SPOILERS BELOW: Do not read if you haven’t yet watched the Avengers: Endgame saga.
Dear Robert Downey, Jr.,
Your portrayal of a character who transitions from a cocky, elitist millionaire to a truly beloved person isn’t what I expected when seeing you in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for the first time. In my life, there are few characters that have created a bond that seems everlasting. Those that do have their own unique paths in life, as well as specific characteristics that stand out above the rest.
Yes, you are Iron Man. Yes, the iconic character (portrayed by you) brings an element of charisma that I can only dream of having. The level of confidence that drips from this character, let alone the dialogue from the writing team, is beyond anything I can imagine leaving my lips. Don’t get me wrong: Trash talk isn’t on my list of things to do, but the transition of a character, such as Tony Stark, allows for such charisma to lead the way in a path to doing the right thing.
World peace, or even just peace of mind.
Is it impossible?
Oh, Tony Stark. Your time at the Stark Expo seems like such a distant memory, but your desire to do what you think is right seems like the best defense to everything. “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one.” There are many who don’t understand the levels of your power and the depths of your sincerity, because your perceived (and sometimes accurate) shallow behavior doesn’t encapsulate the scope of your humanity. You are Iron Man. Such a mantel of responsibility doesn’t weigh lightly on you, and the struggles associated with your successes are equally as appreciated.
From the first Iron Man to the devastating end of Avengers: Endgame, your character has attached itself to my soul. Such likability doesn’t come easily for me. There are realizations that Stark is not perfect. It’s an infinite feeling I have within my own bones, and seeing those struggles with you trying to be something important matters to me. I witness the internal struggles, moments of doubts, and the overwhelming sense of not doing enough floods my veins in such a similar way. Clearly, I am in no way Tony Stark or Iron Man, though the bond I feel with the Iron Man character is a result of your exquisite portrayal.
If it wasn’t for your charm or humorous banter, I might not have a desire to stick around for so many of the continuing journeys portrayed in the MCU. This journey within the MCU began with one film. And, quite frankly, it was always better with you in its life. Now, I can’t imagine moving forward in an MCU (phase 4 and beyond) that doesn’t involve your living being. The person Stark becomes, flaws and all, has a meaning much more important than I can ever give myself credit. You wanted to do the right thing. Tony Stark wanted to be a beacon of change – a way to protect the world. Along that path, you created a bond with me that represents an elaborate story highlighting what it takes to do good above evil.
In what way can I make sure to highlight those same qualities? I want to be equally enthusiastic and confident. There are days that I want to prove that I belong in a singular role that should define me. Some days, I do not accept failure. I cannot. There are also moments that haunt me when I think about the ways I’ve done anything less than be available for every opportunity. But, I have failed. I struggle with my own despair in the face of questioning my significance as a writer, a husband, a father – oh, the fear of failure can consume me.
Robert Downey, Jr., your constant enthusiasm - on and off-screen - defines the wonderful exuberance that lands itself onto the big screen. Tony Stark, a character who you portray perfectly, allows me and others to see that feelings of despair do not limit who we are, but allow us to understand that those moments can and will pass. Your impact is something that will resonate for the rest of my life. The beginning. The end. It will never escape me: the fact that your character is now gone.
I will miss the incomparable Tony Stark. Thank you for capturing a spark that did more than keep fragments of metal away from your own heart. You captured mine.