Given that Captain Marvel is set in the 90s, fans have been hoping to check in with some of the other MCU heroes during that time. Directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden are certainly hinting that might be so, especially as it concerns one Tony Stark.
Could a wild Tony Stark appear? At a press round-table for Captain Marvel, the movie’s directors seemed to tease the possibility.
In answer to a question on whether any of the film would share a timeline with Avengers: End Game, per Fandango, Anna Boden offered:
"All we can say is this is a ’90s film, a ’90s period film. Where Sam Jackson is a younger version of Nick Fury."
And Ryan Fleck was quick to add:
"And Tony Stark hasn’t figured out how to become Iron Man yet, so …"
There seems to be a great stress that the movie is a 90s movie and nothing else, but bringing up Iron Man, when the question was not remotely about Iron Man does perk some ears.
And it would be a wild Stark, indeed. In the 90s, fresh off his parents’ death, the Stark that might appear would look very different from the hero who makes the sacrifice play over and over throughout Marvel’s many movies.
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In the brief 1991 flashback given in Captain America: Civil War, which takes place right before the Starks’ leave Tony never to return, Howard Stark seems to imply that Tony was already liable to burn the house down if left alone for too long, and, by 1999, as glimpsed in Iron Man 3, Tony is completely out of hand, creating enemies for himself left and right and well on his way to becoming his own worst one.
Through context, the effects of Howard and Maria Starks deaths on Tony are clear, but actually seeing some of that in between time would give even more nuance to the struggles Tony faced and even greater meaning to his ability to come back from them to become the leader and hero we see in the latest Avengers movies.
But hopefully, not just in time to see him make a real sacrifice play in Endgame.
The greatest strength of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is mixing heroes, stories, and timelines together to give the audience the sense of a constantly building universe. Whether or not Stark appears in Captain Marvel, fans should have their eyes peeled for many moments of inter-story connection.