In its inaugural season of animated series on Disney+, Marvel Studios just broadcast the ninth and final episode of What If…?, which offered fans alternative endings to iconic stories from the Infinity Saga. In addition to bringing back many of the MCU’s experienced actors, this show also makes use of the opportunity to make some bold choices with regard to previous narrative elements in the MCU. A new T’Challa Star-Lord, Doctor Strange Supreme, and more appeared in the ninth episode of Marvel’s crossover series Guardians of the Multiverse.
The episode also introduced the stealth-suited Captain Peggy Carter. Events like a zombie apocalypse and the actual Age of Ultron caused many episodes to depict the horrific deaths of famous MCU heroes. Tony Stark, was the hero who kicked off the MCU over a decade ago. He was a frequent victim of similar tragedies. Fans were amused when the show’s chief writer joked about the fact that they hadn’t seen everything in the first season.
During an interview with EW, after reflecting on how many times Tony Stark died in Season 1, What If…? head writer A.C. Bradley teased an upcoming episode that was canceled due to COVID delays. Bradley stated that the Tony Stark and Gamora episode had to be axed because the production office in charge of it had to deal with some difficult pandemic-related problems. She was also overjoyed to announce that Tony had survived the whole episode. This is despite the fact that the previous eight entries had often predicted the MCU icon’s demise.
During Season 1, Tony Stark was killed four times by Hank Pym (in Episode 3), the Wasp (in Episode 5), Erik Killmonger (in Episode 6), and Ultron (Episode 8). Despite having gotten hate mail for half of the previous eight episodes, which brought to different harsh endings. Bradley smiled while noting that she and the crew “didn’t kill Tony horribly” in this edited episode.
“Yeah, due to the pandemic one of our core production houses was hit very hard, and could not finish animation on one of our episodes that were supposed to air earlier in the season. That episode featured Tony and Gamora. It was a lighter episode! We didn’t murder Tony horrifically in this one, I promise! Big spoiler. [ Laughs ] But I’m getting hate mail.”
Having just come off one of the most successful superhero movies in history with the Infinity Saga, Stark was doomed from the start of What If…? Disney+ will air this episode in Season 2 sometime after the Season 1 conclusion. This makes it Iron Man’s second appearance in the credits after that season’s end. Even though it’s apparent now, this was supposed to air before Tony and Gamora arrived on Nidavillir with the Infinity Gauntlet in their hands.
Fans were outraged almost every week when Tony met his death in four different ways. It was just as hurtful even when it was on an animated series that explored many alternate dimensions. As she did before, Bradley spoke about this subject in September. Here, she drew comparisons between Iron Man and Kenny from South Park. The latter being perished mercilessly many times in the last quarter-century.
Robert Downey Jr. has played the legendary hero for over an eleven-year period in the live-action MCU timeline. This is prior to Tony Stark’s universe-saving sacrifice with the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Endgame. It’s been fascinating to see the contrast between the gravity of that moment and the comedy of his end in What If…? over the last several weeks.