Avengers: Endgame co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo say that Tony Stark was right about his mentality leading to the creation of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The A.I. project-gone-wrong part of the "Ultron" global defense program was supposed to help safeguard Earth against any extraterrestrial attack similar to what happened in the Battle of New York. Motivated by the Scarlet Witch-induced hallucination that showed a post-apocalyptic world where his fellow heroes are dead, Stark built Ultron with the help of Bruce Banner using the Mind Stone. But the unexpectedly sentient robot turned against his creator and posed a massive threat that resulted in the destruction of Sokovia.
Stark received a lot of heat for Ultron, and that mistake haunted him for years. It was one of the reasons why the Sokovia Accords was introduced leading to his conflict with Captain America and the eventual break up of the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. This left Earth at its most vulnerable making the perfect time for Thanos to strike. Despite all this, the Endgame directors believed that Stark was ultimately right for wanting to create a defense system that would fend off alien threats like Thanos.
Speaking with Slate about Endgame, the Russo Brothers were asked about Stark's outburst early in the film where he recalled his repeated warnings about his vision of the post-apocalyptic future which his fellow heroes conveniently ignored. Joe backed up Iron Man's mentality when he began creating Ultron saying he's not wrong about wanting a global protection mechanism especially considering how hard they had to work to defeat Loki's attempt to take over the world with the assist from Thanos' henchmen.
He was not wrong that there was a great threat coming, and they needed to build a suit of armor around the world, and at what point do civil liberties trump—no pun intended—do civil liberties come before the government’s ability to protect its citizens?
I think what’s interesting is that to some extent, they had to go through this. There was a sense of destiny to this. They had to go through it to win it. And in a way both he and Cap were right.
While Age of Ultron is one of the divisive films in the MCU catalog, there were a lot of world-building that took place in the film. The ideological differences between Stark and Steve Rogers began to be more prominent which made their Civil War disagreement easier to sell. A lot that transpired in the twin Avengers sequels was also foreshadowed in the film including Hawkeye's arc in Avengers and Captain America wielding the Mjolnir. In fact, the very title of Endgame was first uttered in the Joss Whedon-directed sequel. So although it had problems, it serves a greater purpose in the bigger franchise storytelling.
In hindsight, Stark has always been right about the threat coming. For years, he's been painted as the MCU's quasi-villain and despite his coy attitude, he was always at the forefront of every battle to protect Earth. Even when the Avengers broke up and the majority of the heroes sided with Captain America, he continued work on his tech, preparing for any possible attack. Sadly, he couldn't defeat Thanos by himself, he needed the aide of every single MCU hero to make sure that they have a chance to take down the villain in Avengers: Endgame. However, in the end, it still boiled down to him and his decision to sacrifice his life to eliminate the threat he's been gearing up for since Avengers: Age of Ultron.
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