Avengers: Endgame Director Says Robert Downey Jr.’s MCU Return Has To Be Earned

Iron Man

The Russo Brothers recently took part in ComicBook.com’s Quarantine Watch Party of Avengers: Endgame alongside writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. This week saw the one year anniversary of the movie’s release and the Russos have been very active on social media releasing BTS videos from the set as well as in-theater reactions to some special moments from the film.

Perhaps the most memorable scene from the movie is Iron Man sacrificing himself by wielding the Infinity Gauntlet and turning Thanos into dust. It’s a fantastic moment, paying off more than a decade of storytelling. But it’s also bittersweet, as Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark has become synonymous with the franchise.

The question now, is, will we ever see him again in the MCU? When asked this on the ReelBlend Podcast, Anthony Russo said that there would have to be a good reason for him to return, explaining:

“We’ve always said this and we’ve believed this. Stakes have to be real. If they are not real, then you know… the audience’s emotional investment in those moments, with those characters, and the narrative is contingent upon them feeling like there’s something to be lost. In all of our storytelling…in those Marvel movies… a lot of those stories are difficult. We wanted to commit very hard to that idea. To answer your question, I think like… in the context of that, it depends how he was brought back. It depends what the storytelling is. It’s certainly something that has to be earned. It’s certainly something that has to surprise and shock audiences. You can’t simply just bring him back. There would have to be a really compelling, innovative, unpredictable narrative event to find your way there, in order for it to be worth it.

He really hits the nail on the head here. The inherent problem with superhero movies is a lack of stakes. These characters are seemingly invincible, so whenever they’re put in a dangerous situation, deep down we know they’ll make it. As such, having Iron Man and Black Widow die in Avengers: Endgame was a necessary evil.

Everyone loves Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark and we obviously can’t imagine seeing anyone else play the part. But bringing him back just for the sake of it disrupts the overall story and lessens the dramatic weight. Downey Jr. has expressed interest in returning, especially after a $75 million payday on Endgame, but like Russo says, it has to feel earned.

Having said that, it’s not like it would be difficult to bring him back. Avengers: Endgame introduced a time machine and the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will have the good doctor entering multiple dimensions with alternate realities.

They should at least wait a few years before considering it, though. Give the new characters time to grow and evolve. That way, if it does happen, it will feel more organic and less like a glorified cameo.