After the climactic events of Captain America: Civil War, the road to the future has gotten a lot more complicated for Tony Stark. Gone is the freewheeling billionaire philanthropist playboy that got by with a grin and an idea, and in his place is a man who has suffered great betrayal and emotional distress. With his relationship involving Pepper Potts being "on a break," and his mounting sense of guilt, Tony seems to be at a crossroads at the moment.
While this uncertainty is murder on his personal life, it does give Joe and Anthony Russo options as to where Mr. Stark will end up in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Out of the infinite possibilities, we’ve singled out five that make the most sense, and ranked them in likelihood from most to least likely. Join us now, as we delve into five of Tony Stark’s possible futures as Iron Man.
A Mentor To Peter ParkerThe most obvious, and the most likely, path that we’ll be seeing Tony Stark take is that of a mentor to Peter Parker. With Robert Downey Jr. being confirmed as reprising his role in Spider Man: Homecoming, and their chemistry already proven to be a worthy placeholder for the Science Bro pairing of Stark and Bruce Banner, the easiest route to put Tony on would be that of the teacher. It would also be the most cathartic path for Tony to follow, as his lack of a relationship with his own father could help him become a father figure to the young inventor who’s also suffered a devastating loss. If treated the right way, this relationship could lead Tony back from the brink he's been teetering on, preparing him for the events of The Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1.
A Legitimate Team Leader To The AvengersAt the end of Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers writes a sort of will and testament to Tony, bequeathing him The Avengers. Though his past behavior has indicated that the last thing Mr. Stark would want is more responsibility, the newer, more introspective Iron Man would want to protect those he still has in his corner. Which means that, in true Tony Stark fashion, he could take the reins and start calling the shots – becoming an effective leader of the post-Sokovia Accords fallout line-up of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers. The last couple of appearances Stark has made in the MCU could support such a change, and considering how comparatively well-behaved Tony has been, it would make sense.
Stuck In Neutral, Needing A New ThreatOut of all of the possible futures Tony Stark could have, we have to admit that this one could be the funniest. Facing down your own former compatriots is pretty much the biggest challenge a superhero could face, besides any gigantic, purple tinted menaces that might be lurking among the stars, of course. So until that big, new threat shows up, there’s a chance that Tony might get a little bored with his work, and in need of some sort of relief from the tedium of foiling yet another dissident that wants to knock over a bank or steal precious information in the name of compromising national security. We've seen Tony bored before, and if his past is any indication, you can expect a lot of donuts being eaten and suits being built, should this be the path he starts walking.
A Total Basket CaseOf course, not all of the fallout from Captain America: Civil War, and of course The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, leads to the warm, fuzzy feelings that The Avengers might have left Tony with. In fact, it seems that any sort of healing Tony may have been experiencing after his encounter with an interdimensional portal may have been stunted by the events of Sokovia crashing to the ground. Even his reaction to Alfre Woodard’s Miriam telling him that the blood of her son’s death is on his hands was enough to send him into an over-reactive panic that caused his support of the Sokovia Accords. Now more than ever, with his grasp tightening and his losses growing ever higher, there’s a good chance that Tony Stark could lose his mind completely, and in a move comic fans have been hoping for since Iron Man 2, become a full-fledged alcoholic, fulfilling the "Demon In A Bottle" storyline. Or, even worse, he could mentally shut down and become a Howard Hughes-esque hermit.
A Bloodthirsty Vengeance SeekerThe worst scenario that Tony Stark could find himself a party to is if he felt so broken and betrayed by the revelations of Captain America: Civil War that he decided to dedicate himself to the pursuit of vengeance. Considering The Punisher already covers this beat, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has mostly sworn off of any R-rated feature films in their canon, this is the least likely scenario we’ll see Robert Downey Jr. encounter in his tenure as Iron Man. Still, we can’t help but imagine what it would be like if Tony Stark went all Death Wish on his enemies, leaving a trail of bodies wherever he shows up. If only Shane Black could have somehow convince the powers that be that this would a worthy candidate for Iron Man 4.