Avengers: Endgame could have been a stronger, more satisfying movie if Iron Man’s (Robert Downey Jr.) most mystical and crucial scene had not been removed. Though Spider-Man: Far From Home is set to close out Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Endgame is the film that feels like the true completion of the Infinity Saga. This is not just because the movie sees the end of Thanos’s (Josh Brolin) quest to reshape the universe; it feels more conclusive because it contains farewells to characters that audiences have followed for over a decade.
Endgame’s final moments finds an aged Captain America (Chris Evans) retiring from super heroism, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) walking away from the Asgardian throne, seemingly for good. These events occur after the funeral of Tony Stark, who had used his own Infinity Gauntlet to defeat Thanos, but at the cost of his life.
The death of Iron Man is, undoubtedly, one of Endgame’s most powerful moments. It’s very suitable that the character who effectively started the MCU bows out as the franchise heads in another direction. Stark’s sacrifice is also fitting end to the billionaire’s long learning curve where, in the Iron Man trilogy and beyond, he wrestled with his personal demons and the responsibility of his newfound heroism. However, Stark’s demise would have been even more poignant if Endgame’s climatic scenes had capitalized on the most mysterious sequence in Avengers: Infinity War.
Iron Man Originally Saw Morgan Stark In The Soul World
In Infinity War’s shocking third act, a triumphant Thanos acquired all of the Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers - but audiences don’t immediately see the effects of that victory. Instead, Thanos is abruptly transported to a tranquil realm suffused with orange light. In this eerie place, the Mad Titan is reacquainted with his adopted daughter Gamora, which is odd for two reasons. The first is that Thanos murdered Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to attain the Soul Stone earlier in the film. Secondly, the warrior appears to Thanos as a child(Ariana Greenblatt), but she was an adult prior to her death.
This sequence prompted a flurry of speculation after Infinity War’s release. Fans generally surmised that this plane – dubbed “the Soul World” – was inside the enigmatic Soul Stone, where the consciousnesses of the other heroes would be stored alongside Gamora’s, ready for their resurrection in the next film. As we now know, Endgame follows the remaining Avengers as they travel through time to retrieve the stones and undo the snap with their own Infinity Gauntlet. Therefore, the Soul World is not referred to, nor does it appear again. Yet it was originally supposed to.
In a recent interview, Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed that, just like Thanos, Iron Man would have been transported to the Soul World after enacting his own version of the Decimation. Stark would have similarly seen his daughter there, but with a twist. Instead of appearing as a five-year-old (Alexandra Rachael Rabe) the vision of Morgan would have been a lot older and played by 13 Reasons Why star Katherine Langford. This metaphysical meetup was actually filmed, but the Russos ultimately chose to remove it from Endgame, since test audiences had been confused by the conversation. Instead, Tony and Morgan find closure in a different way.
Endgame Does Iron Man's Death Justice In A Different Way
As it stands, Endgame cuts from Tony’s snap to shots of Thanos and his army disintegrating. Soon after, Iron Man succumbs to the power of the Gauntlet while his friends and loved ones look on. Peter Parker (Tom Holland), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their companions return for a funeral service soon after, whereby Tony bids a fond farewell via a pre-recorded hologram. It’s hard to say whether this scene was created to replace the Soul World sequence during Endgame’s reshoots or it was always part of the plan. But it’s very likely that it could have been added later, given that Tony predominately addresses Morgan in his speech and assures her that he loves her 3000.
Displaying Tony’s penchant for forward planning – and his love of cutting-edge technology – this scene is certainly in keeping with Tony’s character. Indeed, there’s nothing outwardly wrong with this simple yet heartrending send-off. It’s especially poignant with its various call-backs to the first Iron Man movie. Ho Yinsen’s (Shaun Toub) advice of many years earlier paid off, and through his new lease of life, Tony made up for all that he had squandered. In doing so, Tony Stark gained everything that he had lacked before he became Iron Man – a loving family in the form of Pepper, Morgan and the Avengers.
Nevertheless, it’s odd that future-Morgan was removed, whereas the tear-jerking reunion between Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his newly grown up daughter Cassie (Emma Fuhrmann) remains, and exists as one of the Endgame’s most emotional scenes. Plus, whilst the ending serves the arc and personality of Tony Stark very well, it disregards the wider story that he is part of.
Cutting Iron Man's Soul World Vision Robbed Endgame Of A Thanos Mirror
The tale of Tony Stark has been told over ten movie appearances. But in spite of his prominence in the MCU, its worth remembering that he is only one part of the wider, climatic war against Thanos. Certainly, the two movies might not be called Infinity War: Part 1 and 2 anymore, but Endgame is undoubtedly one half of the story that its predecessor began. And, on that front, the removal of Tony Stark’s Soul World scene in Endgame causes a big problem, which is easily identifiable when we consider the Soul Stone itself.
The Soul Stone’s main defining quality is that it demands a sacrifice to be acquired on Vormir, and both Infinity War and Endgame depict this with the deaths of Gamora and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Indeed, from their staging to their musical scores, the two sequences are intentionally crafted to mirror each other, and the scenes act as crucial junctures for their characters. As such, it’s odd that Infinity War’s Soul World scene – which serves as a showcase of the Stones power, and an important character beat for Thanos – lacks a counterpart in Endgame. In fact, Endgame harms Infinity War by never referencing Thanos' vision in any shape or form, meaning that that eerie interlude is disconnected from the wider story around it. And it need not have been so.
We may never know the specifics of Endgame’s cut Soul World scene, but it stands to reason that, like the tragic deaths of Gamora and Black Widow, Endgame would have mirrored what Infinity War established. The Russos have confirmed that the future Morgan would have discussed Tony’s sacrifice, so it’s likely that Morgan would have asked: “Who did you save?” and Tony would reply “Everyone,” before she forgave him. A conversation such as this may have shed some much-needed light on the saga’s most nebulous and underdeveloped of MacGuffins. But, most crucially, it would have underscored the story’s most compelling character dynamic: the similarities between Iron Man and Thanos.
Moreover, Infinity War invited comparisons between these two characters. They are strong-willed free thinkers, who were “cursed with knowledge” and enacted questionable plots to save people. The two characters even snapped their fingers after letting loose a defiant quip. Yet this intriguing parallel was something that the Russo Bros largely dropped in Endgame. The tormented Thanos that bested Stark and the Avengers is beheaded within Endgame’s first half hour, and thanks to their tampering with time, a younger iteration of the Mad Titan is brought forth from 2014. This version lacks any connection to Stark or his fellow heroes, and the original Thanos’s perversely altruistic aims are dispensed with in lieu of a cliché plot to destroy the universe. As such, the inclusion of Tony Stark’s Soul World sequence would have added some meaty subtext to the movie, by emphasizing the similarities and differences between Iron Man and the Mad Titan.
Moreover, the potential “what did it cost/who did you save?” analogue would have underlined why Thanos was the villain and Iron Man is a hero, despite their morally dubious acts. Thanos kills so that he can save the universe on his terms, whereas Tony selflessly gives his life so that others may live in peace. In this way, Tony Stark’s conversation with Morgan in the Soul World would not just be a potent call back to Infinity War. A farewell between a man and the future daughter he will never know would have enhanced an already tragic tale. Plus, it would have been a fulfilling and highly charged character moment for Tony, Morgan and Thanos since it speaks to the key themes of heroism and sacrifice that have defined not just Iron Man’s movies, but Avengers: Endgame, and every other installment in the MCU.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019