Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is officially finished. But as we enter into Phase 3, I can't help but think that there was a rather important thread seemingly left undone in the larger tapestry Marvel is weaving. What thread, you say? Ready for it? Drum roll please!
Tony Stark's Untold Story
Did anyone else notice the massive gap between Iron Man 3 and Age of Ultron? At the end of his last solo outing, with the snap of a finger we see Stark turn his suits into a fireworks display, get the arc reactor removed from his chest, and essentially (at least in my opinion) give up everything Iron Man related for the sake of Pepper Pots. At least that's what I was lead to believe. After all, when the credits rolled, it didn't say "Iron Man will return." It said "Tony Stark will return." This led me to the conclusion that Stark was essentially retiring as Iron Man for the foreseeable future. When the latest Avengers flick hit theaters, I knew we would see Iron Man. But I was also expecting some sort of explanation for why Stark had come out of retirement.
Now, if we know anything about Marvel Studios, we know that nothing is included or excluded unintentionally. We see a massive gap in the story of Stark, and it opens up a variety of things we may very well see as we enter into Phase Three of the MCU. Here are some places where Stark's story could be explored:
1. Captain America: Civil War
Stark gave up his suits, and he did it for a good reason. One would hope that he chose to take up the mantle of Iron Man again for an equally good reason. Could he have anticipated the coming conflict between him and Cap? Did he see a world in peril that just couldn't get along without Iron Man? Or did he and Pepper come to a mutual agreement where he only gets the suits on weekends? Whatever the case is, we are left in the dark as to why Tony has inexplicably re-assumed the mantle of Iron Man, but it is possible we could see the gap in Stark's narrative explored in Civil War.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
[The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027) will be the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. It has been long-rumored that Avengers both new and old will suit up to fight ultimate baddie, Thanos. I can almost picture Stark, a man who has a knack for flying himself into wormholes, stepping into the danger-filled waters for one last fight. Before he heads into battle, he looks into Pepper's eyes as they both recount the painful moment he went back on his promise and took up the mantle of Iron Man again. After a brief flashback, he could say something like, "I love you, darling, but right now, the world needs Iron Man more than it needs Tony Stark." Hopefully he doesn't use that lame of a line, but you get the point.
3. Iron Man 4
I realize this is very speculative, but we know Marvel is already busy planning Phase 4. Could another Iron Man film where we explore the gap in Stark's story come to fruition? Think about it for a moment. We still have yet to get an official look at Iron Man's arch nemesis, the Mandarin; the real one at least! All Hail the King strongly pointed to his existence, but why would they craft a story around a character they're never going to introduce in the MCU? If Marvel plans to continue to be faithful to the comics, Iron Man 4 is practically inevitable. I have mixed feelings about a fourth Iron Man film, but Downey Jr. could definitely pull it off, and I am sure there are enough fans out there that are hoping for the Iron Man franchise to redeem itself after the colossal missteps of Iron Man 3.