MCU: Iron Man Is Murdered In New Trailer for What If

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Iron Man Tony Stark What If death MCU

What If...? is set to showcase a wide array of alternate storylines set within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a good chunk of them involves bonkers ideas that essentially change the outlook of some well-established heroes and villains of the franchise. 

Several instances include Peggy Carter becoming a super-soldier known as Captain Carter, T'Challa as the new Star-Lord, and the MCU debut of Marvel Zombies. However, there are still other storylines that have yet to be unveiled from the show's marketing such as the heavily-teased installment revolving around Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury.

What If...? executive producer Brad Winderbaum already confirmed that Nick Fury's Big Week storyline from Phase 1 will be revisited in the animated series, but details on how it will be showcased are still being kept under wraps.

Despite that, head writer A.C. Bradley teased that Fury's episode will tackle the SHIELD director's hesitancy regarding the Avengers Initiative. 

Now, it seems that the mystery behind Nick Fury's What If...? debut has been resolved by a new promo.


The latest promo video for What If...? revealed a spoiler-heavy scene involving Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, it shows a dead Tony Stark alongside a surprised Natasha Romanoff and Nick Fury. 

Iron Man, Black Widow, Nick Fury
Marvel Studios

Another shot from the same promo shows Romanoff being arrested by SHIELD agents, seemingly hinting that the Russian spy was framed for Stark's death.

Natasha Romanoff, Nick Fury, SHIELD agents
Marvel Studios



Many would agree that the Avengers being murdered is an unexpected storyline to tackle, but this is the beauty of Marvel Studios' first animated venture, mainly due to the fact that it opens up many story possibilities.

Based on what's been revealed so far, it looks like Nick Fury's detective skills will be utilized even further in his upcoming What If...? episode.

During the original events of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark was injected with lithium dioxide by Natasha Romanoff to serve as an "easy fix" to cure him of palladium poisoning. Now, in this specific installment of What If...?, it seems likely that Romanoff's "cure" killed Stark instead, thus explaining why SHIELD agents arrested her. 

Clint Barton
Marvel Studios

Meanwhile, previous shots from the show's trailer also showed Nick Fury in New Mexico alongside SHIELD agents aiming their weapons at Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. It's possible that Barton shot Thor with an arrow, thus accidentally killing him in the process (to recap, he didn't do so during the events of 2011's Thor.)


Nick Fury, SHIELD agents
Marvel Studios

What If...? head writer A.C. Bradley already compared Nick Fury's Big Week episode to an "Agatha Christie" type of installment, and these latest connections could further amplify this notion due to its murder mystery vibe. 

It's reasonable to assume that someone is pulling the strings from behind to murder and imprison the original Avengers one by one. Given that the events of Fury's Big Week are closely tied to a time when Loki is present in the timeline, there's a good chance that the God of Mischief is the main culprit of the Avenger's downfall. 

However, one would question why he targeted every single one of them this early. It's possible that Loki was able to control someone other than Erik Selvig, and the notable candidate could be Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson

Coulson's involvement makes narrative sense, mainly because he is familiar with the Avengers Initiative. While Loki is monitoring Thor from Asgard, the God of Mischief could've sensed the presence of the Tesseract, thus leading to him controlling Coulson instead of Selvig.

By doing so, Loki would've been made aware of the Avengers and decided to eliminate them this early to avoid further conflict. Coulson could simply be a pawn to Loki's plans, with him sabotaging Romanoff's cure to Stark and Barton's bow and arrow. 

Nick Fury's upcoming What If...? episode is shaping up to be something that will turn fans into detectives as well, and this could be a good sign for the rest of the show's slate.

The first episode of What If...? is set to premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. 

- In This Article: What If...? (Season 2)
Release Date
December 22, 2023
Jeffrey Wright
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.