Robert Downey Jr. will reportedly be seen as Iron Man once more in Black Widow, and here's how it could happen without undermining Avengers: Endgame. Tony Stark has been the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very beginning. He appeared in nine of the first twenty-two films, up until his heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. This moment has forced Marvel Studios to move on without one of their key characters.
As a result, the MCU will look and feel radically different in Phase 4 and beyond. However, it will include another original Avenger, as Marvel Studios is finally giving Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) her own movie. Much like Iron Man, Black Widow also sacrificed her life in Avengers: Endgame for the greater good of the universe. This will result in the Black Widow movie taking place in the past of the MCU and will expand her story in that way. The film currently is set to focus on introducing new characters to the MCU's mythology rather than bring back familiar ones, although old rumors suggested Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) could appear.
The latest rumor for the solo film though says that Iron Man will appear in the movie too. The news has been somewhat divisive though, as many found Tony Stark's sendoff in Avengers: Endgame to be a perfect final appearance. We don't know how this will happen yet, but there are multiple options for how Black Widow can do this, such as repurposing old footage or Marvel luring Downey back for some quick work and a massive paycheck. And most importantly, any of these options can be done without undermining Iron Man's ending.
Black Widow Takes Place After Civil War But Before Infinity War
One of the key reasons why new scenes with Iron Man in Black Widow won't undermine Avengers: Endgame is because this scene will take place long before this moment. Black Widow is confirmed to be a prequel and pick up shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but prior to Natasha's return in Avengers: Infinity War. This is likely the only time that a solo Black Widow story could be told that isn't an unneeded origin story.
Regardless of how Iron Man does return, Black Widow is guaranteed to only use Iron Man in the past. While it may be strange for fans to see him on the big screen again, the important part to remember is that such an appearance won't reverse what he did. There's no difference between seeing Tony Stark again in a limited role in Black Widow to having Scarlett Johansson reprise her role - beyond this movie finally putting her in the spotlight.
Black Widow Could Contact Iron Man While On the Run
As for how Black Widow can actually integrate Iron Man into the story, one option would be for Natasha to try contacting him while she is on the run. She is in this position after turning against Tony and Team Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War, as she helped Captain America and Bucky escape. Her last scene in that movie was a conversation with Tony about how people will be coming after her. This sparks her to go on the run and will lead to the adventure we see in Black Widow. Since she is off on her own, it is possible that Natasha could be in need of some help depending on what challenges she comes across.
While she may look to Yelena or others for help, she could also reach out to Tony for help potentially. This would give him an incredibly small role in Black Widow and make for quick work for Downey. If this is how he appears, it will be fascinating to see how Tony responds to Nat's call. Since they ended slightly bad terms, there's no guarantee that he will help her out. Natasha is a fugitive at this point in time, after all, so Tony may not feel like he's capable of helping her. It's even possible that Nat looking for help is what eventually leads her to join Captain America's Secret Avengers team in Infinity War.
Iron Man Could Appear in a Flashback
If Iron Man isn't contacted by Black Widow in the present, then it's possible that his scene in the movie is part of a flashback. Even though Black Widow's place in the MCU timeline has been confirmed, it is still believed that the movie could show more of Nat's past too. Black Widow is clearly tied to the Red Room, so flashbacks could be incorporated to show her in training or even on early missions for Russia. If these flashbacks focus on more recent events in her life, then we could even see her when she's part of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Nat and Tony have an obvious early history thanks to Iron Man 2 and that could be fertile ground for a flashback scene to this same time. But, that movie also showed Tony's first "I am Iron Man" quote on news around the world. It's possible that Black Widow could use a similar idea and show her learning of this for the first time. There's also the potential for Black Widow to show the lead up to her and Tony meet for the first time. These events were teased in a prelude comic for Iron Man 2, but the upcoming film could make them official canon.
Iron Man's Scene Could Use Deleted Footage
In a similar vein, there is the opportunity for Black Widow to include Tony Stark by using deleted scenes or reworking footage that was previously used. They did the latter in Spider-Man: Far From Home, by showing Tony's unveiling of B.A.R.F. and revealing that Quentin Beck was there. Something similar to this could be done if need be, or Black Widow could pull a deleted or alternate scene from Marvel's vault. If that is the case, then there's a chance Marvel has already tipped us off as to what interaction between Tony and Natasha could be used.
Although they have yet to release a trailer for Black Widow online, Marvel Studios showed the same one at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 and D23. The Black Widow trailer featured their final conversation from Captain America: Civil War, where Tony talks about Rhodey's injuries and tells her "it must be hard to shake that double-agent thing" after bringing up how they handled this situation wrong. He also mentions that Ross will be coming after her for turning on them and she retorts by saying "I'm not the one who needs to watch their back." It's possible that there is an extended version of this conversation that Black Widow is going to use to help set up what Nat's mindset is when the movie begins.
Even if this scene, in particular, isn't the focus, a deleted scene is the easiest option for Marvel. It wouldn't require them to do any additional filming to get the scene, and also doesn't mean having to convince Downey to come back to the MCU. He's been fairly adamant that he's officially done with Marvel Studios and was even hesitant to come back to reshoot his death scene. Downey Jr. agreeing to return so quickly would be somewhat odd but, through deleted or altered scenes, Black Widow can still make this work.
- 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
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022