It’s no exaggeration to say that Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of the best Spider-Man films so far. As far as box office returns go, the film has done exceptionally well. To be precise, it has surpassed previous billion-dollar successes like Avengers: Endgame, and Black Panther. Regarding storytelling, the film has made significant progress. They have done so by incorporating characters from previous Spider-Man films and advancing the Multiverse storyline that Loki started will be continued in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Its multiversal premise has a wide range of unforeseen consequences. Nonetheless, the film’s characters also do something quite interesting in this regard. No Way Home raises the bar in the way it resurrects characters who were previously thought to be long gone. Consequently, it also makes room for other departed heroes, such as RDJ as the (not quite so) Invincible Iron Man, to return to the public eye.
Characters from the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb Spider-Man films return in No Way Home. These characters include the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Electro. The original appearances of these characters all ended in death, either by glider, redemptive suicide, or electrocution. Rather than being abducted from their original settings, the characters in this film were simply plucked out of thin air before meeting their untimely ends. Their reappearance is still a significant change in the MCU, altering how death is viewed.
Comic book readers are well-versed in the phenomenon of long-dead protagonists and antagonists reappearing in unexpected ways. It’s rare for a character to die in a comic book for an extended period. However, the MCU has never had this kind of existential mutability. The MCU is experimenting with the idea of bringing back characters who were previously thought to be dead.
The MCU has experimented with resurrection in the past, and two specific entries in the canon best demonstrate this. This is even though No Way Home significantly expands on how death is treated.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the first robust example of a character being resurrected in the MCU. In The Avengers, Loki returned from the void of space after falling into it. However, the trickster god is no stranger to rising from the dead. In contrast, three different characters make appearances in The Winter Soldier, each in a unique way. There are several examples of this in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The most obvious is that Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, was brought back to life by Hydra science.
However, two other characters are brought back to life in the film. The death of Nick Fury in the first act of the film is revealed to be a ploy by the ultimate superspy to force his enemies to reveal themselves. This time around, Arnim Zola, the Red Skull’s stooge, returns as a living computer.
There are, however, three “deaths” in No Way Home that are all eventually reversed. However, they really do not work in the same way. The carried out established story arcs, which were likely present at the moment of their deaths. As an example, the apparent death of Fury serves as a foreshadowing of the character’s eventual resurrection. Furthermore, the deaths of these characters are never established as concrete, so their reappearance will not cause a backlash among fans.
Endgame had its fair share of resurrections as well, resurrecting half of the universe and dozens of heroes in the process. As a two-part saga, the deaths of these heroes and villains in Infinity War were clearly meant to be reversed. As a result, while the MCU has experimented with the resurrection of characters, it has only done so with those whose reappearances had already been planned.
The events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, on the other hand, change everything, allowing the reappearance of long-dead characters. On the one hand, the movie explains for the reappearance of deceased characters in the story. There are an infinite number of variations of beloved characters in the Multiverse. Using the Multiverse, Marvel’s creative team can easily “resurrect” some of their most beloved characters. Instead of resurrecting people from the dead, Marvel could use alternate universes to find characters that are similar.
No Way Home, on the other hand, tests the limits of what audiences will tolerate. Based on the film’s widespread critical and commercial success, viewers had no problem accepting that characters could simply return from death. There may explain for why the movie brings back villains that audiences previously thought to be dead, but it still does so. Actors like RDJ who are concerned about losing fan support by reappearing through an unearned character arc can look to Dafoe, Molina, and Foxx for inspiration.
Resurrecting fan-favorite heroes seems like an obvious first step for the MCU. Fans were introduced to Tony Stark as the first MCU hero. He has since appeared in ten of the franchise’s 27 films (eleven including his presence in Far From Home.)
It may seem counterproductive to bring back Stark, given how important his death was in bringing the Infinity Saga to a close. but there are a few ways to do so without undermining the significance of that moment. Through the Multiverse, fans could witness RDJ making a Marvel return back home. Movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which depict an infinite number of alternate realities in which the same characters can appear, could provide a vehicle for Tony Stark to make a comeback.
While it’s possible the character will take on an entirely new form, as with the rumored Iron Man cameo, it’s also possible that the version fans are used to will return. There is a good chance that Robert Downey Jr. will appear in a future film. Unconfirmed rumors about a Multiverse-based Avengers film, inspired by Marvel’s Secret Wars saga, have piqued the interest of many fans. It would serve as a fitting send-off for iconic characters like Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, who both died in the MCU. It has been a long-held desire of the Russo Brothers to adapt a story like this in the MCU, but Marvel Studios has yet to confirm this.
Even without taking advantage of the possibilities provided by the Multiverse, RDJ’s Marvel return with an emphasis on the story. This could happen sooner rather than later with upcoming series like Ironheart and Armor Wars. It is these series’ that focus on the technologies that Tony Stark developed during his time in the MCU. Ironheart appears to be a strong candidate for a cameo by RDJ. With an AI Tony Stark, Riri Williams is a heroic hero in the comic book’s source material. Without going so far as to undo RDJ’s death, this would be a very simple way to bring him back into the MCU. Stark could easily be reintroduced to the fold if this AI only appears as a voice-over or in a very brief cameo.
Tony Stark, played by Downey Jr., could appear in Armor Wars. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, is trying to recover Tony Stark’s technology in the new series. Because of this, it’s possible that RDJ will make a cameo. It’s possible that the theft of Stark’s technology will set off a holographic message from the afterlife. Alternatively, Rhodey reflecting on Stark’s legacy, could trigger a flashback featuring the Invincible Iron Man himself. Regardless of how, when, or even if RDJ has a Marvel return, No Way Home helps usher in that possibility. What happened in that film appears to be a significant shift in MCU culture. Furthermore, it is also a clear indication that fans are willing to accept resurrections as long as they serve the story.