Why are fans desperate for Iron Man to return for another Marvel movie?
Some fans of Marvel’s cinematic universe are now pressuring the studio to resurrect Iron Man. Barstool’s podcast Lights, Camera, Barstool shared a photo on Twitter of a recently erected billboard in Los Angeles. The text, stylized as a typical Marvel logo reads “For our beloved hero, please bring back Tony Stark”.
The billboard also sports a hashtag, #BringBackTonyStarkToLife. While the fans who put the billboard up could use a better copy editor, their plea is clearly heartfelt and thought out. Despite that, Marvel isn’t likely to honor the request, and a majority of their fans would prefer the studio leave Tony Stark as is.
The legend of Tony Stark
Marvel kicked off their cinematic universe in 2008 with Iron Man. The movie was a smash success, forming the bedrock on which Marvel’s industry-dominating machine now stands. It also single-handedly revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career and made him a worldwide superstar.
Since 2008 the Marvel universe has expanded greatly and now includes more than twenty different films. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark appeared in nine of those films. He was, without a doubt, the most popular character and actor in Marvel’s universe. He was so essential to Marvel’s success that they famously gave him 8% of the profits for his final movie, Avengers: Endgame.
The dramatic conclusion to Marvel’s “Infinity Saga” saw Tony Stark sacrificing himself to defeat Thanos and save not just the world, but the entire universe. His death is the most emotional moment in Marvel’s cinematic canon. With a snap, Tony Stark prevented the deaths of billions and forever changed the direction of Marvel’s films moving forward.
Why bring him back?
Tony Stark’s exit from Marvel might have been epically portrayed, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. Many Marvel fans view Tony Stark, and Robert Downey Jr. with him, as the essential heart of the entire Marvel cinematic universe. They aren’t wrong.
Iron Man kicked off Marvel’s ambitious project, and the character Iron Man became the glue that brought all the films together. He was the first superhero to be accepted (and rejected) from the Avengers. His actions dictated the plot for Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was also the point-of-origin for Civil War and Marvel’s Spider-Man films.
The fans behind the billboard in LA just can’t imagine how Marvel films can work without Tony Stark at the center of them all. They aren’t excited about the possibilities of new stories and new characters. They just want to see the character who made them love the Marvel cinematic universe return to it.
Marvel hasn’t yet directly addressed the concerns of these particular fans. That hasn’t stopped other Marvel fans from voicing their opinion about the #BringBackTonyStarkToLife campaign online. Most sympathize with the impulse behind the billboard while acknowledging that its request should never be granted.
If Marvel brings Tony back to life, they’ll essentially be retconning the last twenty minutes of the Avengers: Endgame movie. That means some of the most powerful scenes in the entire Marvel cinematic universe will have the emotion sapped out of them. Tony’s sacrifice would become less meaningful, as would post-Endgame Marvel entries that deal with the fallout of his death.
One of the biggest criticisms of the Marvel cinematic universe is that it rarely has real stakes. The world may be under attack by monstrous aliens, but everyone knows that the Avengers will pull through in the end. Tony’s death adds weight and emotional depth to Marvel’s universe that it otherwise lacks.
Marvel knows all this, and they’re likely smart enough to keep Tony’s sacrifice intact. A more practical concern for the studio is the financial cost of bringing Robert Downey Jr. back. He’s the highest-paid Marvel star, out-earning his co-stars even in movies not centered around his character.
By keeping Tony Stark dead, Marvel keeps some stakes in their universe and saves a pretty penny. Disappointing as it may be for some fans, that’s easy math for a movie studio. Anyone who’s missing their favorite superhero can always revisit the Iron Man movies.