Disciple of Thecla
1/15/13 at 07:50 AM 5 Comments

Iron Man: The Relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts

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Photo: Sam Howzit - Creative Commons

A couple months ago, I ended up watching some superhero movies - Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. Those were definitely a lot of fun. The ending to Iron Man was the best ending I have ever seen in a superhero movie. I enjoyed it so much that I went and purchased the sequel. Then, I watched Avengers. These movies were complete fun. I really enjoy seeing heroes defeat the villains. To my delight, all these movies have sequels in the works or planning stages. The third Iron Man sequel will come out first.

As I watched those movies, I noticed something unique in relationship between title character Tony Stark and his friend Pepper Potts. In order to explain what makes this relationship so unique, I must provide some background information about Tony Stark. This character begins as quite a sinner. This post will contain mild spoilers for Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Avengers.

The title character Tony Stark starts out as an egotistical and self-absorbed sinner who goes through a massive life-changing experience during three months in Afghanistan. This experience changes him and leads him to become a superhero. Prior to this, however, he used women sexually so that he could blackmail them later if they threatened his business.

When I was watching at one point very early on, I started to ask myself, "Should I stop the movie? This is not a superhero I want to see." Yes, he was that much of a sleazebag.

Fortunately, he goes through a massive life-changing experience that lasts three months. After this experience, Tony Stark regrets his past actions, appreciates more fully the people around him, and strives to undo all the damage he had done. Some of his ego remains evident in the second movie, but overall, he has definitely changed for the better. Stark goes from being a sleazebag in the first movie to simply a jerk in the second movie.

In many ways, as a superhero, he is the most realistic character in his flaws and failings. Even after he reformed in the first movie, he continued to disappoint and let down his best friends. Sometimes, his own ego blinds him to who his true friends really are and blinds him from any consideration. The movies never excuse his behavior and show him to be in the wrong through their responses to his behavior - that his actions do have consequences and that he should be more considerate of his friends.

Now, back to the relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. This is what makes their relationship so unique. These two characters have a genuine and growing romance where sexual attraction is absent between them. It is a romance without sexual attraction.

In the first movie, Tony wanted to dance with her and kiss her, but she pushed him away and refused to become like his other women. Tony immediately regretted the dance and the kiss because he never wanted her to be that way, either. Out of all the women, he truly loves her, appreciates her, and values her human worth. This appreciation plus his break from a sinful past has eliminated any sexual attraction between them.

This relationship proves that there is a big difference between love and sex. One should never be a synonym for the other. This relationship shows that love is emotional and spiritual, freed from any physical impulses. In the second movie and in Avengers, these two characters are seen genuinely appreciating each other's company. Tony Stark has begun cooking meals for Pepper Potts and recognizes her management and leadership skills. To show his appreciation for her leadership skills, he gives her a hefty promotion.

When he faced certain death in the second movie, he tried to push her away from him because he did not want loved ones to suffer through watching his death. However, he alienated his friends and injured them deeply. In the Avengers movie, Tony Stark faced certain death again. The last person he sought to contact was Pepper Potts, and he was distraught when the call failed to reach her.

There is a third movie coming out this year, and I don't know what will happen to the relationship or how they will develop it. I've never read the comic books, so I don't know how the relationship developed through the myriad storylines. I do know movies diverge from comics in many places while keeping in place the core of who these characters are. The conclusion of many other stories have disappointed me in the past and ruined my expectations. The last Pirate movie with Orlando Bloom ruined the series for me.

Right now, I have a great deal of hope to see something unique in the relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts - a romance based strictly upon mutual appreciation and love which exists on a spiritual and emotional level, which becomes more obvious in the absence of selfish physical wants. When selfish sexual desires are removed from the equation, then what remains is how two people truly feel and think about each other. When what remains is only how they feel about each other, then the audience can see whether they truly love each other.

I'm really excited about the third Iron Man movie coming out. There are also sequels to Thor and Captain America in the works. It is great to see good guys defeat the bad guys. I hope the series continues for each one because ultimately, these movies are just fun to watch.


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