Iron Man just gave it all up


The following contains major spoilers for Iron Man #19, available now from Marvel.

Over his decades-long superhero career, Tony Stark has defeated some of the Marvel Universe’s most menacing foes. Iron Man has fought everything from mechanized monstrosities to cosmic gods, but he’s never been able to defeat his demons. At least he never could until he accepted the root of it all. Now that Tony has been brought to the brink and given up his greatest powers, it seems like he finally has the new breath of life he’s been craving for years.

When Tony was imbued with the Power Cosmic, he immediately set his sights on something grander than ever, though it didn’t take long for his hubris to get in the way of that mission. In the aftermath of a horrific encounter with his closest allies, Tony finally realized how far he had fallen and given up power. In what should have been his final moments, Tony managed to come to terms with his shattered sense of humanity in a way that even convinced the villainous Korvac to save him. Beyond anything else, however, what stands out most is the genuine sense of gratitude expressed by Tony. Not just for being saved by his deadliest enemy, but for his new perspective, and that may be what will define Iron Man for years to come.

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While there’s something to be said for Tony’s previous battles with addiction after seeing him return to rehab, never before has the Marvel icon taken those same steps with such optimistic fervor. This shows exactly what state of mind Tony is in after giving up his godlike abilities, not to mention his armor.

Despite how vulnerable he should probably feel, it seems like things have never been better when it comes to Iron Man’s mental health. Of course, the road to recovery will still be long and will surely test that resolve, but there’s no doubt that the emerging Tony Stark will continue to be better than the one that came in. More importantly, the whole world will emerge from all of this with a better Iron Man than ever.

Over the years, Tony’s personal issues have proven to be as much of a hindrance to his superhero duties as any member of his rogues gallery. In fact, his struggles went far beyond self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to using his armor as a very similar sort of crutch. It’s also something that nearly ended his life on more than one occasion, and thankfully, it seems to be another part of himself that Tony is now ready to face. Assuming he’s able to return to action after his recovery, the Iron Man who greets the world will be unlike anything audiences have ever seen before. Tony may even surprise his fellow heroes in this regard, especially if he can make up for all the grief he’s caused them with and without the power cosmic driving him into a murderous frenzy.

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It’s unclear exactly where all of this leads Tony, although the budding romance between him and Patsy Walker has already been teased as leading to something more. Hopefully, their relationship doesn’t become another aspect of Iron Man’s life that eventually threatens to consume his entire being.

Until that’s the case, a more open, confident, and compassionate Iron Man is almost certainly what the world desperately needs, even if no one has ever realized it. This transformation could even result in an Iron Man who is just as capable of directing as he is of tinkering. Considering how far Tony has come in the past few months, it’s hard to imagine him ending up like anything else, and hopefully he will for a long time to come.

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