#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.