The massive new poster for Avengers: Infinity War features a whopping 23 characters, but what’s most interesting is the man who started it all: is it trying to tell us something about Tony Stark’s fate? Alongside dropping the full trailer for Infinity War, Marvel has also released a character-packed poster to similar scrutiny.
What stands out most immediately about the newest piece is how closely it resembles the design scheme that Marvel has recently deployed for the final posters of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, all of which depart radically from the past decade’s orthodoxy on poster design by favoring stark primary-colors and symmetrical-arrangements of characters into deliberate patterns as opposed to static group shots or the notorious “big head” posters of the early-2000s.
Notably, the arrangement of characters into “quadrants” appears to also have been deliberate beyond mere aesthetics, with the poster divided up into groupings that highlight the sub-teams formed in the film: Captain America, Black Panther and other characters shown fighting in Wakanda are grouped on the left while Thor and the Guardians of The Galaxy are on the left. Pairs of characters with personally-owned Infinity Stones (Vision and Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange and Wong) have upper corners to themselves, while presumably central/multitasking figures like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow and Thanos himself form a vertical line at the center.
But the most intriguing – and potentially ominous – character-posing may be that of Iron Man, who is in the very middle of the poster; the light from his Arc Reactor “heart” (pointedly showing bright blue/white light amid a largely orange-glow lighting scheme) sitting at the actual center of the grouping itself. Specifically, both of his arms are extended at 90-degree angles straight out from his torso, forming a “T” shape – or a Crucifixion. While primarily positioning Tony as the focus, this imagery really does evoke the classical view of Christ’s sacrifice.
Obviously, Iron Man was always going to have a prominent spot on such a tableau, given that it was his debut feature that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself and to many fans Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark remains the “biggest” superhero star of the entire franchise. But it’s equally true that RDJ’s tenure in the role (at least in terms of main-character appearances) is winding down – and as such he’s been widely speculated by fans as one of the MCU mainstays who could meet a tragic but dramatic death in Infinity War. Could evoking Christ be Marvel teasing a gallant sacrifice for its founding superhero? Or, taking the Christ metaphor a step further, will he die and rise again – a resurrection arc is definitely possible given the near-limitless powers of the Infinity Stones?
That said, there’s no guarantee that the outstretched-arms pose is a deliberate allusion to Christ-imagery – particularly in an increasingly diverse era where religious/cultural touchstones are less and less presumed to be universal (Thor strikes a similar pose in the Ragnarok poster, albeit while holding his swords). Additionally, even if it is intentional, “martyrdom” need not necessarily refer to literal death: he may have to “only” endure some type of intense pain or loss – perhaps of his fortune or ability to use the Iron Man armor itself.
It remains a near-certainty that with stakes as big and dire as those on display in Avengers: Infinity War, one or more major characters will be making their exit as part of this story. And with everyone waiting on edge to see if their favorites survive or not, anything can be a clue. Tony Stark fans better be cautious.
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