Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) wasn't the adopted son of Howard and Maria Stark, say Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The MCU's inaugural hero wrapped up his journey in the franchise after 11 years in a fitting, albeit tragic way. But the filmmakers behind the movie made sure to tie up all remaining loose ends to his story - that includes getting the closure he always longed for with his father.
After the heroes' defeat against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Tony decided to focus the next five years of his life as a family man. Marrying Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and having daughter Morgan (Lexi Rabe), the genius, billionaire lived a quiet life away. But with the notion of being able to bring back Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) came up through the Time Heist mission, he suited back up. This led him to travel back to the 1970s to retrieve the Tesseract and meet a much younger Howard. The two had a casual, yet heartwarming conversation about parenting in light of Howard and his wife, Maria expecting a baby - a reveal that earned a weird reaction from Tony. So while it's obvious that Endgame was alluding to the hero's own birth, some fans wondered if there's more to it than that, especially when the comics revealed that Tony was adopted.
Now, fans have a definitive answer to this mystery. In the commentary for Endgame's Home Release, Markus and McFeely dissected the strangeness of Tony offering Howard parenting advice. They then confirmed that it's extra odd considering that the father was extremely worried about the birth of the same son giving tips for raising him. This effectively squashes theories that Howard might be referring to a different child when he met with a time-traveling Tony in the movie.
All in all, even if Tony was indeed adopted, it really didn't matter at that point in time in the story. Granted that it can factor in the universe moving forward in case they want to mine inspiration from the comic books and introduce Arno Stark. But that narrative is simply too convoluted to adapt into the big screen, at least in the foreseeable future. The fact of the matter is, Tony grew up knowing Howard and Maria as his parents, and a large chunk of his arc in the franchise delved into his relationship with them. In fact, it was even the crux of his story in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: Civil War. Fans know that he had regrets about not making up with his dad before he was killed in 1991, and to be able to wrap up his story properly, Endgame needed to address all lingering plot points regarding his overall MCU arc.
All that being said, in case Marvel Studios wants to spin Tony's reaction to Howard's comments about his wife expecting, that's also entirely possible. Through the years, they've found narrative openings and use them to spin new stories in a way that makes it look like it has always been planned (case in point: young Peter Parker in Iron Man 2). There's nothing wrong with this since the MCU thrives in interconnectivity and for the most part, it's worked for them. But as far as what's confirmed in Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark wasn't adopted.
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- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021