Some fans of the Marvel cinematic universe are now pressuring the studio to revive Iron Man. The podcast from Barstool Lights, camera, bar stool shared a photo on Twitter of a recently posted billboard in Los Angeles. Styled like a quintessential Marvel logo, the text reads “For our beloved hero, please bring back Tony Stark.”
The billboard also includes a hashtag, #BringBackTonyStarkToLife. While the fans who put up the billboard could use a better text editor, their plea is clearly sincere and thoughtful. Despite this, Marvel is unlikely to honor the request, and a majority of their fans would prefer the studio to leave Tony Stark as it is.
The Legend of Tony Stark
Marvel started their cinematic universe in 2008 Iron Man. The film was a huge success and was the foundation on which Marvel’s dominating machine now stands. It also single-handedly features the career of Robert Downey Jr. revived and made him a global superstar.
Since 2008, the Marvel universe has expanded enormously and now includes more than twenty different films. Tony Stark from Robert Downey Jr. appeared in nine of those movies. He was without a doubt the most popular character and actor in the Marvel universe. He was so vital to Marvel’s success that they gave him 8% of the profits for his last movie, Avengers: Endgame.
The dramatic conclusion to Marvel’s “Infinity Saga” saw Tony Stark sacrifice himself to defeat Thanos and save not just the world, but the entire universe. His death is the most emotional moment in Marvel’s cinematic canon. In an instant, Tony Stark prevented the deaths of billions and forever changed the direction of Marvel’s movies ahead.
Why bring him back?
Tony Stark’s departure from Marvel may have been portrayed epically, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. Many Marvel fans see Tony Stark and Robert Downey Jr. along with him as the essential heart of the entire Marvel cinematic universe. They are not wrong.
Iron Man started Marvel’s ambitious project and the character Iron Man became the glue that brought all the movies together. He was the first superhero to be accepted (and rejected) by the Avengers. His actions dictated the plot for it Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was also the point of origin for that Civil war and Marvel’s Spider Man movies.
The fans behind the LA billboard just can’t imagine how Marvel movies could work without Tony Stark at the center of them all. They are not enthusiastic about the possibilities of new stories and new characters. They just want to see the character who made them fall in love with Marvel’s cinematic universe return to it.
Marvel has not yet directly addressed the concerns of these particular fans. That didn’t stop other Marvel fans from expressing their thoughts on the # BringBackTonyStarkToLife campaign online. Most sympathize with the impulse behind the billboard, but recognize that their request should never be granted.
If Marvel brings Tony back to life, they’ll essentially be the last twenty minutes of the Avengers: Endgame movie. That means some of the most powerful scenes in the entire Marvel cinematic universe will take the emotion out. Tony’s sacrifice would make less sense, just like post-Endgame Marvel entries dealing with the fallout from his death.
One of the biggest criticisms of the Marvel cinematic universe is that it’s rarely really on the line. The world may be under attack by monstrous aliens, but everyone knows the Avengers will make it in the end. Tony’s death adds weight and emotional depth to the Marvel universe that it otherwise lacks.
Marvel knows all this, and they are probably smart enough to keep Tony’s sacrifice intact. A more practical concern for the studio is the financial cost to Robert Downey Jr. to return. He’s the highest-paid Marvel star, earning his co-stars even in movies that aren’t centered around his character.
By keeping Tony Stark dead, Marvel keeps some stakes in their universe and saves a pretty penny. As disappointing as it may be to some fans, that’s an easy math for a movie studio. Anyone who misses their favorite superhero can do it Iron Man movies.
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