How Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark Could Return to the MCU?
If the MCU is planning on bringing back fan-favorite heroes, it seems like there’s an extremely obvious place to start. Tony Stark was not only the first MCU hero fans got a taste of, but also one of the more consistent, appearing as a key figure in ten of the franchise’s 27 movies (eleven if you count his looming presence in Spider-Man: Far From Home).
While it may seem like a mistake to undo Stark’s death, as it helped to usher in the emotional end of The Infinity Saga, there are a few ways the character could return without undermining this important moment.
The most obvious way back for Tony Stark is through the Multiverse. As the Multiverse provides an infinite number of different versions of characters, movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could offer the opportunity for Stark to reappear.
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This could be as a wildly different incarnation of the character, like with the rumored cameo featuring Tom Cruise as Iron Man, but it may also be a version more similar to the one fans know and love. Robert Downey Jr. could easily pop in for a movie down the line in a glimpse into an alternate universe.
Many fans have savored the idea of a Multiverse-centered Avengers installment based on Marvel’s Secret Wars storyline, which could be the perfect outlet for perished iconic legacy characters like Downey Jr.’s Stark or Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff while not confirmed. The Russo Brothers have had their hands raised for years wanting to adapt such a storyline in the MCU, although there’s yet to be any confirmation from Marvel Studios to go this route.
Apart from the opportunities offered by the Multiverse, Stark could also come back in a more narratively-focused way. With upcoming series like Ironheart and Armor Wars focusing on the technologies Stark pioneered during his stint in the MCU, it’s quite possible that the armored Avenger may find his way back into the MCU sooner rather than later.
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Ironheart seems like a prime contender for an RDJ cameo. The comic book source material sees Riri Williams fight crime as a heroine alongside an AI version of Tony Stark. This would be an extremely easy way to insert a little Robert Downey Jr. back into the MCU without going as far as to wholly undo his death. Even if this AI only manifests itself via voice-over or in an extremely brief cameo, it would be quite a simple way to bring Stark back into the fold.
Armor Wars could also see a return for Downey’s Tony Stark. As the series will see Don Cheadle’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes work to recover Stark’s technology, it’s possible that Robert Downey Jr. may return in some form. Perhaps the theft of his technology will trigger some sort of hologram message from beyond the grave, or perhaps Rhodey’s reflection on Stark’s legacy will lead to a flashback featuring the Invincible Iron Man himself.
No matter if, how, or when Stark returns, No Way Home clearly helps usher in that possibility. The strides made by that film seem like key steps in changing the landscape of the MCU, creating an easy avenue for revival and showing that fans are more than happy to accept resurrections, as long as they serve the story and feel true to character.