- Marvel movies and TV series will never be the same without Iron Man, who sacrificed his life in an iconic scene at the end of Endgame to save everyone else.
- But some rumors claimed that Marvel and Robert Downey Jr. may be working on an Iron Man return to life and the Avengers.
- There are ways to bring back the superhero without ruining Endgame, and the storyline that starts with MCU Phase 4 may make it all possible.
Iron Man is one of the three original Avengers who was retired in Endgame, although the word “retired” doesn’t do justice to the character’s arc. Tony Stark finally made the sacrificial play, he went for the ultimate save that would ensure everyone he loved would survive the biggest conflict the planet had ever seen. And he died soon after snapping his fingers. That’s what’s great about the way the Infinity Saga concluded. Infinity War and Endgame aren’t your regular movies where all the characters you love make it alive by the end while defeating all the bad guys. Like in real life, sacrifices have to be made, and heroes died. Black Widow also died, and Captain America actually retired to a different world. That’s the sacrifice the Avengers made to beat Thanos for good.
With that in mind, I often argued that having any of these heroes brought back to the main MCU universe in the future would ruin the Endgame legacy. However, there is a marvelous way to have these heroes return to the main reality in a post-Endgame future without actually robbing them of the heroics in the last Avengers installment. And if there’s one hero that most fans want back, that’s Iron Man.
There’s been increasing talk lately that Marvel and Robert Downey Jr. are working on bringing Iron Man back. Nothing is official, of course, and we’re yet to see any credible rumor from the usual insiders.
Everyone has ideas to resurrect Tony Stark, and Joe Rogan proposed one in an interview with RDJ. The Avengers would simply need Iron Man back, and they’d just set in motion that time machine and get him from somewhere.
If anything, Marvel has already prepared us for an MCU where the characters we love aren’t exactly the characters we love. The Loki that will appear in Loki is not our Loki. It’s the Loki from 2012 who was able to escape the Avenges after getting a hold of the Space Stone. Everything that the original Loki did to redeem himself from that moment until Thanos killed him has been erased. We’ll now witness a different Loki that will somehow land in the MCU.
The new Gamora is a 2014 version of the beloved Guardian, one that hasn’t fallen in love with Quinn yet. Thanos killed Gamora in Infinity War to get the Soul Stone. She wouldn’t have been brought back once Hulk snapped his fingers in Endgame because her death is part of a transaction that can’t be undone. It’s a soul for a soul, like Natasha. Therefore, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will show us a different Gamora.
Endgame also brought us the second version of Thanos, the one who came from the 2014 reality, and who was ultimately turned to ashes on Earth. The same goes for the 2014 Nebula, who infiltrated the Avengers to bring her father through the time machine.
Let’s not forget that even Steve Rogers has retired to 1948 in an alternate reality where he already exists. The original version of him is sleeping under the ice and will continue to do it for several decades.
Add to that the shape-shifting Skrulls that can turn into anyone, and you start realizing that Marvel is slowly training the audience to deal with a universe where not everything is what it seems to be. Or better said, some of our favorite heroes are not actually the characters we fell in love with. They just look like the originals. The new Loki and Gamora are the best examples of that.
This prelude brings us to CBR’s YouTube video at the end of this post that explains how Iron Man could return to the MCU. As you might suspect by now, the only way to bring Tony Stark back and keep the Endgame story intact is by having RDJ play a different version of Iron Man. But this Iron Man wouldn’t come from the past in the way that Rogan suggested.
Instead, Iron Man would be reunited with the Avengers via the Secret Wars storyline. A different version of Stark would find himself having to either join the Avengers of the main MCU timeline in the fight of their lives. Or, better yet, this alternate Iron Man could be one of the villains that our Avengers would have to overcome in one of the future key movies of the upcoming MCU Phases.
What’s really great about all of this is that it would work perfectly. RDJ would be given a new blueprint for this Stark character variation. He’d still deliver much of the Tony we’ve grown to love in his interactions with the Avengers. But whether he’d be a friend or a foe, this one would be a much different Tony, and Marvel could take the character on a much different arc.
Even so, what seems to be clear is that whatever version of Tony Stark would return to the MCU, he can’t be a central part of the main MCU story. Even if he’s different, Iron Man can’t be the main Avenger, and it’s because of what happened in Endgame. It’s clear that Marvel wants to explore other characters, and we have plenty of superheroes that we haven’t even seen. No matter how brilliant the script to bring Tony back might be, he’s still part of the old guard that’s currently being replaced.
Marvel could pull a similar move with other characters that are now gone, including Black Widow, Captain America, and anyone else who might have vanished recently. That’s why the Secret Wars storyline is so exciting. We’ll have to wait for Phase 4 to get underway to see which way the story is going. Meanwhile, CBR offers a great recap of the Secret Wars story and provides examples of alternate Iron Men that can rejoin the Avengers.