Even a few years after the premiere of Avengers: Endgame (2019), the death of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) remains one of the most memorable and traumatic events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Iron Man was the one who built the MCU, and his story’s end honored all of that legacy in a sacrifice for humanity. The death of a character on that level was truly remarkable for the movies, but it often happens in the comics.
In Marvel Comics, Iron Man died quite tragically – he was actually murdered at the hands of Captain America. The incident occurred in the “Time Runs Out” arc, written by Jonathan Hickman, originally published between 2013 and 2015.
In the plot, Marvel’s heroes come into conflict after Steve Rogers declares Iron Man and the Illuminati to be enemies.
Earths from parallel realities were mysteriously colliding (in so-called Incursions) and destroying each other, caused by a disturbance in the Multiverse.
To prevent the collapse, Tony Stark got together with Reed Richards and other geniuses. The solution they came up with to buy time was drastic: destroy parallel Earths so they would not intersect with their own, leaving Rogers and other heroes furious.
This civil war scenario expanded, with various alliances being formed, in a fight that included Doctor Strange, the Black Panther, Sue Storm, and even a new Avengers team, led by the Sunspot.
As the arc’s name suggests, there was no solution to the final Incursion, where Marvel’s mainstream Earth would be invaded and destroyed by its Ultimate version. Tony Stark was one of the few who knew that problem was inevitable.
During the final issues, published in the US in 2015, Steve Rogers accepted the destruction of his reality but wanted to make sure that Iron Man dealt with the consequences, as he thought he was to blame for the event.
In Avengers #44, Captain America invaded Iron Man’s base. While the other heroes fled the collapse in an expedition led by Reed Richards, the two stayed on Earth during the final moments of reality.
During the confrontation, Steve Rogers had a single goal: to get Tony Stark to admit that he knew Earth’s destruction was inevitable and that he lied to everyone with his genocidal solution.
Iron Man admits it and assures him that he would do it all over again if he had the chance.
They fight to the death while the Earth is destroyed around them. In this way, in the Marvel comics, Captain America ensured Iron Man’s demise in the apocalypse, even if it took his life along with it.
Eventually, Marvel moved on to another arc, “Secret Wars,” and the original Earth was rebuilt by Franklin Richards, the son of Reed Richards and Sue Storm.
Thus, both Captain America and Iron Man “came back” to life, even though they are just remakes of the versions that killed each other in a final battle.
Considering that neither hero is active in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, it is a safe bet that there will not be such a dramatic and intense confrontation between the two on the silver screen.
Even though the two have already swapped a few punches in Captain America: Civil War (2016).