Seeing Iron Man’s journey end in sacrifice was more than enough for us to respect how the Marvel movies have treated his character, but we can’t help but feel like death has been somewhat watered down since. This is thanks to a trend that has always existed in comic books but only recently began to make its way into the movies. And now Moon Knight has made it possible with Iron Man.
Death has never actually had to be the definitive end for a character in the comics because certain heroes tend to sell better. Therefore, we’ve seen characters return with the power of time travel, the use of doppelgangers, retconning and whatever desperate methods exist for the sake of fanfare. Now it’s happening in the Marvel films too.
The biggest complication to Iron Man’s death might have come with a reveal in Disney+’s Moon Knight TV show (episode 5) where we found out about the afterlife and its accessibility to certain characters in that realm. We learnt that sometime after their deaths, it might be possible for iconic Marvel characters, like Iron Man, to make a return — or at least be reached.
In Moon Knight, we are introduced to gods like Taweret and Khonshu through Marc/Steven who could potentially use mystical abilities to meet with Tony Stark’s soul and give us a glimpse into what his afterlife is like — whether he is in the traditional Heaven or in Astral Plane or even Valhalla.
That said, the irreversible quality of Iron Man’s death made his sacrifice valuable. Removing that makes his death feel less important. Having him show up again (even as a spiritual being or ghost) makes his death feel less permanent.
Tony is a character that has always seemed to be self-indulgent, even when his actions aligned with the good side of the moral compass. That’s what makes his death, and the lack of any real last words for his comrades so heartfelt. Tony already gave us everything his character needed with the snap. Seeing him relaxing in a cornfield or cloud in the afterlife just doesn’t seem to fit with the image presented.
Basically, this reveal opens up the question of whether or not finding him or his spirit in the afterlife could also mean Tony Stark returning to the MCU again. They found a way in Endgame. Could they do it again? Probably. It’s a comic book movie after all.
Of course, the upside to all of this is that the new revelation about death and the afterlife opens up many new possibilities within the MCU.
Tell us, do you want Iron Man’s death to be final?