through medication? Nope. With the support of friends and family. Nope. All of the above? Definitely not.
After the kid reminds Tony he's a mechanic, Iron Man 3 tells us that Tony "cures" himself of PTSD and severe anxiety attacks by (drumroll please) building a DIY combat suit from stuff at Home Depot and then using it to single handedly storm the bad guy's compound! All better!
Let me say that again. The Iron Man 3 writers decided to have Tony "cure" himself of PTSD by killing a bunch of guys with homemade guns and explosives, thus proving he's a real superhero even without his suit. I can't think of a worse way to address serious mental health issues.
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