The rumors about Robert Downey Jr. making a sharp return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe won’t be going away anytime soon, especially after Dolittle bombed hard at the box office and marked a major misstep for what was his first time in a movie where he wasn’t playing Tony Stark since 2014.
Of course, Tony’s ultimate sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame was one of the most emotionally powerful moments in the franchise’s history, and bringing him back would be seen as not just a massive cop-out, but would also dilute the impact of the entire Infinity Saga, which always revolved around Iron Man’s desire to protect the world regardless of what it might cost him in the end whether it be his company, friends, family, loved ones or even his life.
However, there are two upcoming projects in particular that could realistically have Tony return without affecting canon too greatly, both of which will see his shadow looming over them regardless of whether Downey Jr. actually shows up or not. Armor Wars will have Don Cheadle’s Rhodey take center stage to try and reclaim Stark tech that’s fallen into the wrong hands, while Ironheart follows teenage prodigy Riri Williams, who builds her own set of armor.
In the comic books, Tony acted as the voice of Ironheart’s AI as well as making several holographic appearances, and new fan art from ApexForm imagines the upcoming Disney Plus series following suit, as you can see below.
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Avengers: Endgame has already set the precedent for a holographic Tony Stark, so using Downey Jr. in a similar fashion would give Ironheart a major boost in star power and bring back the MCU’s most famous face without having to undo his death in the main timeline.