With every new Marvel TV show and movie, we get closer to the endgame. Multiverse Saga. We’re using “close” loosely here, because we’ve still got three more years of MCU adventures before we get to that huge Secret Wars movie. While Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is dead, the MCU’s Phase 4 has already given us 6 different ways for Tony Stark to come back to life. And anything is possible without ruining the character’s legacy from the infinity saga or his sacrifice in End of Game.
Before I explain further, you should know that massive spoilers of the latest MCU Phase 4 movies and TV series will follow below.
She-Hulk is the latest Marvel adventure, and the first episode was easily one of the strongest openings for an MCU Disney Plus show. The main story of the series is unclear and the visual effects are not perfect. But Episode 1 gives Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) a strong start while also providing audiences with plenty of exciting Easter eggs.
Iron Man may be dead, but Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) references his friend more than once during the episode. Banner is still in pain and it’s been almost two years since Tony died. These heartbreaking moments remind us how much Tony Stark meant to everyone.
Incidentally, there’s a similar mention of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). And Marvel can also bring Natasha back just like Iron Man, by the way. But considering how Disney treated Johansson after the release of Black Widowthat seems unlikely.
In what follows, we’ll explore how RDJ can return to the MCU soon. Maybe in time for an important Secret Wars appearance. And anything can happen without minimizing his sacrifice in End of Game.
Flashbacks and prequels are expensive options
This one is the easiest way to accomplish a soft Iron Man comeback. All we need is a Marvel movie or TV show that requires some sort of Iron Man presence. It can be a prequel, where the action takes place in the past. Or we could have flashbacks to the pre-Endgame days when Iron Man was still alive.
This wouldn’t necessarily count as Iron Man’s return to the MCU. The character would not appear in the current timeline. And that’s not exactly how we want to see Tony Stark again.
Not to mention that flashbacks and prequels are expensive to make, amazing as they are.
Alternate Iron Man Variants of the Multiverse
The Multiverse is the obvious source for another Iron Man that RDJ could play. We’ve been speculating about this kind of “return” before we even started seriously experimenting with Marvel’s MCU multiverse. Let’s not forget that we’ve already seen a few character variants appear in the MCU.
The 2014-Thanos (Josh Brolin) is one. Then there’s the current Gamora (Zoe Saldana), hailing from the same universe. Finally, we have the Loki (Tom Hiddleston) variant of the Loki TV show.
Before Multiverse of Madness, we’ve seen plenty of rumors that Tom Cruise might be playing a different Iron Man from the Illuminati universe. It never happened. But we know afterwards doctor strange 2, Earth-838 has taken a huge superhero hit.
The Illuminati departed from this world, dead at the hands of a powerful Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). Not only that, but there’s a foray ahead.
As far as we know, Earth-838 and Earth-616 could be on a collision course. And Tony Stark of Earth-838 will definitely want some kind of revenge. This would still count as a comeback even if it’s not RDJ playing this Iron Man.
On the same note, What if…? is also a source for alternate Iron Man stories. And they could count as Tony Stark returning to the MCU, especially if Marvel asks RDJ to voice an animated Iron Man.
Fake Iron Man Options
We could also bring a fake Iron Man back to the MCU via a different route. The Secret Invasion A TV show will tell us that some superheroes might be bad Skrulls. How crazy would it be if the deceased Tony Stark was actually a Skrull in disguise?
In this case, Tony Stark would be a prisoner somewhere in the universe. However, this option obviously ruins Stark’s sacrifice in End of Game. And the whole storyline is kind of a plot. A dead Skrull would revert to its natural appearance.
On the same note, some Skrulls might still be impersonating Tony Stark after his death in End of Game. Just to play with the Avengers and the world. After all, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) convinced a lot of people that he was a superhero. Why couldn’t a Skrull do the same by impersonating Iron Man?
Certainly, we would have to see an evil variant of Iron Man in this case. But it’s also an exciting proposition. And, remember, the multiverse can also spawn the wrong Tony Starks.
Life after death in the MCU
Things get more interesting if you exclude the multiverse. Or at least the physical multiverse. As we explained later love and thundernew Thor the film exacerbates Marvel’s religious problem.
We have all kinds of gods in the MCU, with varying degrees of power. And we have different afterlife experiences.
Some of them might offer the possibility of resurrection. We have seen this happen in Moon Knight already. And Valhalla can practically give us a way to resurrect dead characters like Heimdall (Idris Elba), Jane (Natalie Portman), and MCU principal Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
With that in mind, we have to assume that Tony Stark also went to an afterlife dimension. Maybe he’s also in Valhalla, killed in battle like Jane. And that sets the stage for a surprising return of Iron Man to the MCU via resurrection.
Divine Celestial Intervention Can Resurrect Iron Man
But what if we bring a little science to the very idea of bringing Iron Man back to the MCU? What if these dimensions of life after death could be explained by advanced science?
Maybe the souls that experience places like Valhalla are stored in some type of repository. If you saw Eternals, you already know where I’m going with this one. The Celestials who created the Eternals “backed up” their memory banks. And they can make as many additional copies as they need to meet their needs.
That’s why Ikaris (Richard Madden) isn’t really dead. He was just one of the clones who failed in their mission. Arishem (David Kaye) can always make another using older memory.
That is, let’s say Tony Stark somehow retained his consciousness via a secret project that we have yet to discover. His whole personality could be stored there until the events of End of Game. Like an iPhone backup. Arishem would have the technology to not only clone Stark, but to give him the exact personality we’re used to from the MCU.
This kind of Iron Man return would allow Tony to join the Avengers in time for a massive fight. Perhaps the threat of Kang (Jonathan Majors) would scare even the Celestials. And Arishem, knowing what the Avengers can do with Iron Man’s help, could still revive the character so he can take on Kang.
The special wishes of eternity
The Celestials aren’t the only MCU characters who might have the power to bring Iron Man back to life. We just met Eternity in love and thunder. He’s such a powerful character that he managed to give Gorr the Butcher God (Christian Bale) his daughter back. She died early in Thor 4setting off the chain of events that led us to Eternity.
The problem is that Eternity will only grant one wish. And no one can use it to resurrect Tony Stark. But Eternity might decide that, of all the beings in the primary MCU universe, he needs Iron Man to come back to life.
More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, visit our Marvel guide.