Feige won’t bring back MCU’s main Iron Man after his Endgame sacrifice, but a variant could still allow RDJ to return without undoing his death.
The MCU’s use of alternate reality variants opens the door for Iron Man’s return in a way that respects his previous sacrifice.
Using Iron Man variants from Marvel Comics could provide exciting new directions for the character’s future in the MCU.

Robert Downey Jr.’s recent comments about returning as Iron Manhave many speculating how his MCU return could happen following his death in Avengers: Endgame, but Kevin Feige already gave a pretty clear answer to this question. In a recent interview, Downey Jr. said he would happily” return as Iron Man and discussed how much the role meant to him. Downey Jr. also made comments ahead of his Oscar win that he believed some of his best acting work was done in the MCU, even if he wasn’t recognized for it the same way he was for Oppenheimer.

While many would likely be just as happy as Robert Downey Jr. himself to see the return of Tony Stark, it does raise some major questions. After all, Tony’s Avengers: Endgame death was a major moment for the MCU. Bringing the character back could risk cheapening the emotional impact of his sacrifice. Luckily, it seems like Marvel understands this, and Kevin Feige has already addressed how he would go about bringing back Iron Man.


We Already Know The Best Way To Bring Iron Man Back To The MCU (& Its Biggest Problem)

Iron Man died in Avengers: Endgame, but the best way to bring him back in the Multiverse Saga comes with a big problem regarding his character arc.

Tony Stark Died In Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Kevin Feige has said in no uncertain terms that Marvel will not be reversing Iron Man’s death from Avengers: Endgame. Feige made it clear that Iron Man’s death was a moment that represented years of hard work behind the scenes, and that he would not want to change anything about it.

We are going to keep that moment and not touch that moment again.
We all worked very hard for many years to get to that, and we would never want to magically undo it in any way”

Initially, this may seem like Feige is saying Iron Man can’t return, but there are still ways for Iron Man to come back in the MCU without touching this moment.

Loki introduced the idea of variants to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – alternate reality versions of existing MCU characters. Variants have since been seen in multiple projects like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and The Marvels’ post-credits scene. This is an option Marvel likes to use for bringing back dead characters, like Maria Rambeau, and the franchise could easily use a variant as a way to bring back Iron Man as well.

An Iron Man Variant Would Let RDJ Return Without Ruining His Endgame Sacrifice

Alternate Reality Variants Have Been Used To Bring Back Several MCU Characters

Bringing back Iron Man as a variant would allow Kevin Feige to fulfill his promise of not changing Iron Man’s sacrifice, while also allowing Downey Jr. to reprise the role. MCU audiences have already proven they can separate stories of variants from the original versions thanks to Loki. Viewers were easily able to separate the Loki from the show from the one who died in Avengers: Infinity War, making it clear that they could do the same for Iron Man.

Bringing back Iron Man as a variant could also be a way to give Robert Downey Jr. a chance to change some aspects of the character. While it’s clear the actor has a lot of affection for the original version of Tony Stark, he may still want a bit of a change after playing the same character for over 10 years. By playing a variant, Downey Jr. could preserve the parts of the character he enjoyed, while adding new elements that made sense for an alternate version.

Which Iron Man Variant Makes The Most Sense For The MCU?

Over 70 Versions Of Iron Man Have Appeared In Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics has countless alternate reality versions of Tony Stark that the MCU could pull from to inspire its Iron Man variant. One interesting choice could be Antonio Stark from Marvel’s Ultimate Universe – specifically, during the time that he operated as Iron Patriot. This version of Tony was hoping to inspire the American people similar to the way Captain America is supposed to. Giving the MCU a Tony who is acting more like his often rival, Steve Rogers, could be a fun twist on the character.

The MCU could also take Tony in the exact opposite direction, and adapt the Superior Iron Man comics. During this time, Tony’s morals were completely rewritten by magic, causing him to turn into a villain. A ruthlessly efficient genius with no morals would present a compelling MCU villain already, but having him also be a variant of Tony Stark would add a lot of complex emotions for the heroes who knew the original Tony.

Of course, the MCU may also benefit from introducing a Tony Stark variant from one of its own established alternate universes. For example, Robert Downey Jr. could play an Iron Man from the same universe as the Illuminati that was killed in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, possibly out for revenge. Or, if The Fantastic Four is taking place in an alternate reality, the MCU could give Downey Jr. a cameo asa 1960s-style Iron Man.

The most likely place for Tony to appear again is probably Avengers: Secret Wars. The movie is expected to have a lot of cameos from different universes, so this would be the perfect place to bring back Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. could return as any of these Iron Manvariants, or even a unique one created for the MCU specifically, without undermining his death in Avengers: Endgame.

Key Release Dates

Deadpool & Wolverine

Marvel’s Thunderbolts

The Fantastic Four (2025)

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

Avengers: Secret Wars

“}]] Here’s how RDJ can return as Iron Man.  Read More