Iron Man 4 Would Have Been "One Too Many" According To Avengers Endgame Writers
"You would’ve already had Iron Man 4 if it was any other studio."
(This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame).
Avengers: Endgame was a phenomenon when it released in cinemas earlier this year, earning strong reviews and ultimately becoming the highest grossing film of all time. It brought in $2,797,800,564 at the global box office, and generally pleased fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vanity Fair has an interview with the film's writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who also wrote Avengers: Infinity War, as well as the Captain America trilogy and Thor: The Dark World, discussing the film's success and the paths Marvel avoided. They believe that part of the franchise's success has come from avoiding easy hits, like Iron Man 4, if they don't serve long-term storytelling goals.
As anyone who has seen Avengers: Endgame knows (and if you haven't, now's your last chance to look away), thwarting Thanos' plan ultimately results in the death of Tony Stark. According to the pair, planning began around the time of Captain America: Civil War, which made Tony Stark a major secondary character. McFeely believes that Marvel has built up a lot of goodwill by allowing the films to go in unexpected directions: "whether you like all of the 24 movies or not, the capital that Marvel built up allowed them to do things like make a movie starring a raccoon and a tree, right?" He also believes that "you would’ve already had Iron Man 4 if it was any other studio," but that Marvel Studios decided to "take chances on all these other things" instead.
Markus believes that the death of Tony Stark "legitimizes the whole thing," and that to "have it add up to something and have it end, that's what stories are about." While keeping Tony alive for more movies would have no doubt been profitable, he argues, it would have harmed the franchise. "If Tony made it out the other side, and Iron Man 4 was waiting there, you’d be like, [shakes head] One too many..."
McFeely notes that Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Tony Stark both get very different arcs across the third phase of the MCU, both of which culminate in their characters exiting after Endgame, but only Rogers can survive. "We realized at one point, late in 2015, that for Steve to be his best self, he was going to have to get a life, and for Tony to be his best self, he might have to lose his." Markus adds that Rogers "can’t die in this movie, because he was willing to die in the first one. That’s not a journey."
Avengers: Endgame is available on Disney+.
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