The Avengers: Endgame trailer pulled at our heartstrings, ramped up the excitement and made us squeal with anticipation for the final installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Three. Ten years in the making, the biggest tear-jerker moment in the trailer was the fate of poor Tony Stark. Stranded in space, desolate and preparing for imminent death, he had given up hope of any rescue.
With limited supplies, lack of oxygen and left by Nebula to fend for himself, he sends a heartfelt message to his one true love, Pepper Potts. It is an emotional goodbye, building on the high stakes set in Avengers: Infinity War and showing that the death toll and devastation isn’t over just yet. Thanos’ snap is still reeking huge consequences and this is one of them. It would seem all is lost for the founding Avenger.
This appears to be what Marvel wants us to think. We know that Robert Downey Junior is unlikely to play Tony Stark forever. We know that more deaths will happen in Endgame as teased by the Russo Brothers. Downey’s portrayal of Iron Man is adored by billions of people across the world, so who better to shock us and invest us all in this movie instantly by hinting at his character’s possible demise?
Yet if you watch closely, the trailer also seems to offer a solution. At one point in his love-letter to Pepper, Tony Stark refers to a ‘rescue’ that the team are attempting to send to him, saying that it won’t work and he will be dead by the time they reach him.
In other words, ‘Rescue’ is on the way to rescue him. Rescue, AKA Pepper Potts is an alias she adopts in the comics when Tony designs a specific suit for her. In Iron Man 3 we have already seen that Pepper is perfectly capable, not to mention extremely badass in wielding the armor entirely by herself. She saves the day in that movie and proves she’s not as vulnerable as Stark thinks as well as a hero in her own right, rather than merely Iron Man’s love interest.
It would seem that Avengers: Endgame is performing a clever trick in referencing a sub-plot or tying up a loose end in every movie that has been in the MCU so far. Whilst Stark has been away, who knows how much time has passed, especially with Thanos using the time stone which we know has severe consequences. Perhaps Potts took up Tony’s mantle, continuing his heroism and fulfilling her true potential.
In Spider-man: Homecoming Pepper is re-established as a vital puzzle piece to the MCU. Maybe a female-fronted Iron Man IS the future. Maybe it’s Pepper Potts rather than Ri Ri Williams. Perhaps Gwyneth Paltrow is coming to rescue the MCU and provide a new phase of much-needed women-led superheroes. With the Captain Marvel movie on its way soon in 2019 and a Black Widow movie finally in the works, let’s hope the future is female.