Personality Types Theory and Research Articles

“I Am Iron Man”: Profile of a Turbulent Commander (Avengers Personality Series)

Monica 5 months ago 24 comments

With the mind-bending cliff-hanger of Avengers: Infinity War hopefully coming to an end with the release of Marvel’s newest Avengers movie this April, we thought we would give in to our inner nerds and take a moment to consider the personalities of some of our favorite Avengers.

To start, let’s take a look at the charismatic leader and one of the key forces behind the Avengers, Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man.

Captain America: Big man in a suit of armor – take that off, what are you?
Tony Stark: Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist.

Tony Stark is the sort of man who can build anything out of almost nothing. The ultimate visionary, inventor, and entrepreneur, Tony Stark approaches the world with the single-minded determination to make it better, and he pretty much delivers.

When he needs to repair his heart and make an escape? He cobbles together a power source and an armored suit from spare parts. Make the world a safer place? He changes the direction of his armament company overnight. Looking for an alternative energy source for the world? Check out his awesome new clean energy generator. Need the ultimate superhero world defenders? Behold, the Avengers! He’s a man with a vision and the will to make it happen.

Sensitive to other people’s feelings? Not at all.

Despite being the “big-picture” guy and the “get-things-done” guy all in one outwardly cool package, he’s definitely not the “get-everyone-to-work-together-at-their-full-potential” kind of guy, nor is he always the fount of confidence he projects to the world.

He is strongly willful, doesn’t work well with any authority other than his own, and will enthusiastically tear down just about anyone who challenges him. He’s complicated, a little self-absorbed, and sometimes moody. We at 16Personalities think he is the ultimate Commander personality type with a seriously Turbulent streak.

Fortunately for the superhero world, Tony Stark is perceptive enough to identify his shortcomings and find people to shore up his weaknesses. For example, he gets Pepper Potts, his girlfriend/fiancée to take over as the CEO of Stark Enterprises, and she winds up doing a masterful job running the day-to-day business side of his company. (Our best guess is that she is well-suited for the job with an Assertive Executive – ESTJ-A – personality type.)

He also finds a solution to his lack of any practical people management skills in Captain America, who handles the day-to-day training and takes on the role of mission leader of the Avengers.

“Actually, he’s the boss [pointing to Captain America]. I just pay for everything, and design everything, and make everyone look cooler.”

Tony Stark

Personality Analysis

With all that in mind, let’s dive into the detailed traits of Tony Stark’s Turbulent Commander (ENTJ-T) personality.

Extraverted

Tony’s always out and about, doing his thing with the absolute biggest audience he can possibly find. He loves being the center of attention and the focus of every gathering. And he just can’t resist stepping into the limelight as a self-acknowledged superhero. Yup, Extravert.

Intuitive

If Tony has a motto, it’s “Invent. Reinvent. Invent it again.” He couldn’t be satisfied with the world around him if he tried – which he doesn’t. He doesn’t look at the world to see what is there – he looks to see how it could be changed, improved, and rebuilt.

Thinking

While Tony Stark does have emotional complexity, a lot of this comes from the Turbulent side of his personality. His mind actually works in a much more linear and logical direction. He can absorb information and start seeing all the implications of it immediately. When facing demanding situations, he deals with things directly with the clarity (and snark) of a Thinking personality type.

Captain America: The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.
Tony Stark: I think I would just cut the wire.

Judging

This might be the area of Tony Stark’s personality type that will provoke the most debate, but within our framework, we believe he is a Judging type.

Yes, Tony Stark has a Prospecting side. No one solely exhibits one personality trait or another, and he has Prospecting aspects to his personality as well as Judging. He can be impulsive and may readily skip planning entirely in favor of action, if the situation calls for it. Ultimately, though, he tips toward the Judging personality trait.

When he sets his mind to it, he can champion and pull off even the most amazing and unlikely plans – from building the Iron Man suit in the first place, to building massive and independently powered skyscrapers, to helping form the ultimate superhero team, to saving the world. While his plans change over time, he sets his goals and sees them through to the end, he’s committed to success even if that means making sacrifices, and he relies solidly on his own judgement for decision-making, almost never bothering with input from others.

Remember also that Tony Stark’s mind works very quickly. He’s likely to have thought ten moves ahead of everyone else when he makes decisions. He has probably habituated himself to ignoring others because they just seem so far behind where his mind has already landed.

Sometimes what appears impulsive is much better thought out than it may seem to be. In our opinion, the most significantly erratic side of his personality – his recklessly impulsive, self-indulgent, and self-destructive side – stems from his Turbulent trait.

Turbulent

As a character, one of the elements that makes Tony Stark so interesting, complex, and relatable is his intensely Turbulent Identity. Despite his losing battle to hide it as much as possible, Tony’s dark moods and intense emotional reactivity show themselves on a regular basis and can wreak absolute havoc in the world around him. (Consider the entire Iron Man 2 movie as an example.)

Tony’s Turbulent personality trait is really what makes him who he is and is the biggest driver along the path that took him from self-indulgent, playboy businessman to an actual self-sacrificing superhero. Here are just a few of the sources of his Turbulence:

  • His parents dying in a car crash when he was younger.
  • Some latent guilt over being born so privileged.
  • The attack on his convoy in Afghanistan and his subsequent capture and injury (a wound that would have killed him by literally tearing apart his heart).
  • Finding out his company’s weapons were being supplied to – and used by – terrorist organizations.
  • Having the device that keeps him alive start to kill him.
  • Finding out his parents’ deaths weren’t an accident, but a deliberate assassination.
  • All the deaths that he thinks he is responsible for – and since he is a Commander, that’s a lot. This includes, but is not limited to, those people killed by his company’s weaponry, the people killed in his convoy, damage and lives lost in the battle of Manhattan, and the destruction caused to Sokovia.
  • And, to start the next Avengers movie off, our nerdy guess is that we’ll get to watch him torture himself over all the deaths he could not prevent at the end of Infinity War.

The Turbulent personality trait often serves as a driver. In Tony Stark’s case, this trait drives him hard to make amends for things for which he feels responsible. It drove him to take up being a superhero in the first place. It drives his initiatives to bring clean energy to the world and to provide scholarships and seed money to aspiring young inventors and students, and ultimately it drives him to take up leadership of the Avengers.

His Turbulent Identity also leaves him with the flippant, wild, moody, self-destructive, and impulsive behavior that makes him such an interesting, widely appealing character.

Conclusions

“It is one thing to question the official story, and another thing entirely to make wild accusations or insinuate that I’m, uh, a superhero... Because that would be outlandish and, uh, fantastic. I’m... just not the hero type. Clearly. With this laundry list of character defects, all the mistakes I’ve made (largely public)...
The truth is...
I am Iron Man.”

Tony Stark

When typing fictional characters here at 16Personalities, the type we present is determined only by what we’ve seen of the character’s behavior and actions in the movies or books in which they appear. Ultimately, they are fictional and are used as a way to help others better understand aspects of personality type.

This personality typing is based on the character as portrayed in Marvel’s Iron Man and Avengers movies dating from 2008–2018. Watch this space for more Avenger personality profiles, coming soon!

So, do you have your own thoughts about Tony Stark’s personality? Let us know in the comments below!

Further Reading

“Vengeance Is Mine,” Sayeth... Analysts?

What Does a Genius Look Like?

Personality Type and the Satisfaction of Feeling Superior

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