EDITORIAL: Why I Think Tony Allowed Rhodey To Take His Armor In IRON MAN 2
Have you ever wondered why Rhodey was able to take the Mark II Iron Man armor so easily? I offer an in depth analysis on this situation, where I will discuss the comics, Tony's legacy, his relationship with Pepper, and much more!
Are you ready for the earth shaking, shocking, mind blowing explanation for why Tony allowed Rhodey to take his Mark II armor?
He wanted Rhodey to become Iron Man.
Let me just say that I am not clueless, I realize that this movie debuted more than three years ago, and it is no longer a topic of heated debate. I also realize that plenty of people have probably already assumed this, but bear with me, as I try to explain some of Tony’s more erratic behavior.
The comics themselves support this theory. In Iron Man issue 284, Tony Stark dies. He leaves a message for James Rhodes, asking him to take over the role as Iron Man, and also become the new CEO of Stark Enterprises. Of course, it is later revealed (in the same issue) that Tony was actually in a state of cryogenic suspension.
Why am I telling you this? Because all of Tony’s actions in Iron Man 2 can be linked back to one key idea: Tony is preparing for his own death. In the comics, he knows he will probably survive, but in the movie, he believes his days are numbered.
A key theme of the first two Iron Man movies is an individual’s legacy. During these films, there are multiple moments where Tony ponders what he will be remembered for, and what he will leave behind when he dies. In the first movie, Tony realized he did not want to be remembered as someone who creates tools of destruction, so he stopped making weapons.
Continuing with that idea in the sequel, Tony revives the Stark Expo, in an attempt to build a legacy as a technological innovator, using his brilliance to do more than just create weapons. Knowing he does not have much longer to live, he becomes even more reckless. He gets drunk and throws a crazy party. He decides to drive his own race car in a professional race in Monaco. He also gets rid of many of his worldly possessions, including donating his modern art collection to the Boy Scouts of America.
However, the most significant thing he does in preparation for his own death is promoting Pepper to CEO of Stark Industries. There are two reasons Tony does this: He wants to give Pepper a solid financial backing and a steady occupation after he departs, and he wants the company to be run by a competent individual of sound mind. Tony knows first hand the danger of promoting the wrong person. (Obadiah Stane, anyone?) Furthermore, promoting Pepper is another step toward continuing his legacy. Stark Industries, in a way, is his greatest material possession, and he wants the legacy of his company to continue long after he is gone.
While Stark Industries may be his greatest material possession, Tony’s greatest personal identity is Iron Man. If he surrenders the weapon to the government, and then dies, then his life would be no better than if he had died in that cave in Afghanistan. The government would transform the Iron Man armor into a weapon, and the only thing Tony Stark would be remembered for is someone who created a weapon of mass destruction. (At least, that is what Tony assumes. When the government does acquire the Iron Man armor, they use it as a publicity stunt, but Tony had no way of knowing this.)
So instead, Tony wants to surrender the Iron Man identity to an individual. An individual could continue the legacy Tony started as Iron Man. The perfect individual for this job is James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Not only is he one of the most responsible men that Tony knows, he is also an experienced pilot. Add in the fact that he is far more disciplined, and actually has combat training, and you could argue that Rhodey is far more qualified to fly the suit than Tony is.
The only reason Rhodey would be a less than stellar candidate is that technology is not his field of expertise. Of course, there are ways of getting around this. Tony could train him, provide plenty of technical manuals, and JARVIS could also assist Rhodey in almost every way. Unfortunately, Rhodey would not be able to constantly update the armor. Perhaps that is another reason for the Stark Expo, to find someone with the brilliance of Stark who could provide new suits for Rhodey.
One could argue that giving the suit to Rhodey is basically the same thing as giving it to the government, but that is not necessarily true. Sure, Rhodey brings it straight to Uncle Sam after he takes it, but I am pretty sure Tony did not want this. Most likely, Tony wanted to give Rhodey the Iron Man armors under a legally binding contract that specified stated they could not be donated to the military.
Why, you may ask, did Tony never actually tell Rhodey about his plans? For the same reason he never told Pepper that he was dying, at least not until he was well. He is an immature, reckless, somewhat selfish man who has a really hard time talking about his feelings. Telling a loved one you are dying is a really difficult thing to do, and even when Rhodey points out the “high-tech crossword puzzle” on Tony’s neck, Tony decides he is not ready to explain it.
In fact, in the comics, Tony never tells Rhodey that he wants him to take over as Iron Man until after his supposed death. He leaves a hologram of himself explaining the situation. This is something I can easily imagine Tony doing in the movies.
If you believe Tony wanted Rhodey to become Iron Man, everything makes a lot more sense- the armor fits Rhodey perfectly, and it has its own power source. JARVIS does not stop Rhodey, nor does any security system even attempt to slow him down.
Tony allowed Rhodey to take the armor in order to continue his legacy as Iron Man. If everything went as Tony planned it, he would be dead, and Rhodey would be in charge of world peace. Iron Man 3 would certainly be interesting.
You have finished reading about my theory! Do you agree? Disagree? Do you wonder why Rhodey’s massive plastic surgery in between the first two movies was never referenced? Let me know in the comments!
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