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Why Thanos Should Fear Iron Man The Most

In the wake of the sheer devastation Thanos wrought throughout Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel fans have been racking their brains to figure out how the Mad Titan could possibly be defeated in the upcoming Endgame. Since half of Earth's heroes were turned to dust by the decimation, taking him down will be no easy task for what remains of the Avengers. 

While many fans are speculating that a heavyweight hero like Hulk or Captain Marvel will be the one to ultimately bring down the villain, there are numerous reasons why Thanos should fear Iron Man the most. Despite not having any actual super powers of his own, Tony Stark has proven time and time again that he is capable of amazing feats. He developed an army of powerful suits, stopped an alien invasion by flying a nuclear missile through a portal, created Vision using the Mind Stone, and even predicted this new cosmic threat back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Although Iron Man is certainly not the strongest Avenger, let's see what his resourcefulness and personal stake in this fight could bring to the table.

Stark prevented the Chitauri invasion

Stark first caught Thanos' attention after thwarting his original invasion of Earth back in the first Avengers film. Even though Thanos was not directly invading, acting instead via Loki and the Chitauri army, Stark's heroic actions still ultimately foiled the Mad Titan's plans of conquering Earth and claiming the Tesseract (later revealed to contain the Space Stone) for himself. A being as driven and powerful as Thanos would surely make a point to remember anyone tenacious enough to defy his whims.

This is exactly why Thanos knew who Tony Stark was during Avengers: Infinity War, as confirmed by Joe Russo during the commentary track for the film's home release. Russo went on to describe the "existential connection" between the two that has stemmed from that first conflict. The fact that Stark is the only Avenger that Thanos knows and addresses by name already shows that the Mad Titan views him as a potential threat.

Stark predicted the inevitable threat

Back in Age of Ultron, Tony Stark actually predicted the events of Infinity War with frightening accuracy. During a heated exchange with Steve Rogers, Tony's concerns about an unstoppable threat from space not only referenced the Battle of New York, but also foreshadowed the arrival of the Mad Titan. "A hostile alien army came charging through a hole in space, we're standing 300 feet below it," recalls Stark. "We're the Avengers. We can bust arms dealers all the live-long day, but that up there? That's the endgame. How were you guys planning on beating that?"

Not only did Stark predict the title of the final climatic film in the "Infinity Saga" story arc during this verbal tirade, he also foretold their defeat at the hands of Thanos. Though Cap has the inspiring one-word answer — "Together" — Tony correctly responds that they'll lose. The Avengers eventually give it all they have, but they're not enough to stop the Mad Titan from collecting the Infinity Stones. Rogers might be the courageous leader who the heroes look up to in the darkest of times, but Stark is the only realist on the team trying to plan ahead before disaster strikes. Tony's uncanny ability to realistically anticipate what the future holds is another reason Thanos should be wary of him.

Stark and Thanos are both futurists

Long ago, Thanos foresaw the downfall of his own civilization due to overpopulation and exhaustion of resources. Despite his best efforts, the people of Titan would not listen to his call for action — understandably, due to his radical idea of eliminating half the population. Instead, he was branded as mad and banished while his people died. This is how Thanos originally gained the title of "Mad Titan" and was set on a path to wipe out half of the entire universe.

Although Stark's ideas were drastically different from Thanos', it was the same fear for his people that drove him to misguidedly create Ultron. Tony created the would-be "murder bot" to combat some type of unstoppable alien threat, but in doing so, he was giving into the very same kind of fear that drove Thanos to concoct his genocide of "balance." This is yet another reason that Thanos fears Stark — he respects the human's efforts to protect his planet, and knows that the Iron Avenger will stop at nothing to defend Earth.

Stark learns from his failures

Throughout the grand ark of the MCU, Stark has steadily improved his suits to adapt to various threats and situations. Tony's knack for modifying his tech was highlighted in the first Iron Man film when he faced off against Obadiah Stane's Iron Monger armor. After realizing that his titanium-steel Mark 2 armor would freeze up at high altitudes, Stark reconfigures it using a gold-titanium alloy that could endure lower temperatures. This small tweak helps Tony ultimately defeat Stane by luring him up high into the atmosphere, where his nemesis' suit freezes over.

Stark uses this innate adaptability to turn his perceived failures into learning experiences. During Avengers: Civil War, James Rhodes suffers critical injuries after being shot down in his War Machine armor. In order to prevent such injuries, Tony develops a fitted parachute for the Iron Spider armor he gives to Peter Parker in Infinity War. Stark also feels partly responsible for not being able to reach Rhodes before he hit the ground, so he makes modifications to his armor to develop massive foot-thrusters to increase his speed. After Ant-Man shrinks down and damages his suit from the inside during Civil War, Tony switches to nanotechnology. After being defeated in hand-to-hand combat by Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, he learns to use nanotech to create melee weapons around his hands, such as battering rams, blades, and shields. Each defeat and failure that Stark endures only makes him stronger.

Tony might build a new suit

Speaking of Stark's knack for upgrading his armor, there is a good chance Tony will develop an entirely new suit to defeat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Rumors of a new Iron Man suit were sparked when several promotional images leaked showing Stark in a different red and gold suit than we've seen before. Many Iron Man fans were quick to notice similarities between the leaked armor photos and the Mark 85 armor, a classic design from the comics. 

Although there is no way to confirm how legitimate the leaked photos are, one of the images is especially difficult to discount. This particular photo shows a LEGO Minifigure version of the Mark 85 that is supposedly going to be released in an Avengers: Endgame toy set. The idea of Stark designing a new suit is not just limited to the creation of the Mark 85 armor, as a theory about Stark creating a Thanos Buster suit has recently been making the rounds on Reddit. Fans have been speculating about Tony creating an armor that can actually wield the Infinity Stones, much like how Eitri the Dwarf King created Thanos' own Infinity Gauntlet.

Iron Man might be able to wield the Infinity Stones

There is another theory circulating that claims there is evidence Tony uses the Infinity Stones in the future. The evidence? The fact that his left arm has bothered him in previous films. As we see at the end of Infinity War, even Thanos himself is wounded by the exertion of the Decimation. If Tony attempted to reverse the snap using the Infinity Stones, chances are it would seriously injure, if not completely obliterate him. The force of using the Infinity Stones could be so powerful that the pain reverberates through time and Tony feels some type of ominous ripple effect.

Iron Man wielding the Infinity Gauntlet would come full circle with the comics, in which he has used it before to defeat the Hood. Although the Stones in the comics do not take as heavy a toll on the user as they do in the films, Tony might still be able to wield them all using the specially-designed Thanos Buster suit fans have been speculating about.

Stark is stranded with Nebula

From the Endgame trailers, we know Tony is drifting through space in the Benatar with Nebula. As the adopted daughter of Thanos, she has incredibly intimate knowledge about the abusive Mad Titan. Even though she might not be aware of it, Nebula could hold the secret to defeating Thanos — a secret that only someone as brilliant as Stark could deduce. 

Pairing together Nebula with Iron Man is no coincidence, especially since the Russo brothers confirmed that she plays an important role in the plot during an all-encompassing interview with The Telegraph: "When you're dealing with characters like Nebula, a child of Thanos, it's impossible not to make her integral to the story or have an emotional connection to it." During their time together on the Benatar, Tony will finally have a chance to get to know his enemy. Although Thanos probably does not have any type of obvious weakness, Stark could utilize Nebula's knowledge of her adopted father to get inside his head and predict his next move.

It all started with Iron Man

When the first Iron Man movie back in 2008 led the charge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark's actions essentially kicked off the series of events that led to Infinity War. Even though Tony could have never predicted how far his superhero adventures would take him, it would certainly be poetic for the one who started it all to end it. 

Tony Stark was a completely different person when he first hit the scene, and his character arc is one of redemption. From his history as a weapons developer to his guilt over the lives lost due to the Avengers' actions in Sokovia, Stark has felt an increasing amount of responsibility for the suffering around him. Although he has made efforts to atone for his sins — stopping weapon development, designing Iron Man suits to protect the people of Earth, and signing the Sokovia Accords — he remains a tortured soul. This need for atonement that has driven Stark over the past few films could very well be building toward the ultimate sacrifice that he almost made in the first Avengers movie. Since Robert Downey Jr.'s contract expires after Endgame, many fans are speculating that Iron Man will sacrifice himself to save the others.

Iron Man could create a new weapon

After several Avengers: Endgame toys were leaked online, rumors began to run rampant that Tony Stark will use a proton cannon to defeat Thanos. This gigantic shoulder-mounted repulsor is a fan-favorite weapon from the Marvel vs Capcom games. Since the Endgame Iron Man action figure that was leaked appears to have some type of massive launcher attached to his left arm, fans are certain that this means Stark will be wielding the proton cannon against Thanos in Endgame.

While basing this speculation on a single leaked toy image might seem like a bit of a stretch, dedicated fans have already found two pieces of evidence to corroborate the theory. What looks to be an early prototype of the proton cannon was spotted during an Infinity War scene in the background of the Avengers' upstate New York headquarters. The exact same massive piece of machinery also appeared in a mysterious set photo from the Russo brothers' social media account with the cryptic caption "look harder."

Thanos failed to kill him

When Thanos easily dismantles the entire cast of Marvel heroes during Infinity War, he seems content simply incapacitating his enemies instead of murdering them. In fact, the only characters he ends up killing himself (not counting the Decimation) are Heimdall, Loki, and Gamora, each of whom he offs for a specific reason. Thanos only kills Loki after the god of mischief attempts to stab him in the throat, and he was going to let Heimdall live until the Bifrost guardian transported the Hulk back to Earth. Gamora is entirely different, as he has no choice but to sacrifice her in order to get his hands on the Soul Stone. 

As the Russo brothers pointed out on the Infinity War commentary track, Tony is the only Avenger that Thanos goes out of his way to kill from the start. This is interesting because Iron Man is not as strong as Hulk or Thor, yet Thanos leaves them alive after defeating them. Thanos specifically sets out to kill Stark because he perceives him as a real threat, and from his line "I hope they remember you," he seems to think he has succeeded.

Tony is the only one smart enough for time travel

Based on leaked photos from the Endgame set, there are strong implications that some type of time travel will be an integral part of defeating Thanos and reversing the decimation. These photos show Captain America and Thor wearing old uniforms and haircuts that they sported back in the first Avengers movie. Along with newcomer Ant-Man, the original 2012 Avengers can be seen wearing wrist-mounted devices that could be used to allow them to travel through time.

Although Ant-man's experience in the quantum realm may play an important role in potential time travel, Scott Lang is no inventor. Tony Stark is the only Avenger brilliant enough to develop some type of wrist-mounted time travel device. Although Stark might need special materials to develop this time travel technology — like Hank Pym's quantum tech — there is no way the other characters would be able to invent such sophisticated devices without his help. If Thanos recognizes this possibility, he'll have a whole new reason to worry about Iron Man's intellect. 

Tony and Thanos are two sides of the same coin

When it comes down to it, the main reason Thanos respects and fears Tony is simply how alike they are. As we've established, Thanos and Tony are both futurists who predicted the greatest threats to their respective civilizations. Even though their methods are drastically different, they were the only ones perceptive enough to foresee the upcoming catastrophes, and driven enough to take preemptive actions to stop it. 

The Russo brothers touched upon this during their interview with The Telegraph. "Tony is the most desperately driven, down to the core, to react against something like Thanos," said Joe Russo. "I think this is intrinsic to Tony's psychology, and because Tony started it all with Iron Man, he has a special connection to the threat that's facing him." This is how Thanos knows Tony will do whatever it takes to stop him. The Mad Titan sees too much of himself inside Stark... and that frightens him.