The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often been criticized for its trend of character death fake-outs during the Infinity Saga. During a good chunk of the first three phases, the majority of heroes were left unscathed after world-altering battles with powerful enemies while most villains ultimately died in the end.
In the long list of MCU characters, Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury top the list of fake-out deaths, with some even joking that the two characters are immortal. This trend was established during Phase 2 films like Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
However, the first big character death happened during Avengers: Age of Ultron when Aaron Taylor Johnson's Quicksilver died at the hands of Ultron, and this essentially removed the perception that Marvel Studios is playing it safe in terms of handling character deaths.
In Phase 3, several heroes met their end, ranging from Yondu all the way to the franchise's biggest star: Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. As expected, the death of the poster boy of the MCU made fans wonder if he would return at some point in the future. However, it looks like one director is not on board with the idea.
JAMES GUNN'S SIDE ON TONY STARK'S RESURRECTION
When asked about the potential consequences of resurrecting dead characters in films or series, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn admitted that he does “worry” about that plot point.
The veteran MCU director explained that there’s a stark difference “between truly meaningful deaths & plot twist deaths where someone seems to die & then hasn't,” pointing out that if a filmmaker “milk[s] that death,” while referencing Tony Stark and Yondu, it will likely lead to a cheap storyline to bring those characters back.
The full tweet can be seen below.
IRON MAN NO MORE (FOR NOW)
In a world of talking raccoons, time-travel, and a fabricated sitcom reality within a suburban town, it's easy to dismiss the idea that death is forever in the MCU.
On the surface, Gunn's comment makes narrative sense, mainly due to the impact of the death of Stark and Yondu on the rest of the MCU. Yondu's demise propelled Peter Quill's story in a compelling way while Stark's exit effectively moved the MCU to a brand-new chapter.
By resurrecting these characters, it will negate the in-universe effects of their passing, and the years of build-up would not be worth it.
This isn't the first time that this particular issue was addressed within the context of the franchise either. Previously, Robert Downey Jr. bared that his return should be something that “has to be earned,” which means that he is not ruling out a possible comeback. While this should be treated as nothing but a tease, it provides a clear message that the character's comeback will only work if it makes sense, and it should not be done based purely on fan-service.
Regardless, Marvel Studios already proved that they have a plan in place for the foreseeable future. If ever they considered the idea of Iron Man returning in a future project, it's reasonable to assume that they will have a pretty good explanation of how it will be resolved.