One of the reasons Avengers: Endgame is so much better than most superhero movies is the way the movie ends. Not all the good guys get to live after beating the bad guys, and the world isn’t necessarily in better shape now that 3.5 billion dead souls came back to life. The sacrifices made in order to beat Thanos are very real for the characters and for the audience. We all lost, to paraphrase Cap’s memorable speech in Endgame. We lost Nat, Tony, and Steve, and the Avengers now need to rebuild.
Yes, there’s a Black Widow movie set to premiere in about three months that will give us plenty of Nat action and maybe even a Stark cameo, but that’s all we’re going to get for a while. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans have ended their contracts with Marvel, and they’ve been both pretty clear that they’re not going to return to their Iron Man and Captain America roles, though both of them left a door open. It turns out there’s a brilliant detail in Endgame that would let both of them return to the Avengers in the future, and it wouldn’t even ruin Endgame.
The absolute worst thing about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is Palpatine’s return. We get no real explanation for it, and the film’s entire plot is ruined by it. Resurrecting Iron Man and Captain America shouldn’t be done the same way because it would rob us of Endgame’s magic. It’s definitely something I wouldn’t want to see, no matter how much fun Iron Man is.
What if it was all done in a much smarter way? Marvel placed a smart plot twist in Endgame that doesn’t only help move the main storyline forward, it also allows the studio to resurrect Tony without too much hassle — if that’s something Marvel wants to do.
Marvel “resurrected” two dead heroes in Endgame, including Loki and Gamora, who both died in Infinity War. Their deaths occurred before the snap, which means they should be permanent. And they are, but Marvel put a huge spin on them. The Loki and Gamora from the main MCU timeline might be dead, but our heroes will still interact with versions of these characters from other timelines. 2014 Gamora is stuck in the MCU’s present (2023), while 2012 Loki created an alternate timeline when he stole the Tesseract, and he’s already confirmed to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This is the trick that could let Marvel resurrect Iron Man and Captain America without destroying Endgame’s legacy.
Joe Rogan offered this scenario to Downey in an interview on his podcast. Rogan asked RDJ whether he’d reprise his Iron Man role in the future, after a few years. Downey made the same point, that bringing back Iron Man might ruin Endgame. “If I pick the jersey up and put it on again, wouldn’t you feel a little bit like ‘Oh, crap!’?”
Rogan replied that after a few semi-lackluster Avengers movies, Marvel might call upon Iron Man to save the day. “Here’s the scene,” Rogan said. “There’s a moment where the world’s fate is at stake, and they’ve realized they need a super genius, and they figure out how to restart the time machine.”
Given how time travel works in the MCU, whatever version of Iron Man the Avengers would bring back to the post-2023 future would be a different Tony Stark. It wouldn’t be our Iron Man, but Downey’s style and charisma could return to the MCU.
I did say before that alternate Loki and Gamora serve a different purpose. They firmly establish the idea that alternate versions of the universe exist and that characters can travel between them with the help of special technology. This could set up future crossovers and storylines where the Avengers would have to face alternate versions of themselves. With that in mind, what if an alternate Iron Man somehow ends up to be a villain in the main MCU timeline? After all, we do have rumors that say some of the dead Avengers will be brought back to life in future MCU films.
The actor did respond to Rogan’s challenge by saying that “starting up again is off the table.”
“I feel I’ve done all I could with that character. There’d have to be a super compelling argument and a series of events that made it obvious,” Downey added. That’s the kind of “never say never” statement that we’ve seen recently from Chris Evans as well, and it obviously leaves the door open for a potential return.
Rogan’s full interview with Downey Jr. follows below: