Anthony Breznican
November 30, 2012 AT 06:31 PM EST

It’s a common theme for superheroes to stand for more than just their own powers.

In the DC universe, Superman is famously synonymous with “truth, justice, and the American way,” while Batman is a darker symbol of vigilante justice, inspiring citizens to resist the things they fear the most.

In Marvel’s realm, Spider-Man stands for every puny kid who ever got pushed around, and learned how to use brains as well as brawn, the Hulk is the anger inside all of us, fighting to get out, if only we can channel it for good. Wolverine is the rebel without a cause, looking for something he cares enough about to fight for.

But what does Iron Man stand for?

In The Avengers, Steve Rogers challenged Tony Stark’s identity, too. “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away then what are you?”

To which Stark playfully replied: “Uhh … Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist.”

It’s a good line. Who wouldn’t want to be those things. But let’s face it, all four are kind of … easy.

Genius — that’s innate. Billionaire — that’s inherited. Playboy — ask Hugh Hefner how hard that lifestyle is. And philanthropist? It’s not hard to give when you have more than you could ever want.

Stark proved by the end of The Avengers just how far he was willing to go to sacrifice for the greater good, but each movie is kind of another step for this hero, who evolves more than most of them.

NEXT PAGE:  Robert Downey Jr. on where he thinks Iron Man goes from here …

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