Tony Stark’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame left the fans clutched to their seats in the most bittersweet ending possible. Having finally learned what it truly means to be a hero, the journey of Tony Stark is a complete cycle of redemption. The text-book definition of a narcissist, Tony made the final sacrifice of his own life to let others live. While we are still reeling from his loss, Tony might have planned something truly enormous for us back in Iron Man 2.
Released back in 2010, Iron Man 2 was immediately green-lit for production after the critical and commercial success of Iron Man (2008). With Jon Favreau returning as director and Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard for the role of James Rhodes/War Machine, Iron Man 2 was another commercial success. Despite being considered as a bit inferior to its predecessor for its pacing and lackluster villain (Whiplash), Iron Man 2 played a pivotal role in the larger vision; the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Samuel L. Jackson reprised his role as Nick Fury from Iron Man and became a much more fleshed out character in the movie. The movie also introduced us to Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. From enforcing the existence of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Howard Stark’s connection to the organization, Iron Man 2 set the ball rolling to create a much larger universe. But, there was something even more powerful than S.H.I.E.L.D. which was teased in the movie.
After the Infinity Saga, plans of producing an Illuminati movie by Marvel Studios has been doing the rounds lately. While long time fans of comics might have seen this move coming, for casual movie fans it’s definitely huge news. For the uninitiated, Illuminati is a secret group (duh!) which consists of the smartest superheroes of Marvel Universe. Founded by Iron Man, the Illuminati has representatives from every major faction of heroes. Charles Xavier (Mutants), Doctor Strange (Magic), Black Bolt (Inhumans), Mister Fantastic (Fantastic Four), and Namor (Atlantis). Despite numerous requests, Black Panther has refused to be a member of this organization for conflicting ideologies.
In the MCU, Tony Stark has shown his paranoid and distrustful side which led to the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Despite siding with the government when it came to the Superhero Registration Act, Tony never really trusts bureaucracy and believes in taking matters into his own hands. That’s one reason why only his most trusted friends have used his suit of armors. But in Iron Man 2, Tony might have been harboring one more secret which will soon come to light; Illuminati. Teasing the existence of such a secret group back in 2010 was a bold move since Disney didn’t have the rights to most members of the Illuminati back then. But, the MCU has never really stayed absolutely faithful to the source material in the past which might hint that notable individuals like Nick Fury and Hank Pym might have been members of this group who handled existential threats in absolute secrecy without notifying external agents.
In a recent revelation by Redditor r/sadknickerbockersfan we might have to revisit Iron Man 2 to confirm our theory. In a scene where Tony Stark is at a Congressional hearing, he whips out his phone for a few seconds to hack into Justin Hammer’s monitors to show Hammer’s true intentions. Unless you were too awestruck with Tony’s massive swagger and “I’ve successfully privatized world peace” quote, Tony’s futuristic phone shed some light on the future of MCU.
In a blink-and-you-miss scene, Tony’s phone had some apps to help him with his work. Interestingly, one of them was S.H.I.E.L.D. which probably had the data of the Avengers Initiative. But more interestingly, there was another app/folder named ILLUMINATI, even stylized in the same font used in the comics.
Naturally, the government acts much of a hindrance with its inane bureaucracy and paperwork to save the world in time. As a result, Tony would have taken it upon himself to create a team of like-minded geniuses to come together whenever the world is in danger. After Thanos, the Avengers learned how weak they truly are against threats beyond their comprehension. And now that Tony has passed away, the onus lies on the only member of the Illuminati to have made his appearance in the MCU; Doctor Stephen Strange. As Doctor Strange will be returning in the much anticipated Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, rumors of introducing the Illuminati and many other theories have been circulating lately.
Lately, a deleted scene from Iron Man (2008) has also gained much attention for its not-so-subtle Easter Eggs. In the deleted post-credit scenes where Director Nick Fury introduces Tony Stark to the Avengers Initiative, he originally had some different lines than the ones we heard in the theatrical release.
“As if Gamma Accidents, Radioactive Bug Bites, and assorted mutants weren’t enough, I have to deal with a spoilt brat who doesn’t play well with others and keep all his toys to himself.”
Clearly, gamma accidents refer to The Hulk and probably his related allies and foes i.e. She-Hulk and Red Hulk. Radioactive bug bites can only mean one thing: Spider-Man. But Nick Fury using the words mutant way back in 2008 was a clear indication that Kevin Feige did have an alternate vision to rope in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Fox’s X-Men under the same roof.
With the Fox-Disney deal and Spider-Man being a shared property of Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, it’s safe to assume that the Avengers will soon meet the mutants in the upcoming movies. After the Infinity Saga, the introduction of the mutants and Fantastic Four might lay the groundwork for Marvel’s next epic movie, Avengers: Secret Wars.