Let me just throw this straight out there: I absolutely love Pepper Potts.
I realize this is not the most popular opinion, but there's something ridiculous and totally incredible about Gwyneth Paltrow's embodiment of Tony Stark's right-hand woman that completely knocks it out of the park — which makes it all the more tragic that nobody else seems to appreciate Pepper, and that she's been more or less forgotten in the MCU since Iron Man 3.
The fact is, Iron Man is perhaps Marvel's most important hero. He's the original, the anchor of the MCU, arguably the main voice of reason in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), and easily the one with the strongest character arc across his solo movies and the Avengers outings. He wouldn't buy you shots — he'd get them on the house. He's Tony Stark, damn it!
And how did Tony Stark become the smart, dynamic, jaded but increasingly-relatable hero the world has come to love? With Virignia "Pepper" Potts at his side. Without Pepper, Iron Man is nothing.
That Civil War Bombshell
(Mild spoilers for 'Civil War' ahead)
At one juncture early in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), Tony fields a question from Steve about Pepper's whereabouts, alluding to a breakup as a result of Tony breaking his promise to stop creating A.I. and putting himself (or the world) in danger.
The absence of Pepper, so often the only person keeping him on the straight and narrow, seems to have contributed to both Tony's general sense of exhaustion, and his fundamental belief that the Avengers need to be put in check.
Does that mean Pepper's journey is done? Not if I had my way. Aside from the fact that she's been positioned since the beginning as the one constant in Tony's life, there's also a major story point from the Marvel Comics which has yet to play out on screen.
So Here's Why Iron Man 4 Has To Happen
Between 2008-12, the Pepper of the comics sporadically wore an armored suit designed specifically for her by Tony, and took the superhero alias Rescue. As you would expect, it was seriously badass.
As the name suggests, Potts gets some serious agency when she's out there saving the world. For a female character with such a presence in Iron Man's world, it feels like the logical next step that Rescue should come out to play, giving Pepper a chance to show her mettle outside of Stark Industries and the lab.
Rescue's arc in the MCU would have to deviate from the comics, seeing as her adventures on the page were heavily intertwined with Norman Osborn and a story in which J.A.R.V.I.S. develops feelings for Potts (whereas Civil War seemed to take steps toward J.A.R.V.I.S. and Wanda), but creating an all-new story wouldn't be difficult.
And above all else, it would just be damn good fun, and after the gravity of Civil War, fun feels like something Tony Stark could use a little bit of right now.