Iron Man’s New Gorilla Nemesis Proves His Villain Problem Can Be Solved

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Warning: Contains spoilers for Iron Man #20!

The introduction of a new, unlikely retribution for Iron Man has just proved that the traditional “villain problem” of the hero can indeed be solved with enough creativity. The lack of impressive, memorable Iron Man villains has haunted the character for a very long time, but the Iron Man creative team demonstrates that this problem can be solved if you think outside the box.

Despite the resounding success of the MCU version of the character, which became famous thanks to the cult interpretation of Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man has traditionally not been a hero of the first magnitude. Some critics point out that, despite the attractiveness of the character, Tony Stark lacks memorable villains. Every hero needs a sworn enemy with whom he could shine and compare his worth, for example, Doctor Doom for the Fantastic Four or the Red Skull for Captain America. The most likely candidate for this role from Iron Man is a Mandarin, but since the alien-powered warlord is currently missing (even though his trademark Ten Rings have recently reappeared), Tony needs someone who can step up and become his nemesis. However, few expected it to be an angry gorilla.

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In “Iron Man” #20 by Christopher Cantwell, Angel Uzueta and Frank D’Armata, readers are introduced to the gorilla Chet, the result of ESU’s “advanced zoological cognition program”—in fact, an intelligent gorilla that Tony wants to use to demonstrate the quality of his new AI in the game of chess. However, Chet aspires to get a job as a consultant at Stark Unlimited, and he does not like Tony’s dismissive attitude and the fact that he is losing the game. The result is a surreal fight between Iron Man and Gorilla on the streets of New York, and all the while Chet throws well-worded insults at his opponent, complaining about the disrespect shown by this “rich man”. It was not just a funny, but an amazing release of “Iron Man”, and all thanks to Chet.

In the previous story arc, Tony had to deal with a much more formidable villain, Korvak, who controlled the Cosmic Force and became a god, which forced Iron Man to do the same. However, Korvak is not an “Iron Man villain”, but one of the Avengers, and he is also too powerful to pose a reasonable constant threat to Tony. However, the positive reaction of fans to Chet shows that the “villain problem” of Iron Man can be solved if you think outside the box. Villains don’t have to be too serious to be remembered. Doctor Doom, arguably Marvel’s greatest villain, is known for his aloofness, arrogance and flamboyant speeches that make him look ridiculous, but at the same time, undoubtedly amazing. This is very similar to Chet’s attitude and behavior. In any other context, a gorilla riding a Vespa and shouting “Come on, charlatan!” wouldn’t make sense, but these are superhero comics, an environment that doesn’t necessarily have to take itself seriously to tell great stories.

The creators have been trying for years to solve Iron Man’s “villain problem” by giving him new villains in armor and new personal connections with big villains. However, Chet shows that imagination and a whimsical willingness to go beyond the possible can be much more exciting than constantly updating what already exists. The Iron Man villain problem can be solved not by improving the armor of his old villains, but by experimenting with what fans expect to see in his comic adventures, and Chet’s incredibly enjoyable Gorilla debut proves it.