The MCU follows a plethora of characters, that’s kind of the point of it. But, if there were ever one singular main character of the Infinity Saga; it would be Tony Stark.

Tony himself would agree.

Let’s go through Tony’s entire MCU timeline.

Iron Man (2008)

The very first origin story, and first movie in general, of the MCU.

Tony Stark opens the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with Iron Man. Of course, this is an origin story and we get to see playboy, billionaire, philanthropist Tony Stark come into his role as Iron Man.

In Iron Man, we get introduced to a few key characters that persist throughout the rest of the MCU; Pepper Potts, James Rhodes (who was played by Terrence Howard at the time rather than Don Cheadle), and Happy Hogan.

Tony is very… Tony in this. And while he does go through some character development by the end of the film, he’s no where near where we eventually get to see him by the end of the saga.

Iron Man 2 (2009)

The third movie in Phase One, Iron Man 2 follows Tony as he learns that he’s dying.

His arc reactor is poisoning his body and he doesn’t know how to stop it. On top of that, the government is trying to take his Iron Man technology, considering it too dangerous to be in civilian hands. We also get to see the beginning of a trend when it comes to villains that vex Tony Stark; they usually have a personal issue with him.

This particular villain is accusing Tony of stealing his father’s technology. In fact, many of Tony’s villains are simply his consequences for his previous actions.

This movie is the first introduction of Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow, and the first official appearance of Nick Fury.

At the end of Iron Man 2, we see Nick Fury deny Tony to be a part of the Avengers Initiative. More specifically; Iron Man was accepted but Tony Stark was denied due to personality concerns.

This is something that will come back around later in the saga.

The Avengers (2012)

The first official Marvel team up picks up where we left off with each of our heroes. The Avengers released in 2012, which is after Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. At this point, most of our main heroes received solo origin story movies with Iron Man having received two.

Tony, specifically, has stepped fully into his role as Iron Man and is working on new projects using the advanced Iron Man technology. In The Avengers, we see Tony struggle with collaboration, specifically with Steve Rogers. It became clear why Fury had denied him to be a part of the Avengers Initiative; Tony doesn’t work well with others.

But, he does eventually change this about himself.

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Tony learns how to better work with his Avengers comrades and ends up saving New York. While all of the Avengers were fighting the chitauri (the creatures that Loki had enlisted to fight his battles for him), SHIELD decided that the best thing to do was nuke Manhattan.

Of course, this wouldn’t have fixed anything given that the wormhole that the creatures were coming from would have been left open. So, when the nuke was launched, Tony took it through the wormhole and into space, launching it into the chitauri ship, killing all of them on the ground instantly. Because the wormhole was actively being closed, Tony was almost trapped in space and almost died doing this.

Important information that sets up for the next Iron Man movie.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 is the direct sequel to The Avengers and follows Tony Stark as he tries to emotionally recover from the battle of New York.

While he’d fought villains before, he’d never had to face something this serious and dangerous. He was suffering from PTSD and has multiple trauma induced panic attacks throughout the movie. As a result, he throws himself completely in creating a stock pile of Iron Man suits and self isolates.

Eventually, he finds himself facing another villain; a terrorist this time who (again) has a personal vendetta against him.

He ends up far away from home, without any suits to help him, and completely cut off from JARVIS.

Iron Man 3 reminds us as an audience that Tony Stark is Iron Man, not the other way around. We see him confront the bad guys without his suit, creating technology and weapons out of common items.

Because he’s a genius and can do that.

His main motivation is saving Pepper (who’s he’s been in a relationship with since Iron Man 2) and avenging his best friend/bodyguard Happy, who was a victim of one of the terrorist attacks.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we follow the Avengers as they finally find Loki’s scepter.

In this, Tony Stark is still struggling with much of his trauma and PTSD from what happened in New York. He fears the coming of a villain that the Avengers won’t be strong enough to fight, fears that Wanda Maximoff manipulated into something bigger.

(Note: it’s heavily implied that Tony had a sort of premonition about Thanos, that he somehow knew Thanos was coming, even if he couldn’t articulate it or understand it fully. Thanos himself even confirms that he knew of Tony and that he, like Tony, was “burdened with knowledge” in Infinity War)

This fear caused Tony to create Ultron, with the help of Bruce Banner. Ultron who would be the main villain of this movie.

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Hence the name.

Much of Age of Ultron was centered around fear, all of the fears that the Avengers held about their respective lives.

At the end, Tony announces that he’s stepping away from the Avengers and will let Captain America handle them from now on.

Which obviously he doesn’t actually follow through on.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Now, while this was technically a Captain America movie, it’s definitely like an unofficial Avengers movie.

Putting Steve’s story arc to the side; let’s focus on Tony’s.

In Civil War, we see the peak of Tony’s PTSD and paranoia, now accompanied by guilt. After everything that occurred in Age of Ultron, Tony finds that he cannot simply step away from being an Avenger and a lot of that has to do with the guilt he feels.

Because of Ultron, an AI that Tony created, an entire country was destroyed. While the Avengers did their best to save as many people as they could, some people of course slipped through the cracks. At an event, Tony was approached by a woman whose son died in Sokovia during the incident with Ultron. Due to this, when the Secretary of State proposed the Sokovia Accords, Tony was on board.

The Accords would essentially limit the Avengers and only allow them to move with government approval. Half of the Avengers wanted to sign, the other half didn’t.

Tony spends most of Civil War trying to convince Steve to sign the Accords and trying to bring Bucky in for a terrorist attack. Towards the end of the movie, Tony discovers that Bucky killed his parents and Steve knew about it, but hid it from him. This permanently fractures the Avengers, as well as Steve and Tony’s relationship.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

In Homecoming, we don’t get to see too much of Tony, but he’s definitely there.

From what we understand through the lens of Peter Parker; Tony has sold the former Avengers tower and is moving all of the technology to a different Avengers compound. This indicates that while the Avengers as we knew it might have been over, Tony never intended for the team to permanently disband. Most likely he was planning on putting together a whole new lineup, starting with Peter.

(He also gets engaged to Pepper in this movie)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

During the ten year anniversary of Marvel Studios; Infinity War was released.

Of course, this is the beginning of the end of the Infinity Saga.

We watch as Tony goes into space in order to fight Thanos. They have a show down on Thanos’ home planet Titan alongside the Guardians of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man. During this is when Thanos acknowledges Tony, but decides to kill him. He is saved by Doctor Strange who gives up the Time Stone and tells Tony that it was the only way for them to win.

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Shortly after, Thanos snaps his fingers and Tony is stuck on Titan as his friends turn to dust on Earth. Though, he’s does witness Peter turn to dust.

Our last image of Tony is of him still on Titan with only Nebula left as a companion.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The end of Tony Stark’s story comes in Avengers: Endgame.

Five years after the incident with Thanos, half of all life in the universe gone, Tony moves on with his life. He marries Pepper, has a daughter named Morgan, and lives in a secluded lake house. He doesn’t speak to any of the living Avengers, though it’s clear that there’s no animosity towards them anymore.

Tony has gone through amazing character development by this point. Of course he’s always be cocky and arrogant, as that’s a part of his personality, but it isn’t to the point of character flaw anymore. And because the worst has already occurred, all of his worst fears realized, Tony isn’t shackled by his paranoia as much. He’s content to live his peaceful life and silently, but healthily, mourn those he’s lost.

Eventually, Steve, Natasha, and Scott Lang approach Tony with a way to bring everyone back. It’s something that they can only accomplish with Tony’s help, given that in order to do it they’d have to invent time travel.

Tony refuses at first, but later decides to see if he can come up with a formula that would work. Once he does, he and the other Avengers gather the Infinity Stones by time traveling and bring everyone back.

Of course, Thanos shows up again.

Tony sacrifices his life by using the Infinity Stones and snapping his fingers, erasing Thanos from existence.

The world mourns Tony and recognizes him as the hero that saved the universe.

MCU Rumors

Although Tony’s story ended and he is indeed dead, there have been rumors of Robert Downey Jr. coming back and reprising his role as Tony.

How? No one knows, nor do we know if it’s true, but there are rumors of many Avengers returning for the Multiverse Saga’s version of Endgame: Avengers: Secret Wars.

What’s your favorite Tony Stark moment? Which of these movies are your favorite?

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