Iron Man may have survived Thanos's snap in Avengers: Infinity War, but for Tony Stark that was probably the greatest torture he could have suffered. He'd lived six years with the knowledge that a terrible threat was coming, and he'd done his best to prepare for it. In the end, though, it just wasn't enough.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlet Witch's telepathic powers gave Stark a haunting vision of a cosmic tableau, one in which he saw the Avengers defeated, broken by the threat he believed was coming. The climax of that vision was the moment when the dying Captain America grasped Stark's hand, and whispered, "You could have saved us" with his final breath. Now, that vision has come true (sort of): half the life in the universe was extinguished with a snap of Thanos's fingers, including people Tony cared a great deal about. There's no way a control freak like Tony Stark won't blame himself, believing he could have done more.
But was this torture intentional on Thanos's part? And what will it motivate Stark to do in next year's Avengers 4? Here, we're going to take a deep-dive into the end of Iron Man's battle with Thanos, the psychological consequences it will have upon Tony, and the likely ways it will drive him in next year's Avengers sequel.
- This Page: What Tony Stark Experienced In Avengers 4
- Page 2: How Survival Will Affect Tony Stark
Thanos Expected Tony Stark To Die
While the bulk of the Avengers engaged the Black Order and the army of Outriders in Wakanda, it fell to just a handful of heroes - Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy - to take on Thanos himself on Titan. By the end of the battle, Stark's friends were defeated, and he was literally the last man standing. Iron Man threw every weapon in his arsenal against the Mad Titan, using his nanotechnology to simulate the capabilities of countless earlier generations of armor. But Thanos responded with the worlds-destroying might of the Power Stone, and even Tony couldn't defend himself against that. Ironically, in the end it was Stark's own weapons that were used against him. He formed a blade on one arm but Thanos snapped it off, and stabbed him through the chest with it. The Mad Titan's strength was so great that the blade pierced Tony's body, emerging from his back. That wound alone should have been fatal.
Although Thanos prepared a finisher - one using the combined power of all four Infinity Stones he wielded at the time - that was simply overkill. Perhaps, in recognition of the battle Stark had given him, Thanos decided to honor the defeated Avenger with a quick death rather than an agonizingly slow one. Perhaps he'd just enjoyed the fight, and wanted to experience the pleasure of killing his opponent; the visceral joy Thanos takes in the deaths he causes is visible throughout the film. Whatever the truth, when Thanos stayed his hand in response to Doctor Strange's entreaty, he believed Tony Stark was as good as dead. "I hope they remember you," Thanos observed, signifying that he thought Stark would be nothing more than a memory.
Of course, Thanos had underestimated his enemy. Tony Stark had one last tool in his armor; sophisticated medical technology. Stark will have been badly injured, likely suffering severe internal bleeding, but he survived, the wounds closed with some sort of sealant.
Did Tony Think He Was About To Be Dusted?
And then came the snap, and Tony watched in horror as allies faded away before his eyes. The worst was undoubtedly the death of Peter Parker, the teenager who Stark himself had encouraged to become a hero. As we saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony felt a sense of responsibility for Spider-Man. "If you died, I feel like that's on me," he once told the wall-crawler. Tony held Peter's body in his arms as the teenager crumbled to dust.
Immediately after Peter's death, there's a brief scene in which Tony stares at his hands. Some viewers have interpreted that as Stark's believing - perhaps even hoping - that he was about to dissolve to ash as well. That reading is unlikely; it's more probable that Tony's mind was reeling from the shock of what he'd just experienced, that he was staring at the dust on his fingers, unable to process the horror of it all. Perhaps a part of Tony wished he would die; wished he would fade away, as his allies and even his protege had done before his grief-stricken eyes. But there's no evidence he expected it.
Page 2 of 2: How Will This Experience Affect Tony Stark?
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019