It’s been more than three years since Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) died heroically in Avengers: Endgame. We expected that to happen before the movie premiered, just as we started wondering how Marvel would handle Iron Man’s MCU return once we witnessed his death.
We heard all sorts of rumblings about RDJ returning to the MCU, with Phase 4 providing the perfect means to pull it off. The multiversal events we’ve witnessed so far might spiral out of control to the point where we might see an Iron Man variant join or oppose the MCU’s Avengers. And it all can happen without Marvel ruining the legacy of the character.
RDJ can keep playing Iron Man without ruining the character’s tragic death in Endgame.
But there might be at least two ways to bring back the Iron Man from the primary reality in the MCU. It can happen without the multiverse and without belittling Iron Man’s sacrifice in Endgame. It’s all thanks to the events in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Before we explain, you should know big spoilers follow below.
Iron Man’s return and Love and Thunder
Love and Thunder is its own story and has nothing to do with the Avengers or Iron Man. The action happens long after Endgame and after Thor gets back in shape while working with the Guardians. But a few critical events in Love and Thunder show us how Iron Man can return to the MCU.
With that in mind, now is your chance to avoid Love and Thunder spoilers. Check out our spoiler-free Thor: Love and Thunder review instead.
Valhalla and life after death
The MCU has told us so far that death is inevitable for any sort of character. But life doesn’t stop after death. We saw a few places where the soul goes after death. Black Panther introduced the Ancestral Plane. We then saw Aaru in Moon Knight, and Love and Thunder features the first sighting of Valhalla.
The latter is important for Iron Man’s return to the MCU. Valhalla appears during the post-credits scenes of Love and Thunder. Jane (Natalie Portman) dies in the final battle, with Marvel depicting her death similarly to Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in Ragnarok.
Heimdall (Idris Elba) welcomes Jane to Valhalla, and we find out that Heimdall still knows what’s happening in the Universe, including the events in Love and Thunder.
The fact that a human ended up in Valhalla indicates that anyone worthy of such ascension might get into that realm. You don’t have to be an Asgardian or a god to get there. And there’s no question that Iron Man proved his worthiness over the years. Like Jane in Love and Thunder, Iron Man also saved Asgardians with his actions in Endgame.
Valhalla is, therefore, a way for Iron Man to return to the MCU without using the multiverse. Well, technically, Valhalla itself must be some sort of a different dimension where the souls of the dead reside.
But if Iron Man reached a version of Valhalla, he could be summoned back to life without ruining the events in Endgame. That’s assuming resurrection from Valhalla is possible in the MCU. Then again, Moon Knight shows that resurrection from Aaru can happen.
Eternity is the better option
Even so, we’re never told what happens to Iron Man after his death. There’s also one more puzzling detail about Valhalla. Thor says that only warriors who die in battle go to Valhalla.
We see that happen with Jane. But Odin died peacefully on Earth in Ragnarok. Yet the animation of his death is similar to Jane’s, indicating he might have reached Valhalla as well. Put differently, Iron Man’s body doesn’t turn into magical dust at the end of Endgame.
We have yet to see whether Marvel will want to pull anyone back from Valhalla in the future. But if it does, it’ll better have an excellent explanation for why some resurrections are possible via that plane of existence.
Marvel can have Iron Man return to the MCU with the help of a more powerful god-like entity. We met Eternity in Love and Thunder, with Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) winning access to it. The deity granted Gorr’s wish too. The Thor 4 villain asked for his daughter Love to be resurrected.
Love is now back, wielding some of Eternity’s power and using Thor’s Stormbreaker to help those in distress.
What if someone else reached Eternity? Someone like Morgan, Tony Stark’s daughter. Or anyone else in the MCU who feels like Iron Man’s return is the only thing that would help them fight off impending doom.
Eternity is another viable way to bring Iron Man back without belittling his sacrifice in Endgame. That assumes Eternity has any wishes left to grant now that Gorr reached it first.
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