Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of every cinematic story told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last decade - a path that began with Iron Man and Iron Man 2. The latter film famously hinged on a story about how Tony Stark's revelation that he's Iron Man starts a new kind of international arms race to replicate the Iron Man tech, with shady industrialist Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) leading that charge.
During the infamous Senate hearing sequence of Iron Man 2, Tony is pulled into Washington to answer whether his Iron Man tech is a threat to national security. Secret HYDRA agent Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) tries to discredit Stark by surprising him with an appearance from Rhodey, who bring a video montage of various groups around the world who are seemingly close to replicating the Iron Man armor.
Tony quickly hijacks the presentation, using his own tech to play out the video footage so that everyone sees just how spectacularly all the Iron Man bootleg tech fails - especially the Hammer Industries suit, in which abdominal section twists completely backwards, severely injuring the pilot. According to Tony, the video is actually proof that any competitors are black market industrialists are still ten years away from replicating his Iron Man tech - which is a deadline that will be arriving just around the time Avengers: Infinity War takes place!
The question here is: could Justin Hammer soon have reason to make a big return to the MCU?
It's hard to imagine that an industrialist on the scale of Hammer just quit and retired after his big disgraceful defeat in Iron Man 2. We know the shady industrialist has still been hard at work trying to turn the evolving world of superheroes into personal profit: it's Hammer Industries that reverse-engineers the Chitauri tech after the Avengers' Battle of New York, creating hi-grade weapons like "The Judas Bullet," which Harlem crime lord Diamondback sells (and uses) during the events of Luke Cage season 1. With Spider-Man: Homecoming demonstrating how the Chitauri tech has created a new arms race all over the MCU, it's easy to surmise that Hammer could have something terrible in store - possibly finally perfect an armor of his very own.
"Armor Wars" was very famous storyline from Iron Man comics, in which Tony Stark tries to neutralize any and every Marvel baddie that uses a suit based on his tech; after Infinity War, it's easy to see what that story arc could be all-too-relevant to the MCU, and how Hammer would be at the forefront of it.
No Throwaway Lines
Finally, if you haven't seen for yourself by now: nothing in the MCU is said or done in a frivolous or meaningful way. Just looking at that Iron Man 2 senate scene now, we have all kinds of new frame of reference to how the scene ties into larger MCU:
- Senator Stern is undermining Tony in part because he's HYDRA. Hammer may have even been in league with the evil organization.
- Rhodey seeing the video of injured people in knock-off Iron Man suits foreshadows his own eventual injury in the War Machine armor.
- Even that Hammer Industries clip of the armor twisting around at the abdomen is significant: Hammer assures the senators and viewers that his pilot survived that test - and we know he did, as that was the same man doctor Stephen Strange was considering operating on, just before he got into his life-changing car accident!
That's all to say: If Tony made the claim that it would take ten years before we saw legit Iron Man copies start showing up in the MCU, then you can fairly bet that foreshadow will come to light. How it does, remains to be seen. If Tony Stark doesn't survive the Infinity War, then that would be all the opening Hammer would need...