The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary after Jon Favreau's Iron Man debuted in 2008. A lot has changed in those 10 years in the entertainment industry and a lot more change has been ushered in over the course of just this past year, which led Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole to declare that Iron Man wouldn't work as a movie today because of Tony Stark's "douchey" behavior and his "disrespect" of women. These are character attributes that Marvel has gone on to try and rectify over the years, but Cole may have a point.
Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is the loveable bad boy of the MCU and he has gone over dramatic changes over the last 10 years. The disrespect to women has been evident for years and something that Marvel even attempted to change for Iron Man 3 and later movies from the MCU. Now, Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole doesn't believe that an Iron Man with the same Tony Stark would be as well received if it were released in this day in age. Responding to a question on whether superheroes' values reflect or shape the culture, Cole said.
"Think about where we are now, with this very vapid, unintelligent president and our world is crackling on the edges because of that. Think back to Tony Stark, him being douchey and being okay. If that character, Stark, was created in a movie today, I wonder if the response would be like, Oh, it's cool that he's douchey and disrespectful to women... That's fine. I think we're at a different place. I think it's a better place."
Black Panther is the first Marvel movie to be led by a predominantly black cast about a black superhero who is made stronger by the female leads. The movie earned over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office in almost exactly 4 weeks and has gone on to become a cultural worldwide phenomenon. Black Panther is now the second-highest grossing superhero movie of all time and is gaining on that number one position, which is held by the first Avengers movie. This lends some credibility to what Joe Robert Cole is saying, however, the heads at Marvel might not be too happy to hear about him calling Tony Stark "douchey."
Joe Robert Cole believes that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a better place currently than it ever has before and many would not argue with him. The immense success of Black Panther is already proving that and we still have Infinity War to look forward to, which will also feature T'Challa and his crew with the last portion of the movie taking place on Wakanda. Marvel has set itself apart from other superhero franchises by constantly evolving and taking the characters in unexpected directions while taking risks.
We'll never know if the original Tony Stark from 2008's Iron Man would be as popular if he were introduced today, but odds are that he probably wouldn't. There would be some pretty heavy backlash involved without a doubt. But Robert Downey Jr.'s take on the character has changed over time and that's important as well. You can read the rest of Joe Robert Cole's comments on the original Iron Man from Indie Wire.