In the lead-up to Avengers: Endgame, one of the main topics of speculation within the MCU fanbase was the question of who will and won’t live to see the end of the Avengers: Infinity War sequel, and with the possible exception of Steve Rogers, no hero was more widely predicted to meet a sad end than Tony Stark. Sure enough, Anthony and Joe Russo’s latest feature climaxed with Iron Man using the Infinity Stones to vanquish Thanos and his forces, killing himself in the process.
As saddened as fans were by this development, it was hardly the most surprising conclusion to Tony’s arc. What’s more, in a recent interview with Off Camera, Robert Downey Jr. implied that even Stark himself may have known on some level that he wouldn’t survive his final mission:
“The last suit he has isn’t even designed for him to be able to survive using it. The first suit is all about, ‘will this get me, and my ego, and my precious physical frame out of this cave I’m in and into the desert, where maybe the cavalry can come get me and bring me back to my stupid life.’ The last one is not designed to be able to do its job and have you make it past it.”
Downey then went on to explain why Tony’s demise was a fitting end to the hero’s journey:
“So, that’s the great Joseph Campbell mythology of, like, ultimately you go from refusing the call of being a serendipitous hero and by the end your willing to give the ultimate sacrifice, your life, despite your family, and your groundedness, and your desire to not want to do that, so that community can thrive.”
The actor’s comments echo those made by co-writer Stephen McFeely in an interview with Fandango back in May. Contrasting Iron Man’s death with Captain America’s retirement, the scribe argued that the two heroes were on opposite trajectories, starting with Tony as a “self-interested playboy” and Steve as “a man for others.” From here, McFeely argued that “Steve had to find a life,” while “Tony had to lose his” by way of a truly selfless act.
As it stands, both heroes are seemingly out of the game, but while Iron Man’s journey most likely ended with Avengers: Endgame, his presence was heavily felt in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In fact, if a recent tease from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is anything to go by, then Tony’s death will continue to send ripples across the MCU as we move into the franchise’s next phase.