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Keeping up with Kincaid: why is Oct. 17 important?

Laken Kincaid
Editor-in-Chief, Laken Kincaid, reflects on their thoughts from the past week.

“So, if I were to wrap this up tight with a bow or whatever, I guess I’d say my armor, it was never a distraction or a hobby: it was a cocoon. And now, I’m a changed man. You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys. One thing you can’t take away? I am Iron Man.” – Tony Stark, “Iron Man 3”

Although my love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe has substantially faded since the onslaught of Disney+ shows reinvented modern MCU lore in early 2021 and “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness” spawned an eternal migraine in summer of 2022, I still consider myself to be a fan of the franchise and all of its intertwined storylines. I have not kept up with recent iterations of “The Avengers” or their various offsprings. However, I still do and always will adore the original Phase One through Phase Three releases (with special places for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “WandaVision”).

One of the reasons I hold these films so close to my heart is because of the characters. Over the years, I have been compared to a variety of these moguls, heroes and villains alike. I can see myself in Loki through his chaotic whims of fancy, Rocket Racoon by his small stature but feisty temper and Peter Parker by his young naivety and his thirst for knowledge. Yet, I think my favorite comparison that I have heard, whether the likeness is true or not, is to Tony Stark.

Yes, I know it is probably self-absorbed to find connections between myself and the self-described genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist, but I think that slight twinge of arrogance is something Stark himself would do. While I was not born into a wealthy, scientific environment, I still consider myself to be quick-witted and a decent leader who can rally various people behind a unifying cause.

Albeit these characteristics are not the only things I try to emulate when looking at Iron Man. Stark, while still entirely brilliant in his own right, does not have the innate qualities of superhuman strength like Captain America or the god-like might that Thor displays. Instead, Stark relies on his intellect to become not only an amazing hero, but one of the greatest protagonists in all of comic book cinema.

I also revere Stark’s vulnerability and how the directors of his films showcase not only his greatest assets but also his deep-seated weaknesses. In “Iron Man 3” our eidolon suffers from crippling anxiety and worries of his own mortality, all while facing massively powerful antagonists and (as most Marvel movies include) the potential end of the world. Before this film, we did not get to see these icons of vigor struggle with anything besides the ultimate “big bad” the movie follows, save for a few romantic endeavors.

With Stark, we get to see that, even for heroes, one of the biggest enemies we face could be ourselves, including a rampant insecurity that plagues our every move. It doesn’t matter if you save the multiverse a few times, that voice inside your head will still make you feel out of control and out of touch with yourself.

When Steve Rogers questions Stark, asking if he is still powerful without his metal suit, he goes out of his way throughout not only the original “Avengers” movie but the entirety of his stint on screen to prove his power beyond the realm of just what he engineers; he shows that the hero is not Iron Man, but the person behind the mask.

This all culminates in “Avengers: Endgame,” where Stark sacrifices his life to end the tyranny of Thanos on, you guessed it, Oct. 17, 2023. This action becomes supercharged when we realize that Stark grew significantly from the original “Iron Man” to the point we see him at when he snaps his fingers; the arrogant chauvinist living large in Manhattan now has a simple life with a wife and a child that he loves more than anything including himself. This growth is palpable and, until we realize Stark is going to trade it all to undo Thanos’ actions in “Avengers: Infinity War,” his happy ending as a husband and dad is enough to make audiences feel fulfilled.

The maturation we see in Stark’s personality over its decade-long arc serves as a punch in the face to Rogers’ former accusation of Iron Man being nothing more than a selfish inventor. Although his egotism that we see at the beginning of the franchise is endearing, he evolves from being insecure to content, from mechanically cold to filled with familial love. Yes, those primary characteristics of haughtiness and smugness are still present up until the moment he says “I am Iron Man” and rights the world of its dusting, but the person who originally grappled for the stones off Earth was not the same person who held the gauntlet amidst the rubble of battle.

For this reason, the canonical death date of Tony Stark holds a special place in my heart. As a storyteller, the long burn of Iron Man’s transformation is euphoric for both the diehard Marvel viewer and the casual cinema goer alike. As a fan, it shows the completion of a plotline where even the most high-octane of champions can admit their faults, fight their own demons and find inner peace beyond the image that they present to the public. Yes, it took 10 years, but we finally get to see that Stark does in fact have a heart and that heart is more complex than we could have ever imagined.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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