Joe Robert Cole, a co-writer of Marvel's "Black Panther," isn't so sure that Tony Stark, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's poster boy, would succeed as well with audiences if introduced today.
During a SXSW panel called "Superhero Science" on Saturday, Cole called out the character, played by Robert Downey Jr., for being "douchey and disrespectful to women."
“Think about where we are now, with this very vapid, unintelligent president and our world is crackling on the edges because of that," Cole said when asked about superhero values, IndieWire reported. "Think back to Tony Stark, him being douchey and being okay. If that character, Stark, was created in a movie today, I wonder if the response would be like, ‘Oh, it’s cool that he’s douchey and disrespectful to women … That’s fine.’ I think we’re at a different place. I think it’s a better place.”
The Stark/Iron Man character was introduced in 2008's "Iron Man" to critical and commercial success, but a lot has changed since then. Political tension has been high during Trump's presidency, and the emergence of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements has had an effect on Hollywood. In "Iron Man," Stark is introduced as a wise-cracking womanizer. By contrast, Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, is surrounded by a female army, commanded by Okoye, played by Danai Gurira.
"Black Panther" has received acclaim for featuring a diverse cast of notable female characters, and that is going over quite well with audiences. The film just reached R11 billion globally and remained the number one movie at the domestic box office for the fourth straight weekend, edging out "A Wrinkle in Time."