Love & Thunder secretly kills all theories about Iron Man’s return

In Thor 4, Gorr the God Butcher wishes his daughter Love’s life back – but it actually goes to show that even eternity won’t bring Tony Stark back.

Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Thor: Love and Thunder.

Gorr’s daughter Love, who is brought back to the through eternity Thor: Love and Thunder ends, subtly killing any chance of resurrecting Tony Stark as fans know and love him. Indeed, the existence of the godlike Love, a potential young Avenger, rules out any possibility that any of the original Avengers who died can return. As Thor: Love and Thunder shows, wishing someone back from death is never easy.

The endless theories about the return of dead heroes stem from the fact that death has always been a fickle mistress in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Famously, after the Thanos Infinity Gauntlet snap, both Hulk and Tony took their own Nano Gauntlet snaps to undo what Thanos had done and brought back Doctor Strange, Yelena, Spider-Man and literally billions more. Meanwhile, Stephen Strange’s ex-girlfriend, Christine, who is doomed to die in some realities, exists in an alternate universe in Doctor Strange 2. Because of this, many viewers believe that Tony Stark and Natasha Romanov can still return and that Jane’s death is near gate 4 is likely temporary. Finally, in the MCU, places like Valhalla, Heaven, Hell and other concepts of the afterlife can be visited, and the cosmic beings who rule over death accept deals, bargains and the occasional defeat. Whether in space or elsewhere in the multiverse, Tony, Nat, and even Thanos must still exist somehow.


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That said gate 4‘s Love Resurrected is proof that even in the fantastical storylines of MCU Phase 4, Eternity has its limits. While Gorr uses his one wish to bring back love, it’s no longer really her, but an embodiment of eternity that looks and acts like love but has god-like powers. Given Gorr’s disdain for the gods, it was unlikely that love empowered was part of Gorr’s desire, but Eternity’s Djinn-like twist – Earth-199999 itself restored the balance after Gorr’s genocide. If Eternity itself couldn’t simply bring back Gorr the God Butcher’s daughter and turned her into Thor’s daughter instead, then there’s nothing that could possibly bring the original Natasha and Tony back from their deaths – not without a similar twist, which they essentially did would make completely different characters. Iron Man’s or Black Widow’s return would have to be via multiverse variants, or they could more literally return from the afterlife like Jane and Heimdall of Valhalla could do.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man can never return from the dead

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Avengers Endgame

Unfortunately for many MCU devotees, Tony coming back from the dead as himself doesn’t make sense, both from a narrative perspective and considering the MCU’s universal rules. As Doctor Strange explained, in Infinity War’s millions of possible outcomes, the only timeline where Earth wins is due to Tony’s death and sacrifice. Unlike many in the Thor: Love and Thunder Cast, Tony Stark is no god, but despite not being born connected to a prophecy, Tony worked on his own destiny and legacy to get to that final shining moment Avengers: Endgame. It’s never explicitly said, but given the circumstances under which Tony dies, his death is likely to be a specific point in time, a key knot in the Sacred Timeline. If someone were to take on the task of bringing Tony Stark back, they might have to go through a variant of Kang the Conqueror or deal with Death.

Even though Thor: Love and Thunder Proving that Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark can never truly rise from the dead, no one really knows how many variants of Iron Man actually exist throughout the multiverse. Around that time gate 5 is released, one or more of these Iron Man variants could finally make their MCU debut. Robert Downey Jr.’s version of Tony will never be replaced because, beyond his charisma and heroic sacrifices, the MCU’s Tony Stark has one of the most complete and perfected storylines in the history of the superhero genre. Because of this, theories about Tony’s return are unlikely to bear fruit. As MCU Phase 4 opens up to the multiverse, the theory of Tom Cruise entering the MCU as Tony Stark from an alternate universe becomes more realistic with each new Marvel film.

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