Could Taika Waititi Single-Handedly Pull Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man Back Into the MCU?

Avengers: Endgame saw Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have to say goodbye to one of their favorite actors: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.

But what if that film wasn’t the end for him in the MCU? As Marvel is set to unleash its Phase Four on the world, fans have swapped rumors about potential comebacks for several actors. There’s one man who may be able to bring Downey Jr. back to this particular franchise: Taika Waititi.

Let’s take a closer look at Iron Man’s arc in the MCU, Waititi’s role in the MCU, and whether Waititi can be the person to bring back Iron Man. 

Iron Man’s arc in the MCU

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. | Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Tony Stark is the first hero established in the MCU as the star of 2008’s Iron Man. Throughout the movies, Stark moves from being a self-absorbed, arrogant narcissist playboy billionaire to becoming someone trying to help humankind stay safe and improve.

Stark first realizes the impact his weapons have when they fall into the wrong hands and decides to swear off his ways as an arms dealer. 

Many of the MCU’s villains either have a direct issue with Stark or become disgruntled because of him, including: 

  • Iron Monger (aka Obadiah Stane)
  • Whiplash
  • Aldrich Killian
  • The Vulture
  • Mysterio
  • Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (two villains fed up with Stark Industries that later become heroes)

Ultimately, Stark trades his selfish lifestyle for one of selflessness and service. He sacrifices his own life to stop the murderous Thanos, paying the ultimate price to save the world and all the people in it.

After his final proclamation in Avengers: Endgame that “I am Iron Man,” Marvel fans watched as Stark quietly passed away. The film culminates in a funeral with all the MCU’s heroes honoring him. 

Taika Waititi’s role in the MCU

RELATED: What Is Robert Downey Jr. Doing Now That Iron Man Is Dead?

Waititi directed Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. While pretty much every MCU movie has been a hit with fans, this was probably one of the most critically acclaimed. It blended humor, pathos, and a compelling narrative arc for Thor.

The film was so well-received that Waititi will get an opportunity to direct yet another film: the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. In this entry, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster will inherit the mantle of Thor. 

In a cinematic universe chock-full of talent in front of and behind the camera, Waititi has established himself as one of the most talented creative minds involved. There’s no doubt fans would line up for anything he played a part of. So the question now is: what else can Waititi do for the MCU? One potential answer is that he could potentially bring back everyone’s favorite playboy billionaire philanthropist. 

Could Taika Waititi pull Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man back into the MCU? 

Rumors have swirled about a potential Chris Evans return to the MCU. In a Reddit thread discussing this, fans speculated on other potential returns. One fan brought up rumors (that Cinema Blend said was a troll job) that Waititi may pull Downey Jr. out of superhero retirement for another go as Stark, and another fan chimed in with their approval: 

“I’d love a Logan style Rdj payoff. i love drama. i want drama Taika style. I felt initially Taika didn’t do justice to the devastating emo trip Ragnarok should be. but Odin’s passing sequence hit me in the heart..”

Will this come to pass? It’s highly unlikely. Downey’s sendoff in Avengers: Endgame seemed too perfect to spoil with additional appearances. Stark’s story and arc have concluded with finality. Bringing him back would rob Endgame of some of its narrative importance.

Of course, Captain Marvel introduced the shapeshifting Skrulls to the MCU, so the chance for a Downey return to play a character who looks like Iron Man but isn’t him is also possible.