Last week I took a look at Captain America and proposed two possible theories discussing what may happen to the first Avenger and today I plan on continuing to theorize but this time about Iron Man. That’s right, the man that started it all. As most of you know, without the success of Iron Man the MCU would have never gotten off the ground and it’s because of this importance to the franchise that such delicate care needs to go into what I and many believe will be his final goodbye.
Before I continue on, I do think it’s important that I mention that this week I plan on talking about some of the leaked set photos from Avengers Endgame to set the stage for this discussion. Honestly, I feel that it’s necessary because, without them, I think it would be impossible to even guess at what Iron Man’s role would be in this film. So with all of that being said, if you don’t want to know about anything that isn’t official stop here… but come back next Monday and check out my next Theory article where I talk about Black Panther.
To start things off let’s get into what we know about Tony’s current predicament. According to the first Endgame trailer, Tony and we assume Nebula are stranded on The Guardian of The Galaxy’s ship, The Benatar. And with the ship’s food and water supply completely out, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Tony meets his end. So how exactly does he come out on top here?
Well, let’s take our first look at one of this leaked set photos.
It’s here in this picture that we see Pepper Pots dressed in what appears to be The Rescue armor. There are several directions to run with this but I think there’s really only two.
There’s the possibility that this is what Pepper is wearing when she and Rocket find the Benatar. And while I’m sure you’re thinking the idea of Pepper Pots and Rocket Raccoon journeying through Space to find the ship sounds ridiculous, it’s important to keep in mind that Rocket would probably have some sort of device that would allow him to locate the ship and even though they wouldn’t know that Tony would necessarily be on the ship, between both Pepper and Rocket they’re aware that both of their loved ones last whereabouts involve Thanos. So if you’re as desperate as Pepper is to find Tony, getting on a ship with a talking raccoon with the hopes of finding the man you love seems plausible.
The reason I don’t think this theory holds much water though is that it honestly seems like too much of a perfect moment, at least for Pepper… all of Rocket’s friends are dead. Oh god, could you imagine that moment? Pepper and Tony are in full embrace, meanwhile, Rocket has to hear from Nebula of all people that she’s the only one that survived. Now that I lay it out, maybe that could happen, but I still stand by that it’s too much of a coincidence.
So what is the reason for Pepper being in the suit? Well, if you remember from my last article I talked about the Avengers bouncing back and forth through time trying to fix things but as a result, they only make things worse and completely destroy the timeline that they once knew. It’s here in one of these brief moments that I believe we’ll see Pepper all decked out in armor, saving the day in a future that was never meant to exist. Ultimately, more of a sight gag than anything.
So how exactly does Tony survive being lost in space? Honestly I think it could go one of three ways: The remaining Asgardians who are still floating out in space, someone associated with The Guardians, keep in mind that Endgame takes place 4 years since Guardians 2 and there’s honestly no telling how many people are out looking for that ship, and then of course there’s always the random planet that the ship could stumble across, though that’s not really how space works. So while I think it would be great to see Sylvester Stallone and his crew find Tony Stark, I think the remaining Asgardians are a safe bet. How else would we get Thor reunited with his people? Two birds, one bush. That’s how I look at it.
No matter how Tony’s rescue happens, we know he’s getting back to Earth so the next big question is what does he do when gets back to Earth? This is the part where I get to resort back to my time travel is hard slogan that I’ve been throwing around for 3 weeks. Looking at more set photos, we see something that is simply unanswerable because as I’ve stated already we still haven’t had Marvel’s version of time travel explained to us. Knowing the question is unanswerable doesn’t mean that we still shouldn’t ask it.
So… why is Captain America wearing his old suit from Avengers One and why does Tony Stark appear to have graying hair, and why does Ant-Man look the same as he did the last time we saw him?!?!
While there has been a lot of discussion on what this image means for the movie, I think there are only a few logical explanations. There is even more of a significant time jump than we were expecting to result in Tony simply being older by the time he’s arrived on Earth. But what about Cap and Ant-Man? Well, while Cap may technically be the oldest out of all of them, in reality, he’s one of the youngest. At the oldest, Cap is in his 30’s during Infinity War so even if there’s a jump forward in time, he’d still only be in his 40s. As for the suit, that’s a topic for a different article. When it comes to Ant-Man, there’s a lot to question. One, as I’ve said numerous times, we don’t know how time travel works in this universe, but at this point I can only assume that Ant-Man looks the same while Tony looks different is because Ant-Man is the time traveler and has gone into the future to bring back an older Tony Stark who has been on Earth for the last several years working on a plan.
The other possibility is that every time they jump, because Tony isn’t a super soldier like Cap and doesn’t have a super suit like Ant-Man that every time the heroes jump, it’s taxing his body and either aging him or just sapping his energy to the point where his physical appearance is starting to change. Either way, if one of these two theories is even close to correct we’ll be dealing with an altered Tony who isn’t going to be able to handle the kind of damage he’s taken in the past and with a final battle with Thanos looming, that’s not great.
Speaking of Thanos, that leads us to the biggest question possible for Tony Stark, what happens to Iron Man at the end of Avengers Endgame? I’ve got bad new folks. This is the last time we’re going to see Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. That’s right! Two articles in and I’ve already sentenced two of the original Avengers to death. So how exactly do I think Tony Stark meets his end? Well, unlike Captain America where I thought there were two (really three) potential scenarios that could play out during his finale, I only have one for Iron Man.
If Ant-Man does, in fact, travel forward in time (the theory that I think is most plausible) to retrieve an older Tony Stark, I believe this is where we’ll see Tony reveal his latest and final suit. A suit capable of containing the infinity stones. And once Tony and crew have collected the stones, whether that’s through traveling into the past (most likely) or through some other means, Tony will make the selfless choice of sacrificing himself. Because while his suit is strong enough to contain the stones, using them will be too much for both the suit and him. In Tony’s final scene, to mirror what happened with Thanos when he used the stones, I believe Tony will come face to face with Peter Parker and Pete will say, “You did it, but what did you have to give up.” Tony will say everything and with tears running down everyone’s face, Tony will say goodbye to Spider-Man as Spidey now finds himself in a universe that has been saved by Iron Man. What does that world look like? What do I look like, Kevin Feige? I’m making this stuff up as I go.
But with that, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s theory. I can’t wait for next week when I attempt to explain how Black Panther 2 answers a lot of our time travel questions. And as always, if you’ve managed to come across these silly articles, leave a comment down below not only letting me know what you think about my theories but letting me know what your’s are as well.