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Iron Man might return to the MCU, but not the way you think

Published Dec 31st, 2020 10:33AM EST
Iron Man Return
Image: Marvel Studios

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  • Iron Man died heroically in one of the most heartbreaking scenes of Avengers: Endgame, leaving fans saddened to see one of their favorite heroes perish.
  • An increasing number of rumors claimed that Marvel is looking to bring Robert Downey Jr. back to the MCU for different projects that might feature Tony Stark without ruining Endgame’s legacy.
  • The newest leak along those lines says RDJ is negotiating an appearance in a recently announced Disney+ TV series that will desperately need an Iron Man appearance.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man got the perfect exit in Avengers: Endgame, but it was also the most heartbreaking moment in the movie. The superhero who wasn’t ready to make the sacrificial play to save everyone else in the early days of the Avengers finally got there. He gave up his life to pull off the one trick that could save everyone else, putting an end to the demons that have haunted him ever since becoming one of the planet’s main defenders. Iron Man also happened to be at the top of the list of characters who were rumored to perish in Endgame ahead of the film’s release. Infinity War made it crystal clear that the stakes would be huge, and this wasn’t going to be a superhero film with a perfectly happy ending. Endgame had many leading heroes, and not all of them lived to fight another day. Some died, one retired — and even more heroes will leave the Avengers team soon.

While 2020’s miserable pandemic ruined everything about daily life while also robbing fans of all Marvel content, we did have several exciting rumors about the MCU’s future. Unsurprisingly, many of them were about RDJ’s return as Tony Stark in future MCU installments. And many of them proposed ways of reviving Iron Man without actually ruining Endgame’s legacy. RDJ has denied reports that he’ll return to the MCU in the future, but a well-known insider says the actor is already negotiating his return with Marvel. And the best part is the fact that Iron Man’s return wouldn’t mean undoing the heart-wrenching climax of Endgame.

Among the recent rumors that Tony Stark will return to the MCU, we have a story that says Marvel’s unannounced Illuminati will bring Stark back. We also explained that Marvel could treat fans to a different version of Tony Stark, who would hail from a different reality of the multiverse. On top of that, there were also rumors that Iron Man will have a cameo in Ironheart, which wasn’t even announced at the time.

However, Disney held its annual Investor Day event a few weeks ago, dedicating the final segment of the presentation to all the upcoming MCU Phase 4 projects. Kevin Feige took the stage to take the wraps off of various MCU secrets. Marvel showed fans more trailers from upcoming Disney+ TV shows, revealed tentative launch dates for various projects, and confirmed several casting rumors for upcoming superheroes and villains. Feige also announced that an Ironheart TV series is in the works. On top of all that, Feige announced that Don Cheadle is getting his own Disney+ TV series, Armor Wars. RDJ’s name did not come up directly, but Tony Stark was clearly referenced in the announcement.

Both these TV shows could benefit from Stark’s presence, which could come in the form of cameos occurring in the past, long before the events that led to his ultimate demise in Endgame.

Longtime Marvel leaker Daniel Richtman says that RDJ is in talks for either a cameo in Armor Wars in a flashback, or to make an AI appearance.

Flashbacks featuring RDJ and any other dead or retired Avengers will always make sense in the MCU, considering the ways Marvel’s tells its stories. It’s not a linear approach, as Marvel combines prequels and flashbacks with adventures happening in the present so it can craft a complex main storyline.

The AI part is all the more interesting possibility, and some speculated that Tony could have created an AI version of himself to leave behind for others. This would allow RDJ to continue to voice Stark in the MCU for some time to come. Stark’s AI could even power an autonomous Iron Man suit, though that might spoil his MCU legacy a bit by cheapening his death.

Richtman’s rumor might be exciting, but it’s still just a rumor. We have a long way to go until Armor Wars premieres, so there’s plenty of time to see more leaks before then.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.