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Tony Stark in the “Avengers: Age of Ultron”


Within the framework of the current paper, the author intends to review the personality of Tony Stark, also known as the Iron Man in the Marvel Comics Universe. The particular area of discussion is the application of the cognitive learning theory to Stark’s personality to explain his thoughts and actions throughout Avengers: Age of Ultron. First, the author is going to provide basic information about the theory itself and then translate it into practical knowledge based on Iron Man’s behavior displayed throughout the movie. This is an important task because it will represent Tony Stark from a different perspective.

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Nevertheless, the upcoming analysis is limited to one movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which could be a challenge for a more in-depth analysis of Iron Man’s personality. This paper intends to prove that Tony Stark is flexible enough to learn new behaviors and realize his mistakes without blaming other Avengers.

Theoretical Background

In order to address specific personality traits of Iron Man, the author of the current paper chose the cognitive learning theory because it directly relates to how individuals tend to process information when they are continuously involved in the process of learning. According to Wright, Brown, Thase, and Basco (2017), it is most common for people to remember something when they are listening attentively, and the intended teacher stands in front of the class, lecturing them on the given topic. Even though the audience does not see any direct representations of such behavior across Avengers: Age of Ultron, it may be stated that the cognitive learning theory is what allowed Tony Stark to overcome his personal fears and defeat Ultron, with the latter being the Iron Man’s very ‘child.’ In order to explain Stark’s comportment, the author is going to apply the cognitive-behavioral section of the cognitive learning theory.

Tony Stark’s Analysis

The complexity of Stark’s personality in Avengers: Age of Ultron is shown through an amalgamation of narcissistic and sarcastic commentary that is required for the audience to realize that Tony Stark is at the top of his abilities and personal qualities. Even though he often talks to others as if he wanted to alienate himself, it is not his primary intention. Instead, the rationale behind his behavior lies in the willingness to prove that he is worthy of appraisal and respect (An & Carr, 2017; Wang & Hayden, 2020).

In addition to being a playboy and a billionaire, Stark wants to become a higher figure in the eyes of others because he is often too self-destructive in what and how he does. Stark’s substance abuse represents one of the behavioral aspects of his personality, as he is willing to escape the question of how he could remain on top of the world while retaining love and admiration toward himself. Therefore, the decision to create Ultron might have been an attempt to generate recognition and remain a significant media figure.

The majority of Stark’s behaviors are well-guarded because of his inner belief that he does not get along well with others. Avengers: Age of Ultron does not really dwell on the history of Stark’s relationships with his parents, but interactions with other members of the Avengers team may be enough to conclude that there are many repressed feelings that Stark does not want other people to see. One cognitive ability that Stark seems to lack is the formation of strong emotional attachments.

This is in line with Beck (2020), who believed that most fragmented personalities derive from the inability to experience love, respect, and true friendship. Nevertheless, there are even more behavioral factors proving that cognitive learning theory could be the best instrument to analyze and describe him. Even though Stark does not seem to be caring about others, he quickly learns that the Iron Man is the one responsible for the rise of Ultron and all the damages given to Sokovia.

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Stark’s concern for the future generations grows quickly, and he tries to do whatever in his powers to establish world peace and defeat Ultron, his own ‘child.’ In this case, the audience could also refer to the concept of super-ego in order to see that Stark finally realizes during Avengers: Age of Ultron that his actions cause irreversible consequences and he should be careful about how he approaches the process of saving the world. Even though Stark does not display it audibly, his willingness to save others out of altruistic beliefs and not for media presence becomes his essential reason for living.

The ultimate trait which can be reviewed within the framework of the current paper is Tony Stark’s sense of humor. It helps him overcome the hardships and develop closer relationships with others much quicker than if he was serious at all times. As a genuine innovator, Stark is mostly sarcastic, but he never fails to respond to a person or a situation in a way which would help him lighten the mood. The Iron Man is the Avengers’ power broker, and he does everything to ensure that the team is going to succeed. With his wittiness and quickness, Tony Stark minimizes the negative influence of turbulence and tends to remain collected even during the most complex scenarios.


An, D., & Carr, M. (2017). Learning styles theory fails to explain learning and achievement: Recommendations for alternative approaches. Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 410-416.

Beck, J. S. (2020). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Publications.

Wang, M. Z., & Hayden, B. Y. (2020). Latent learning, cognitive maps, and curiosity. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 38, 1-7.

Wright, J. H., Brown, G. K., Thase, M. E., & Basco, M. R. (2017). Learning cognitive-behavior therapy: An illustrated guide (2nd ed.). New York, NY: American Psychiatric Pub.

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