I don’t usually make a huge deal out of how much I love the Marvel films. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Black Widow … I think maybe I’ve posted one thing here and there on my Facebook. The most recent posts having come from just seeing the latest film, Avengers: Endgame. But rest assured, I am a HUGE fan of these films, and (like I tend to do way too much) I am also deeply invested in the characters.
Therefore, I’m about to go Marvel geek on everyone. I blame this on my being a writer who thinks of every possible scenario before I actually see a film. I attempt to work out every way a story could go, leading up to an absolutely epic ending (because we all knew Avengers: Endgame HAD to have an epic ending).
So, before I begin this post, be forewarned there are major spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen Endgame (which I can’t imagine there’s anyone who’s a major fan out there who hasn’t yet), don’t read on. If you haven’t seen it and don’t care about spoilers, then please, do continue. 😉
Please keep in mind these are my thoughts purely as a viewer of the films. I have never read the comics and do not know what they did or did not change. These are my observations of the films one by one as they were released without any knowledge of how the comics played out.
I am going to talk about the very big thing that happened at the end of Endgame. At least, this was huge for me. Yes, my friends, this post is about Tony Stark. How could it not be? I am now going to put something to you that may or may not be true, but that I couldn’t help thinking about in the days following seeing the last Avengers movie (again, my writer’s mind at work here).
After I walked away from the theater, it occurred to me that while I didn’t see Tony’s death coming at the end, I should have. I realized, the Marvel films may have been preparing us for Tony’s death all along. Let’s look back on how many times Tony Stark cheated death.
In Iron Man (2008), before he even became a beloved super hero, he was fatally wounded and, by all accounts, should’ve died. Yet somehow, he ended up a prisoner with a man who planted a device in his chest to keep the shrapnel from entering his heart and killing him. What are the odds?
In Iron Man 2 (2010), we discover that the device created in the first film to save him, is now actually killing him. He should die by the end of the film, leaving us with no Tony Stark and completely heartbroken. But then, when there seems to be no hope of saving our favorite hero (or my favorite hero, depending on who yours is), boom! Tony discovers the key to his survival was right in front of him all along. He invents a new device and lives.
In The Avengers (2012), Tony comes together with a team of our heroes to defend New York City when Thor’s brother, Loki, attacks. In a last effort to save the city and all the innocent people still there, he flies a missile INTO SPACE and JUST makes it back through the portal before it closes. Even then, he appears quite dead when Hulk puts him on the ground after catching him, reviving only after a few heart-stopping moments and, in typical Tony fashion, then suggests they should all go to a Shawarma restaurant.
In Iron Man 3 (2013), Tony deals with some major PTSD from the events in The Avengers (2012). His fear of losing Pepper completely outweighs any fears he has for himself, leading him into even more dangerous waters. Tony does reveal in this film that he will do ANYTHING for the people he loves, bringing our hero to an ultimate character arc. There were a few moments in this film when I really believed this would be the end of our hero, but lo and behold he lives! This gave me the illusion that he would survive everything yet to come.
In Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Tony battles Thanos on a planet far, far from home. He gets the crap beat out of him by our villain and definitely loses this fight. Thanos is completely prepared to kill him, until Doctor Strange steps in, trading the Time Stone for Tony’s life. And of course (SPOILER) …
We now know this is because Strange had seen the ONE in FOURTEEN MILLION that they win this fight and it required Tony to die.
There were TWO more things that should’ve warned us Tony’s death was coming. The first one was Pepper’s presence at the battle. Come on. How many times has Pepper stepped up to fight with the Avengers? Um … never. So why would Doctor Strange bring her through one of his portals for the final battle against Thanos? Why would he think to himself, “I better go get Pepper Potts!”? Well, of course, because he knew Tony would need her at the end. At the time, this didn’t occur to me. I didn’t really think much of her appearance, or of how they made a point to let us know she was there.
The last warning came right before he died in Avengers: Endgame (2019). When Doctor Strange returns from the dead and Tony asks him if this is the ONE where they win, Doctor Strange looks at him pointedly and says,
“If I tell you, then it won’t happen.” (Not sure if that is the exact quote, but close enough ;)).
This should’ve been a BIG implication for us. But it wasn’t for me. Maybe because I really, really, REALLY didn’t want Tony Stark to die.
Everything depended on Tony taking those stones to save the world, which would certainly cost him his life. If he knew about it ahead of time, he would’ve been going over and over in his mind the different ways he possibly could manage to save the world and survive, for Pepper and Morgan’s sake. This would’ve probably made him hesitate when he needed to act, which would’ve cost the world EVERYTHING. Not knowing meant he had to make a split second decision to save the world, which he did. Because that was always who Tony was.
If he had time to think about things, he often made mistakes. Like in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). While Vision became an ally (the good thing that came out of this movie), creating Ultron, on the other hand, was a huge mistake and caused our heroes a lot of problems. But when Tony would simply be impulsive, acting on what was in his heart not his head, things always seemed to work out well (for the most part).
Watching and re-watching these movies has made me wonder if the writers intentionally weaved Tony’s destiny into the films, or if it simply came together that way by the end. Or maybe I’d just like to think this was all planned out from the beginning, giving viewers something to think about when they go back to watch the movies again. I just found it interesting that Tony survived so many things he shouldn’t have, only to make the ultimate sacrifice at the very end.
Well, not only … BECAUSE he HAD to make the ultimate sacrifice at the end. That’s why Doctor Strange willingly gave up the Time Stone. Because it wasn’t like someone else could’ve stepped in to do it. It HAD to be Tony.
So if you tie in all the other movies where Tony almost dies, but then didn’t, you can kind of put yourself in the mindset that it was because of THIS. This final act.
There. I’m done now. My two cents (or twenty) on the page. Funny, I realized I wouldn’t be able to let this go until I got it down in writing. This has always been the best way I can express myself. I mean writing is, after all, what I do. 😉