The MCU may be about the entire Avengers team, but right from the beginning, Iron Man has taken center stage in the narrative. With the explosive popularity of Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark has become the defacto leader of The Avengers and in many ways the main protagonist of the MCU.
Even in Infinity War, despite the presence of other heroes, the enmity between Tony and the main villain of the piece, Thanos, feels oddly personal. And that is because, in many ways, Tony and Thanos are shown to mirror each other. Don’t believe us? Check out our list of ways the two characters are just like each other!
8 They both have a savior complex
It’s a natural thing for Tony Stark to have a savior complex. He is a superhero after all, but that characteristic is even more pronounced in Tony than in the other Avengers. Captain America and the other heroes believe in pooling their resources together to fight a threat. But Tony is convinced that even among the other heroes, he is the cleverest and wisest, and thus he feels a responsibility to save not only the world but the other heroes as well. That was the main reason why Tony created Ultron in Age of Ultron. He wanted to invent something that kept the world safe and did not even bother consulting the other heroes because he was convinced he alone knew what was best for world safety.
Similarly, Thanos possesses a savior complex that has convinced him that he and he alone recognizes the danger of overpopulation across the universe, and he alone possesses a working solution: eliminate half of all life. Just like with Tony and Ultron, when other people try to convince Thanos that his method is wrong, he ignores their warnings and is utterly convinced that he alone has the wisdom to see that his way is the right way and the only way to save everyone.
7 They’re willing to dabble in dangerous technology that could destroy them
Tony has never shied away from putting his own life in danger when it came to his inventions. He was willing to place a radically new source of energy in his own chest to save his life in the first film. Every time Tony puts on a new Iron Man armor, he is trusting his life to an untested piece of tech that could easily backfire and take his life.
Thanos is willing to go to any lengths to possess the power of the Infinity Stones, even though no one else before him has ever managed to do so and there is no telling what the stones would do to the man who brings them together. Where other people are afraid to handle even one stone at a time, Thanos goes after all six because he believes he needs them to complete his mission.
6 They don’t care about what others think of their methods
How many times has Tony fought with Captain America and the other heroes because they were unwilling to support his decisions? Tony even fought with the US government itself because they were trying to dictate the ownership of his armor to him. Every time Tony states an unpopular opinion, he digs his heels in harder and refuses to budge on the issue, no matter what the cost.
Thanos has the same absolute belief in his own methods. He refuses to listen to Gamora, the Guardians of the Galaxy or the countless others who must have told him to turn away from his path of destruction. This stubbornness has been Thanos’s most defining characteristic, as he moves from one world to another across the universe in search of the Infinity Stones.
5 They both have that one person they love more than anything else
Considering how stubborn Tony is, you might think that there is no one he would ever listen to, but he listens to Pepper Potts because Tony loves Pepper in a way that is unlike his love for anyone else. All that arrogance and confidence that Tony shows to the rest of the world melts away whenever Pepper confronts him. It is this all-consuming love for Pepper that drives Tony to make the biggest decisions of his life and actually gets him to change his mind a few times.
With Thanos, his love for Gamora cannot be questioned. Even if he ended up killing her, thanks to some fantastic acting by Josh Brolin, we got to see just how much it cost Thanos to end Gamora’s life. Even his eventual victory will be forever tainted by the fact that Thanos had to give up that which he loved the most in order to win. Despite his impenetrable exterior, Gamora was the one thing in all the universe that could bring tears to the Mad Titan’s eyes.
4 They rationalize away their worst decisions as necessary for the greater good
Tony is the master of pragmatic behavior. He has done some terrible things in the past, like creating weapons of mass destruction, creating Ultron, or turning against Captain America and half of his former allies. However, Tony was able to rationalize every one of his bad decisions as something that had to be done.
Thanos also has a perfectly rational explanation for his every action, even if the rationality of his actions is questionable. Thanos has a philosophy that perfectly supports his world view and he is able to use that personal philosophy to deflect every kind of criticism that is thrown at his decisions. Thanos does not consider himself evil because, in his own mind, it would be a good thing to eliminate half of everything.
3 They both ultimately want peace through force
Tony is a pacifist. This might sound odd, considering he is frequently accused of being a warmonger, but as Tony commented in his first movie, ‘Peace means holding the bigger stick’. Tony does not wage war for the sake of it. His aim is always to find a way to end wars. That is why he stopped manufacturing weapons. and why he became Iron Man. However, that is also why he created Ultron. The end game for Tony has always been to bring about world peace through force.
Thanos also belongs to the ‘You need to break a few eggs to make an omelet’ school of thought. His objective is not to rule the universe. He already possesses immense power and wealth. His aim is to leverage his resources to bring about lasting peace in the universe, even if half the population needs to die in order to achieve that peace.
2 They never give up, no matter what
Try to imagine how many hours a day Tony has to work in order to run a multi-billion dollar business, be an active Avenger and still find time to build a gazillion new armors every year? Every time Tony commits himself to a cause, he is determined to carry it through all the way to the bitter end. Like the time he was willing to go into space carrying a nuclear warhead to destroy the enemy spaceships, even though he knew he would not be able to come back.
Thanos has always shown total and complete dedication to his cause. The combined might of the entire roster of MCU heroes could not deter him from his path. Losing the one person who meant more to him than life itself could not deter him. Everything that could be done physically, mentally and emotionally to break Thanos was tried against him, but he still kept going, until he finally achieved his goal.
1 They both abhor unnecessary violence
Strange to consider, but Thanos has a very gentlemanly presence throughout Infinity War. He always speaks to people politely. He is considerate of their feelings, like when he comforted Scarlet Witch after she killed Vision. He is even willing to let his enemies escape if there is no purpose served in killing them. Thanos may be ruthless but he his not cruel.
When Tony fought Bucky and Steve at the end of Civil War, he had every right to go all out and eliminate them both, but he kept holding himself back while fighting Cap. Similarly, when fighting the Hulk in Age of Ultron, Tony had no reason to hold back while fighting the green behemoth, but he still kept trying to stall the fight and call out to Bruce to take back control over his mind. Iron Man may own every kind of weapon in the world, but he has no desire to use the weapons unless absolutely necessary. Like Thanos, Tony can be ruthless sometimes. But he is definitely not a cruel man.