#just look at tony’s face #fucking look at his expression #steve’s kind of just. staring #and tony’s fucking heartbroken #you can see it in his eyes. his heart? it’s broken #all over the fucking place
Goddamn it I really thought I was done with the part of my life where I choked on Tony feelings and spat them all over tumblr, OKAY, HERE WE GO, SORRY GUYS. Trigger warning for discussion of suicide—that’s in the tags too, and kind of obvious given the content of the gif, but for real, trigger warning for discussion of suicide.
Here’s the deal: Tony Stark has long been in the business of making self-destructive look good. I don’t even really mean that as tongue in cheek—at the end of the day, until he gets to the point where he literally can’t anymore, that is what Tony does. Dying of blood poisoning? Play it cool, don’t mention it, hop in a race car, throw a wild party. Feeling worthless and unloved? Egg someone on, put on a super suit, risk your life, put it all on the line. Even Tony as we see him in The Avengers, who is clearly supposed to be in a healthier place than the Tony we get to know in IM & IM2, doesn’t hesitate to fly that nuke into the portal, even though he knows it’s almost certain death, and this is because Tony Stark has been courting almost certain death his whole life. Tony Stark, in many ways, really can be summed up with the question, “You got any other bad ideas?”
And this is, of course, why he’s so quick to understand Bruce, why it matters so much to him that Bruce start looking at himself differently—in some ways, the things Tony says to Bruce are things he wants to say to himself, but never could for whatever reason (years of self-loathing/years of forcible emotional repression/years of neglect and abandonment issues/what have you). Tony really is a fan of the way Bruce loses control and becomes a giant green rage monster, because he gets what it is to not feel like you’re in charge of part of yourself, and to hate that part of yourself as a result. On top of that, Bruce is incredibly intelligent and incredibly self-possessed until he isn’t—of course he strikes a nerve. He would have struck a nerve even if Tony didn’t find himself liking the guy, which he visibly does.
And then there’s this scene, and it guts him. It guts him because he’s beginning to care about Bruce, of course, but they haven’t really known each other that long, so that’s not all of what’s going on. No, this guts him because this act—the finality of what Bruce tried to do—is a line Tony himself has never crossed. He’s courted death, sure; hell, he’s even knocked on death’s door and yelled “Open up, you asshole, what do you want me to do, just sit out here forever? You just gonna leave me here? Really?” Tony has drank himself into a stupor and thrown himself into situations he shouldn’t have gotten out of, Tony has exacerbated a terminal condition because it was better to die than give up doing the only thing that made him feel like living, Tony has wanted to die, or thought he wanted to. But Tony has never put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He’s courted death, but he’s never demanded it that way, and the fact that Bruce—with whom he shares so many traits, and for whom he has so much more respect than he has for himself—has gotten to that point, has been brought that low, is fucking heartbreaking.
The thing is, though: Tony Stark has one of the more intense savior complexes in a cadre of people with savior complexes, and I think this moment was necessary on a lot of different levels. Before this, Tony’s trying (whether he knows it or not, and I’d argue that he doesn’t, at least not fully) to save Bruce—after this, Tony trusts that Bruce will save himself, is there to be support for that instead. And that’s so much healthier for both of them, and much more solid ground for whatever you see in this relationship, be it romance or friendship or team camaraderie.
TL;DR: TONY, BRUCE, I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT YOU GUYS.
Gyzym’s feelings are basically my feelings. It took me a while to admit that to myself, because I like to pretend that my thoughts are original and unique, but nope.
Actually, I was having a conversation with asyoumightimagine approximately 48 hours ago in which we were discussing how a fic she was reading apparently had Tony attempt suicide, and I just found that so out of character because to me, Tony is a character who sort of has a death wish in many ways — all of Iron Man 2, for crying out loud — but it expresses itself mostly through him doing all the things that Gyzym mentioned, through him throwing himself into dangerous situations and not necessarily being certain he would walk back out again. Which in many ways combines with his savior complex, so that he’ll do things like, oh, fly a nuclear bomb through a portal into another universe.
But on the other hand, there’s always the possibility that he or someone else can cut the wire, like he said. Tony Stark, as I said when I was watching the movie, is the luckiest son of a bitch in the entire world; he flies a nuclear bomb into almost certain death but there’s always the chance that he’s going to fall back to reality just in time. He exacerbated his terminal condition but when he realized that he could pretty much rewrite the rules of everything and create a new element, he did it, because when Tony Stark is given a way out he will take it.
For most people, there’s no way out of a gun to the mouth. (With other methods, there’s maybe a slightly more variable chance — I have friends who have done that, Pete Wentz has done that, etc. But a gun? No.) I don’t think Tony would ever sit down and say, “I’m ready for this to be over, and I’m going to take the steps necessary for that to happen.”
And I think the fact that Bruce has hits Tony in a place he never really expected to be hit, because Tony has always been surrounded by people who have their shit together. I mean, his dad had his shit together in an arguable way, maybe, and Obie was clearly a crazypants, but Obie was a crazypants with a plan, with malice aforethought and backers and connections. Pepper and Rhodey are both incredibly competent, incredibly well-adjusted people. Tony has always been the loose cannon, the one closest to the bottom, but now he isn’t.
Sort of, at least. I’m wondering, actually, if that’s a little bit of what Gyzym meant in the last paragraph, about Tony trusting Bruce to save himself, because in many ways both of them have been waaay down there (again, Iron Man 2) and have sort of fought their way back to a place at least of equilibrium, if not comfort. I wonder if this scene is Tony recognizing that in Bruce.
And on a broader sense, I think that’s why I have so many feelings about the Avengers in general, because holy crap, you know you have problems when Thor is probably the least fucked-up out of everyone. Loki was right; they really are such lost creatures — but the lost recognise the lost, don’t they? And they say, “Okay, fine, let’s search together for a while; I’ll look out for yours and you’ll look out for mine.”