Doctor Strange May Hint at Tony Stark's Coming Death
It may seem like the death of Tony Stark won't fix anything for the better - the world will be more vulnerable without Iron Man, and Peter won't have his example to follow any further. But Infinity War shows the real endgame Tony has been preparing for since The Avengers: there are no good choices left, and alive or not, the Tony dreaming of raising a child with Pepper in the film's first scenes is not the one left shaken in its ending. There may be only one possible course of action for Tony Stark to take... and Doctor Strange may have already revealed the price it will cost.
Some fans have already noticed that Doctor Strange's plan is deeper than it seems. With little respect or reverence for Tony on their way to the planet Titan, Strange seems to grasp the threat of Thanos more than anyone. A point he makes clear when stating that he would allow death to claim all other heroes before he ever gave up the Stone.
Until he looks into the future, and reveals to Tony - in carefully considered, somber words, and we would argue with seemingly higher regard for Tony from that point on - that of the millions of failures, there is "just one" path that doesn't end in total defeat. In turning over the Time Stone to keep Tony alive, Strange reveals Iron Man is - given his previous claims - the most important person to this story going forward. And as Strange turns to dust, it isn't advice or insight into the future he offers with a quip or dig.
Doctor Strange gives a heartfelt, grim apology to Tony... Reiterating that "there was no other way."
Tony Stark Must Die So The Universe Can Live
Our theory, which we believe is supported by both Tony's character arc thus far, and the clues offered by Doctor Strange, is that only Tony can undo the actions of, and eventually defeat Thanos. That's what Strange saw when looking into the future, and why he suddenly stopped when finally seeing the one way for the heroes to win: Tony Stark can defeat Thanos, but it will cost him his life to do it.
By the end of Infinity War, the filmmakers give a strong case that Tony would give his life for Peter's, if not based on logic or strategy, then as a fatherly sacrifice for the closest thing he has ever had to a son. How poetic it would be, then, that Thanos would sacrifice the child he loves to do the impossible, only to be beaten by the man who would sacrifice himself for the friends, the family, the future, and the child he loves.
And so we return to that Avengers scene in which Steve Rogers realized that Tony Stark would never make "the sacrifice play" and lie down on the wire so his friends could crawl over him. Tony fired back by claiming he would instead "cut the wire." If he were able to travel back in time for Avengers 4, and engineer the future to allow his own death to save half the universe, Tony will manage to do both.
Giving Tony, and Downey, the chance to go out a hero, leaving the future bright for the next generation of heroes aspiring to his greatness. It would make so perfect a conclusion to Stark's story, we're already coming to term with the loss.
Let us know what you think of our theory, and whether Tony should sacrifice his life come Avengers 4. If you have your own theory, we want to hear it!
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018