Despite Iron Man having been dead in the MCU since 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, new art depicts a loophole Marvel Studios could use to bring back the hero in the Ironheart series without undoing his noble sacrifice. As the MCU has fully delved into the multiverse, it’s no longer difficult to imagine how deceased characters can return. However, doing so risks undoing emotional deaths and character arcs. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was the face of the MCU for over a decade, so it’s understandable that many would like to see him return. However, that’s easier said than done.
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However, there are creative ways Iron Man could return to the MCU without ruining the impact of his death. Artist marvels.wolverine has taken to their Instagram page to share a slick piece of Ironheart fan art that imagines Tony Stark returning to the MCU as an AI hologram who presumably aids Riri as she develops her Stark-like suits and grows into the hero she has the potential to be.
Not much is yet known about the Ironheart series despite its completion of filming way back in 2022. However, it’s possible to look to the comics for a hint at what Riri William’s small-screen debut might entail. After the prodigy had to leave her latest and most advanced suit of armor in Wakanda following the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it seems likely that part of the show’s plot will revolve around her trying to reproduce her work without the help of Wakandan tech. It’s there that Stark could re-appear in spirit.
In Marvel Comics, Riri Williams takes up the mantle of Ironheart while Tony is in a coma following the “Civil War 2” storyline. During that time, an AI version of Stark aids the young hero as she grows and learns. It’s not hard to imagine that, at some point, the snarky and often egotistical Stark may have created an AI in his own image (besides the disaster that was Ultron). While including a digital Tony may overshadow Riri if he’s a mainstay throughout Ironheart, he could easily pop up for a few fun scenes.