8 Critical Iron Man Choices That Would Have Totally Changed The MCU

As the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man has been one of the most influential characters in the franchise. He made several critical decisions that shaped the universe. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was a prominent member of the Avengers despite almost not making the roster. While he wasn’t the most powerful hero in the MCU, he was intrinsic in each of the Avengers’ missions, including their biggest one fighting Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

Marvel Studios capped off the Infinity Saga with the demise of Tony Stark after he sacrificed himself to ensure a future free from Thanos. Iron Man’s Avengers: Endgame death perfectly marked the end of an era for the MCU as it coincided with the passing of its inaugural hero. Despite that, however, Stark continues to have an impact on the franchise’s future, with Iron Man’s legacy still shaping some aspects of the Multiverse Saga. This emphasizes just how integral the genius, billionaire Avenger was in the MCU. So it shouldn’t be surprising that some of his personal decisions had big ramifications for the bigger universe that he belonged to.

Tony Stark Choosing To Reveal Himself As Iron Man

It’s an understatement to say that Jon Favreau’s Iron Man rewrote the comic book movie genre. Aside from laying the groundwork for the MCU, it also broke so many of the pre-established rules when it came to making movies about superheroes. That includes destroying the secret identity trope when Stark brazenly declared “I am Iron Man” — a signature line that also became his final battle cry in Avengers: Endgame. With Stark’s superhero persona out in the open, the MCU was able to break free of the tired narrative trick with many of the succeeding Marvel heroes openly known for both their public and private personas.

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Iron Man’s Decision To Risk His Life In The Avengers

the battle of new york is iron man's most important mcu moment robert downey jr. what changed him

On the heels of his superhero confession, Nick Fury recruited Stark to be part of the Avengers Initiative. The threat brought by Loki’s attempt to take over Earth roped Iron Man back into the team in 2012’s The Avengers. Iron Man played a leading role in the narrative. His decision to sacrifice himself at the end of The Avengers‘ Battle of New York cemented his hero status in the MCU, but it also set him down a long path toward eventually facing Thanos. Had it not been for his decision, he wouldn’t have sensed that there was a bigger threat out there in the cosmos.

Iron Man’s Decision To Make Ultron

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Motivated by the threat he sensed at the end of The Avengers and further traumatized by the Scarlet Witch-induced vision at the start of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man decided to create Ultron. The A.I. project-gone-wrong part of Stark’s global defense program was supposed to help safeguard Earth against any extraterrestrial attack. The unexpectedly sentient robot turned against its creator and posed a massive threat that resulted in the destruction of Sokovia. The incident played a part in the institution of the Sokovia Accords. Had Iron Man not built Ultron, the events of Captain America: Civil War may have not happened.

Iron Man Siding With The Sokovia Accords

Captain America: Civil War - Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans

On the heels of what happened to Sokovia and the incident in Lagos, United Nations introduced the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War mandating all enhanced beings to be registered. Captain America, marred by what happened in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opposed it. Motivated by wanting to keep the team together in light of the threat that was coming, Iron Man, supported it. Sadly, they couldn’t find a compromise, forcing the Avengers to choose sides. Had they been on the same page, the Avengers wouldn’t have broken up and left Earth at its most vulnerable, offering Thanos the perfect opportunity to attack in Avengers: Infinity War.

Iron Man Recruiting Spider-Man

Peter Parker looking confused in Captain America: Civil War

Iron Man’s conflict with Captain America allowed the franchise to introduce Spider-Man into the MCU after Marvel Studios and Sony reached a deal to share the character. In Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man recruited Peter Parker to Team Iron Man as they geared up for a fight with Team Cap in Germany. As the Infinity Saga progressed, Stark and Parker’s would be one of the most important relationships in the MCU. While being associated with Iron Man had its many ups (and downs) for the web-slinger, one cannot discount how big of an impact the web-slinging spider had on the Avenger’s arc.

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Iron Man Choosing To Go To Titan

Avengers Infinity War Thanos Iron Man Titan

Two years after the break-up of the Avengers, Iron Man’s long-anticipated threat on Earth finally happened when Thanos sent his minions to collect the Mind and Time Stone. Instead of rounding up Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, however, he decided that the best strategy is to bring the fight to the villain in Titan. There were many reasons why the Avengers lost to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, but it’s possible that had he decided to stay on Earth and re-connect with Captain America and the rest, they could have had a much better chance at defeating the purple alien.

Iron Man Deciding To Join The Time Heist

Iron Man prepares to time travel in Avengers: Endgame

Thanos’ Decimation in Avengers: Infinity War was random, and Iron Man got lucky because everyone important to him was spared — except for Spider-Man. This gave Stark five years of full family bliss as he built a life with Pepper Potts and their daughter Morgan. He initially refused to join the proposed time heist, but motivated by guilt and his love for Peter Parker, Iron Man cracked time travel that allowed them to undo the snap. Aside from its wider universe benefits, going back in time and meeting his father also gave Stark that closure he needed with how their relationship panned out.

Iron Man Choosing To Sacrifice Himself In Endgame

Iron Man snaps his fingers wearing his version of the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Endgame

After the Avengers reversed the snap in Avengers: Endgame, they were faced with a more ruthless Thanos who not only wanted to execute the Decimation but wipe out the whole universe and start from scratch instead. Not wanting to risk it, Iron Man decided to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Tragic as it may, it perfectly capped off his MCU arc and highlighted just how much he’d grown since starting as a self-centered, war-profiteering billionaire in 2008’s Iron Man. The genius, billionaire may be gone, but Iron Man’s legacy continues to shape the MCU in more ways than one.

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