Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) died during the incredible final battle in Avengers: Endgame, saving everyone just as we hoped he would. And Marvel broke the hearts of millions of MCU fans who became enamored with this universe in large part due to RDJ’s Tony Stark. But as we got over this unexpected grief, we all realized that Iron Man’s MCU return isn’t only possible, it might be certain.
The only problem with Iron Man’s return to the MCU is that Marvel had to give us a reasonable explanation for Stark’s reappearance. One that would not diminish his sacrifice in Endgame or ruin that legacy.
As the MCU Phase 4 storyline advanced, we got a better idea of where we were heading. And Marvel just confirmed that we’re on the path we thought we were on. Moreover, we realized there are multiple ways for Marvel to bring back Iron Man while keeping that Endgame finale untarnished. And now a leaker claims they know exactly when Iron Man will return.
Warning: Massive spoilers might follow below.
How Iron Man returns to the MCU
The multiverse angle is exactly what we need in order for Iron Man to return. That and a boatload of cash in RDJ’s bank account, of course.
The multiverse lets Marvel deliver any Iron Man variant, regardless of whether RDJ will play the role. After all, we do have rumors that a Tom Cruise version of Iron Man might swoop in from somewhere in the multiverse.
Also, the Tony Stark variants that Marvel might employ in future adventures do not have to be identical to the Iron Man from the MCU. Marvel has already successfully experimented with the idea, and it worked brilliantly. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) died in Infinity War. But the Loki variant from the TV show of the same name is almost identical. He actually made us forget that he’s not the MCU’s main Loki.
The same thing will happen with the new Gamora (Zoe Saldana) from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The original variant also died in Infinity War.
But, as I explained before, we’ve seen enough of Phase 5 to realize there are other ways to bring Iron Man back to the MCU. The Iron Man. Not even resurrection is off the table.
When will Tony Stark return to the MCU?
Any Iron Man from the multiverse would work. We’d take it as a win. And this variant could play very well with the MCU’s primary Avengers. But to have the original Tony come back to help save the day again from beyond the grave would be incredible.
It turns out there is a way to do it. Some powerful being could snap the MCU’s Iron Man from his timeline before his death, to a different place in the future. That way, he can help the Avengers of the post-Endgame reality. Maybe the Avengers can even pull it off themselves. With no TVA to control the Sacred Timeline, this would be possible. Then Iron Man might return to his timeline later, where he’d eventually die.
Remember that Tony had a peculiar line in Endgame when an alternate Thanos (Josh Brolin) blew up the Avengers HQ. “When you mess with time, it tends to mess back,” he said ominously.
It’s as if he knew more than Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) about time travel. Then again, he is in a position to know more about time travel than the others. Or to accurately speculate that there is more than one timeline.
What I’m getting at is that the Avengers might need their Iron Main in Secret Wars. They might get him before the events in Endgame play out, only to put him back once their fight against Kang (Jonathan Majors) is done. This was one of my lingering feelings about Iron Man’s return.
Why a return for Avengers: Secret Wars makes sense
As you can see in the tweet above, there is one Marvel insider who claims just that. Marvel will bring back Iron Man to the MCU for Avengers: Secret Wars.
The movie premieres in May 2026. There’s plenty of time to make it happen. Even if the rumor above isn’t accurate, Secret Wars will be the kind of massive Marvel event that would benefit immensely from Iron Man’s return.
By the way, I’ve already explained why Kang arranged the Sacred Timeline in this particular order and why he needed the Avengers to lose to Thanos, wait for five years, and then prevail.
Despite what Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) saw, the Avengers were always going to win. Among other things, Kang needed Tony Stark to set up the basis of “time travel,” which is actually a way to travel between realities. It’s the technology that will evolve into the portals Kang uses.
With all that in mind, Iron Man’s wits, brains, and armor can certainly come in handy one more time. And a return for MCU’s big Secret Wars movie makes perfect sense.
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