Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely thought about keeping Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) alive. The MCU's inaugural hero debuted more than a decade ago in Jon Favreau's Iron Man and over the years, he went through a series of events as he took his superhero role more seriously. Stark met his end, however, ensuring that the universe will be free of Thanos' threat by wielding the power of all six Infinity Stones to snap the Mad Titan out of existence.
Marvel Studios creatives including president Kevin Feige revealed that Iron Man's fate had been sealed as early as 2016. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo pitched his character's personal narrative ending in Endgame to Downey, and apparently, the actor was initially hesitant about it. He eventually mellowed on the idea, resulting in arguably his best outing as Tony Stark in the Marvel Studios blockbuster. However, the film's writers admit there was a time they thought about letting the genius, billionaire survive the Thanos-debacle.
Speaking with Canada.com, Markus and McFeely reveal that at one point, they contemplated letting Stark live in Endgame since there might still be stories for the character left to tell. However, they eventually scrapped the idea, realizing that a heroic death was a more fitting ending to the character, especially when looking at his trajectory over the course of 11 years.
"We considered ways to let Tony live and whether there was a story there. But (dying) was the last thing he needed to do to become a fully-realized hero. There was never a better story than that. As for Captain America, he was willing to kill himself twice in his first movie. So it didn’t seem like a particularly interesting thing to have him do."
One note, however, that Markus and McFeely missed in their justification is that Stark was actually willing to die for the greater cause in a handful of occasions. He went through the New York City portal to hurl the nuclear bomb at the Chitauri's mothership in The Avengers; he was directly involved in lifting Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which could've killed him and Thor (Chris Hemsworth); and he readily sought Thanos on Titan in the hopes of making sure he wouldn't be able to get to Earth in Avengers: Infinity War. Every time he survived a near-death experience, he pushed his limits next time, almost as if figuring out when he will run out of luck.
This doesn't invalidate the idea that Stark making the sacrificial play was the best way to wrap his character journey in the MCU. Sad as it is knowing that he left Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Morgan (Lexi Rabe), there's poetic justice in seeing him sacrifice himself for the greater good considering he started as a self-serving industrialist. There's a bittersweet feeling to seeing him go in Avengers: Endgame, but at the same time, it made sense for Marvel Studios to end the Infinity Saga with the death of the hero that started it in the first place. Narrative-wise, it would've also been dissatisfying if he wasn't the one to ultimately defeat Thanos given that much of his arc in the last several years centered around the existence of the villain. And while fans would be happy had Stark survived and stuck around, capping off his journey in an emotional way in Avengers: Endgame is much better in terms of leaving an indelible mark as one of best characters in modern cinema.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021