One of Avengers: Endgame's most emotional moments came towards the end of the climactic final battle between the Avengers and Thanos, as Iron Man sacrificed his life to turn Thanos and his forces into dust. The death hit hard for many fans, as Iron Man was the hero that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, paving the way for 10 years of stories and characters. That's also why many have wondered if he will eventually return to the MCU in some way, whether in some sort of timeline maneuver or as an A.I. like he appeared as in the comics. The Russo Brothers were recently asked if bringing Tony Stark back would diminish that moment in Endgame during an appearance on the Reel Blend podcast, and for Anthony Russo, it really depends on how it is done.
"I mean lookit, certainly we've always said this and we believe this about stakes have to be real, and if they're not real, like the audience's emotional investment in the moment and in those characters in the narrative is only...is contingent upon them feeling like there's potential, there's something to be lost," Russo said.
"So in all of our storytelling, even though those Marvel movies a lot of the story was difficult, we wanted to commit very hard to that idea," Russo said. "So to answer your question, I think it would be in the context of that. It depends on how he was brought back. It depends on the storytelling, but it is certainly something that has to be earned. It's certainly something that would shock and surprise audiences, so 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."
If Marvel really wanted to they could certainly find a way to bring the character back, though it would be far easier if they followed the comics and just made him an A.I., designed by Stark in case he did pass away. That worked extremely well in the comics, especially as a mentor-like character to heroes like Ironheart, though it was also seen as a cheat to keep the character in the books without diminishing his death.
That was a mixed bag to be honest, as it didn't really feel as if he ever left since the A.I. was brought in relatively quickly after his death. It would be important then for the MCU's version to be gone awhile before coming back, because if handled in the right way you can still keep the impact of his death safe while also having one heck of an impact with his A.I. reveal.
Imagine if in a few years someone stumbles upon a cache in one of Stark's labs that somehow was missed previously, finding a device that can't be unlocked. Then in the next movie, you see someone introduced who can possibly hack it, followed by a big reveal at the end of the next Avengers film that has Tony's A.I. popping up from the device. The crowd would go nuts, and if you keep him away from the films long enough, that can be a reality and not diminish his death in the least.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things Marvel!