As many of you know, I’m a big fan of using fictional characters to illustrate how Myers-Briggs® types work. I’ve written about Captain America as an ISFJ and about Loki’s more controversial personality (which I identify as INFJ), so I thought we’d continue with that series by talking about one of the most beloved and recognizable characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I’ve seen Iron Man from the comics typed as an ENTJ or ESTP, but most people agree that in the Tony Stark portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is an ENTP. David Keirsey called this type “The Inventor.” While I often think Keirsey’s type descriptions are too stereotypical, it does fit Tony Stark.
It is so natural for ENTPs to practice devising ingenious gadgets and mechanisms that they start doing it even as young children. And these Inventors get such a kick out of it that they really never stop exercising their inventive talent, though in the workplace they will turn their technological ingenuity to many kinds of systems, social as well as physical and mechanical.David Keirsey
The Personality Hacker video that you can watch if you click this link is a pretty good overview for the type. ENTPs lead with a process called Extroverted Intuition (“Exploration” in Personality Hacker’s system). It’s supported by Introverted Thinking (also called “Accuracy”). Their tertiary function is Extroverted Feeling (“Harmony”), and their least developed function is Introverted Sensing (“Memory”). We can see this in Tony Stark’s character throughout the MCU movies.
I really love Personality Hacker’s nicknames for the cognitive functions. Antonia Dodge writes that the reason they chose “Exploration” as the name for Extroverted Intuition was because “the best pattern recognition system for the outer world is to mess with everything that can be messed with, and to explore, explore, explore.” Types who use Extroverted Intuition easily bounce from one idea to the next, often out-loud, as they sort through and experiment with different possibilities. This doesn’t mean they can’t focus. They just need to find something that captures their attention. Once they have something to focus on, it can consume them (at least until they understand it well enough to lose interest and move on to the next challenge).
This is where their secondary function, Introverted Thinking, comes in. An ENTP’s Intuition is focused outward gathering information and sorting through data. When they need to think deeply about something, their inward-focused decision-making process comes into play. For ENTPs, this process is concerned with “Accuracy.” Antonia Dodge says the ultimate goal of a type using Accuracy is “information purified from incongruities, inconsistencies and biases which produce clean concepts and an understanding of how things work.”
Dr. A. J. Drenth in his profile of an ENTP and Isabel Meyer in her book Gifts Differing both mention several defining characteristics of the ENTP personality type. Let’s look at a few.
- “Despite their tendency toward restlessness and distractibility, ENTPs can focus when partaking in stimulating discussions or activities” (Drenth). Just witness how focused Tony can be when speaking with Bruce Banner (discussions) or while alone in his private workshop (activities).
- “ENTPs may not always seem to ‘have a point,’ quickly bouncing from one idea to the next” (Drenth). Tony’s conversation with the other Avengers on the hellicarrier after they catch Loki lasts less than two minuets and the conversation bounces around like this:
- Begins explanation of Loki’s plan
- Takes a verbal jab at Thor
- Continues explanation of portals
- Notices and comments on the man playing Galaga
- Questions the design of Fury’s command center
- More on Loki’s plan, while planting a decryption program
- Explains his new expertise in thermonuclear physics
- Introduces himself to Bruce Banner and admires his scientific work and Hulk side
- “They are more apt to consider how others may affect their projects than how their projects may affect others” (Meyer). Extroverted Feeling — the function ENTPs use to connect with people, is third on their function stack. They use it rather well to read people and manipulate them (Isabel Meyer says, “They enjoy from the cradle a remarkable ability to get what they want”), but people are not the first thing on their priority list. Even in Age of Ultron, where Tony creates Ultron to try and avoid a future where he causes his friend’s deaths, his first focus is on the project, not on how others will react.
- “ENTPs scoff at what they see as unnecessary or overly rigid rules, regulations, or procedures” (Drenth). This is the source of much of Tony’s conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D and with Steve Rodgers (interestingly, ISFJs and ENTPs are exact opposites in their function stacks, and can easily act as stressors for one another).
- When stressed, Naomi Quenk says ENTPs’ inferior function shows up in the form of “withdrawal and depression,” “obsessiveness” and “focus on the body” (i.e. “exaggerated concern about physical ‘symptoms'” of a real or imagined disease). Just watch Iron Man 3.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other MCU typings: