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How Old Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man Was When He Died In The MCU

Robert Downey Jr. was in his early 40s when he got the role of a lifetime. Born in 1965, the actor debuted as Tony Stark in 2008's "Iron Man." Since then, he's played the billionaire playboy philanthropist over half a dozen times, cementing his status as the most beloved star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Marvel could bring Downey back to the franchise, his character ultimately died in 2019's $2 billion-grossing "Avengers: Endgame." Seeing as Tony Stark was born in 1970, Iron Man would have been 53 when he died in "Endgame."

The fourth "Avengers" film notably takes place in 2023, not its release year 2019. To be more specific, Stark died on October 17, 2023, one of the most important days in the history of the MCU, as that day also saw the death of Thanos (Josh Brolin) and the return of all those who were wiped away by his snap. "Endgame" takes place five years after "Avengers: Infinity War." Up until then, the contemporary-set MCU films were aligned with our real-world timeline.

While Iron Man's death was devastating, especially when one considers his age of passing, it's impossible to ignore the legacy Stark left behind. From saving the universe multiple times to having a hand in assembling the Avengers, the Stark Industries CEO is one of the most influential figures in the ever-expanding franchise. He also leaves behind a daughter named Morgan (Lexi Rabe). Now, fans are wondering if Iron Man will ever return to the MCU. 

Will Iron Man return to the MCU?

Iron Man's death is one of the most important moments in the MCU. His passing wrapped up the character's arc, signifying just how much Tony Stark changed over a decade. It also served as an emotional farewell to Robert Downey Jr., who spent most of the 2010s playing the hero. Following "Endgame," Downey won his first Oscar thanks to his rousing performance in "Oppenheimer." While MCU architect Kevin Feige is publicly against bringing the "Avengers" character back, reports have suggested that the franchise is cooking up Iron Man's return. 

Rumors have long suggested that Iron Man will return in some form for "Avengers: Secret Wars," which debuts in summer 2027. While plot details are slim, it would be interesting to see if the hero's reported resurrection actually pans out. Iron Man's potential return has divided fans, with many arguing that it would tarnish the most important moment in the entire franchise. Then again, we're talking about a film based on comic books, and these projects always bring back old-school, fan-favorite characters. 

Ultimately, fans will just have to wait and see if Stark ever comes back. While speaking with Jodie Foster in 2024 for Variety's "Actors on Actors" segment, the "Silence of the Lambs" star asked Downey if he'd be open to returning. "It's just crazily in my DNA," he said. "Probably the most like-me character I've ever played, even though he's way cooler than I am. I've become surprisingly open-minded to the idea."