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Marvel Brought Iron Man Back To The MCU, But Will We See Him Again?

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Reading: Marvel Brought Iron Man Back To The MCU, But Will We See Him Again?

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was one of many candidates for “Heroic Death in Avengers: Endgame” in the months that preceded the film’s release.

We knew going into theaters that some of our beloved Avengers would do whatever it takes to beat Thanos. Some of them might die after bringing everyone back in the Infinity Saga finale. It turned out that predictions about Iron Man sacrificing his life to beat Thanos (Josh Brolin) were accurate. And as a result, the Endgame finale was heartbreakingly beautiful.

But the moment we left the theaters after our first Endgame viewings, we couldn’t help but wonder if Marvel would ever bring Iron Man back.

Was there a way to have our cake and eat it too? Could RDJ’s Iron Man return to the MCU without ruining Endgame’s legacy? It turns out that we already have an answer. Marvel brought back Tony Stark, and we nearly missed it. The jury is still out on whether Downey Jr. will return to his most iconic role to date, though. Mind you, some MCU spoilers follow below.

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Iron Man’s death is final

Unlike in Infinity War, the deaths in Endgame were final. That’s one reason why the MCU is so amazing.

Some superheroes died for good in Infinity War as well, as Thanos killed them before the blip. He sacrificed Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and killed Loki (Tom Hiddleston) early in the film. Marvel brought back both those characters in Endgame, where we saw variants from other realities. The studio did the same thing with Thanos, potentially priming the audience for Tony Stark’s inevitable return.

But Iron Man died in Endgame. It was incredibly emotional, leaving audiences in tears. One of the most important characters (and actors) in the MCU wrapped up a truly satisfying arc. The problem is that the MCU is now deprived of Iron Man, which was always one of its best defenders.

Theories about the return of Tony Stark

can doctor strange bring back iron man
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) embracing Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in an emotional scene from the climactic Avengers: Endgame final battle. Image source: Marvel Studios

We heard all sorts of rumors that Marvel wanted to bring both Iron Man and Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evans) back to the MCU. Meanwhile, both actors confirmed that they wouldn’t return to the MCU.

The interesting thing about those rumors is that there are ways to bring the dead or retired Avengers back to the MCU without ruining the Endgame finale. Iron Man’s death should not be undone. And Captain America’s retirement is well-deserved. But there are infinite Stark and Rogers variants out there.

Enter the multiverse

Loki made two things clear. First, it firmly introduced the multiverse and established the rules that govern it. Secondly, it proved that Marvel could deliver more than one fantastic arc for the same character. Hiddleston played a different Loki — a version of the beloved anti-hero that would never be explored in the movies. Then there’s Kang (Jonathan Majors) — a terrifying multi-variant villain who is just getting started. We will apparently see more of him in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

We’re going to see more variants in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 when a different Gamora will appear alongside the rest of the gang. Even better, Spider-Man: No Way Home delivers three versions of Peter Parker. Then there’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with the myriad of rumored cameos. Iron Man/Tony Stark is rumored to be one of those cameos, by the way. People have talked about whether or not Tom Cruise would make his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut as an Iron Man variant.

The massive reshoots on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness have been said to be because the plot needs work and more characters need to be added. Execs at Marvel reportedly felt the film was “too light on Easter eggs to please fans.” The cameos can be endless in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and we can’t wait.

All of these shows and movies follow Tony Stark’s death chronologically. But rumors hint that Marvel could choose a different Tony from the multiverse for future MCU crossovers.

can doctor strange bring back iron man
Iron Man showing up in What If…? trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

The massive and incredible Marvel reveal

As we learned through its run, What If…? was a multiversal story. I had speculated a little bit before the show premiered that What If…? would be that way. It was the only option, now that we’ve seen the variants in Loki. And Marvel confirmed that as well. Everything in What If…? happens in the multiverse, and it’s all connected to the MCU. And everything is canon, including any Iron Man variants.

Here’s What If…? executive producer Brad Winderbaum:

It’s no coincidence that the show picks up right after Loki. The multi-verse has erupted in every possible direction. What If…? gives us a chance to explore that. Without going into great detail, I can tell you that What If…? as a project [and] as a story that exists in the MCU is as important as any other. It’s woven into that same tapestry. So, there’s a lot of potential.

And here’s what head writer AC Bradley said in a recent interview:

The events of What If…? are canon. It’s part of the MCU multiverse. The multiverse is here. It is real, and it is absolutely fantastic, people.

This we obviously learned about in the latest Spider-Man and it’s right in the title of Doctor Strange 2. Just don’t worry about whether or not the MCU is ruined or not, because plot holes can do that. But you have to remember that Marvel always has a plan.

Iron Man is dead, but Tony Stark did come back in the MCU

It’s only once you take all of that into account that you realize Marvel brought Iron Man back to the MCU already. Our Iron Man still died, but What If…? featured a new Tony Stark. Here’s the season 1 trailer again:

In this version of events, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) saves Tony Stark. As you may remember from that episode of the series, Killmonger eventually does save him but also kills him, while subsequently taking over the role of Black Panther. What was interesting was that RDJ did not appear in the massive list of Marvel stars reprising their roles for What If…?. Mick Wingert voiced Tony Stark in four different episodes of the show. But you have to remember, the multiverse allows for a myriad of Iron Men.

Finally, there’s no indication that the Tony Stark we’ll see in What If…? will reappear in the MCU down the road. Tony Stark kept dying in What If..? in more or less every story in the MCU. That is also something we’ll need to keep an eye on as the multiverse continues to expand. Not for nothing, we wouldn’t have hated to see the continuation of the Killmonger episode to see how Pepper and Shuri handled this betrayal.

But we did get to see Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) as a central character in What If…? leading the “Guardians of the Multiverse” and that she might appear in Multiverse of Madness as well. She also could be a member of the Illuminati, which leaks have mentioned recently in connection with the second Doctor Strange film.

There is so much information out there that we aren’t sure what to believe. But some of these spoilers and leaks have panned out over the past few years, so we’re willing to take a listen. Therefore, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this Stark variant in future MCU movies and shows. After all, you can’t just introduce a random Iron Man without having bigger plans for the character now that the Sacred Timeline version is dead and buried.


More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, take a look at our ultimate Marvel guide.

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