The story of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts is a romantic and yet realistic view into Iron Man’s life, and while the first movie doesn’t really encapsulate it fully, the sequel does. So, I thought I’d showcase a bit of sweetness in this Anatomy of a Scene. It’ll be Valentine’s Day soon, after all.
Now, it goes without saying that there are spoilers in here. Then again, I’d find it kind of surprising if most of the population of Loot Crate readers hadn’t watched Iron Man 2 at this point. However, I had to make sure I was responsible! So, let’s get into it!
This scene takes place after another brutal Tony vs. Rhodey scene where the two of them only came to a stalemate after Natasha aka Black Widow rebooted Rhodey’s commandeered Mark II suit. It’s at this point that he realizes he has no time to goof off with Rhodey and sets off to handle Justin Hammer, who is weaponizing the suits and snatched up Whiplash.
At this point, Natasha lets Tony know things are stabilized and congratulates him on a job well done with sorting out the Paladium toxicity that he had been previously dealing with. Now, Pepper responds sharp and concerned quickly. Tony is a tough nut to crack and the idea that Natasha knew something that devastating about Tony’s life first had her a bit taken aback. Previously, Tony had wanted to clue her in but chickened out at the last second. It’s painful. Letting down Pepper, as he had implied several times before, was not something he had ever been willing to do. They had both been rather open in the fact they’re alone, quite honestly, as Pepper doesn’t have people and either did Tony when it came to family. They were each other’s family.
The bravado of the unflappable Tony Stark is noted here, as interesting as it is, because it’s lost and dissipating quickly when it comes to Pepper’s scolding. That was what startled me about this scene when I first saw it — because Pepper was the only one that spoke to him so sternly but it was unlike Tony was used to. It wasn’t scolding because of his attention-seeking behavior, it wasn’t his ego, but it was out of a real fear that she could’ve lost him. This is when you see truly that Pepper’s attachment isn’t superficial like that of the other quasi-interests he had. She actually had a concern about losing Tony, not his money or the clout, but the person. Tony knew that, which is why he just meekly responds that he would’ve told her over that jet-brunch omelette he had made for her.
When Natasha interrupts the moment between the two of them and, despite the fact Pepper is quite unglued at him out of fear and concern, Tony continues to play it careful. He understands why Pepper is upset and yet he gently tries to undercut the tension with a reminder that he had wanted to go to Venice all along. The thing of it is, one can forgive Pepper’s fear because of what Tony has just unabashedly put the woman through. Now, it’s also easy to think Tony was reckless with Pepper but really it came down to not believing or even imagining that Pepper cared to that degree until quite literally the last twenty-four hours prior. When you spend your life accusing the people you love of never loving you, never feeling true love or even understanding what the signs would look like – it’s easy to not be sure if you should take those leaps. Pepper was a leap. Tony wasn’t used to grown-up relationships with feelings and reciprocity.
Pepper was a first.
What happens from this moment on is that Pepper softens towards Tony considerably and he has no qualms with showcasing his caring for her. Pepper is not even close to a damsel in distress, mind you, but it’s not easy to guess the scenarios you would encounter as the assistant-soon-CEO next to Tony Stark’s Iron Man. If you remember the big joke in the movie Speed, it was that relationships never work when born from a traumatic experience. This isn’t true, for sure, in Marvel films and the comic books. Super people tend to always be in super circumstances and while most of those romances are between two heroes of a super nature, Tony and Pepper prove this isn’t always true. Tony has himself quite the fancy suit and that genius brain of his, but Pepper has reason and compassion that counteract Tony’s ego beautifully.
Some would say that Pepper’s power, that of a patient partner, is the true superpower between the two of them.