Tony Stark, Master of the Mystic Arts
Infinity War and Avengers 4 were filmed back-to-back, and there seems to have been some overlap during filming. That means some of the behind-the-scenes footage already released may actually link in to Avengers 4. Take, for example, mysterious shots showing Tony Stark wearing the Cloak of Levitation on Titan. At the time, it was assumed to be part of an action sequence, but now Strange has been erased from existence it may be something more. Indeed, he wasn't wearing the Cloak at the time, meaning it's still around for Tony to take up.
In the comics, several of Marvel's key scientists have actually dabbled with the mystic arts. Mr. Fantastic, for example, was once given possession of a powerful amulet with which to attack Doctor Doom; every time he confessed his ignorance and the limits of his intelligence, it projected a devastating attack. More recently, the X-Men's Beast has learned quite a few mystic tricks of his own, almost unleashing a Hell-dimension. Even Tony Stark is no stranger to sorcery. A number of comics have suggested there are future timelines in which he actually becomes Sorcerer Supreme. The idea was finally explored in detail in last year's Generations: Iron Man & Ironheart one-shot, which saw Riri Williams meet the 126-year-old Tony Stark. So there's a clear comic book precedent for Stark to begin working with magic.
In both comics and the MCU, magic and science are essentially one and the same. Marvel Studios, in particular, has worked hard to establish a scientific basis for their sorcery. When producing Doctor Strange, Marvel consulted with countless theoretical physicists and experts in quantum mechanics. Given the scientific principles that underpin the MCU's magic, it's hardly inconceivable that Tony Stark would begin to intuit the laws of magic. It's possible this could give him the unique perspective he needs to defeat Thanos.
The Ultimate 'Sacrifice Play'
The currently untitled Avengers 4 is clearly something of a "last hurrah" for the classic team, given most of the heroes from Phases 2 and 3 were erased from existence in Infinity War. With the next movie the true finale, it seems likely that Tony Stark will pay the ultimate price.
That's essentially been Stark's main character arc all along: does he have what it takes to truly be a hero? In the first Iron Man, he revealed his identity when needled by Christine Everhart in a press conference. "I never said you were a superhero," Everhart teased, prompting Stark to out himself as Iron Man. Steve Rogers challenged Tony in a similar way in The Avengers. "You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play," Captain America argued. "To lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you." That question has hung over Tony Stark's entire superhero career; is he able to set aside his own interests, in order to become the hero the planet - in this case, the universe - actually needs?
Ironically, of course, Doctor Strange was making a "sacrifice play" in Avengers: Infinity War himself. He'd seen the future and knew what Thanos would do with the Infinity Gauntlet. When Strange handed over the Time Stone, he was well aware that he would soon be erased from existence. "There was no other way," he concluded, and so he accepted his fate in order to ensure Tony Stark could live on. If Avengers 4 does indeed conclude with Stark's death, there will be a neat inversion to it; Strange embraced death so Stark could live, in order for Stark to die and save the cosmos from the insane wrath of Thanos.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018