Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness visits Earth-838 and shows a number of its heroes, yet Iron Man is nowhere to be seen, prompting questions about what happened to him. Confirming rumors and speculation, Doctor Strange 2 featured big cameos, including both alternate versions of heroes the MCU already knew and characters that had never appeared in a Marvel Studios film before. The multiverse concept offered many possibilities in terms of storylines, but Disney’s acquisition of Fox also ensured that Marvel Studios had access to most Marvel characters, something that Doctor Strange 2 benefited greatly from. With so many possibilities in terms of cameos, Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati storyline was in danger of being a presentation of new heroes that were there solely to tease all the new characters the MCU now has access to. However, that was not what happened, as more than half of the team was made up of names that the MCU already knew. Captain Carter, Captain Marvel, Mordo, and Black Bolt are all alternate versions or slightly different takes on characters that had previously appeared in the MCU, which raises the question of why certain heroes, such as Iron Man, were not remembered on Earth-838.
Iron Man during Doctor Strange 2’s Illuminati scenes. Considering that Thanos was defeated by the Illuminati while still on Titan, Earth-616’s version of Tony Stark’s death never happened on Earth-838. Interestingly, Iron Man did not appear in the Illuminati’s flashback shown as John Krasinski’s Mister Fantastic and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X remembered their victory against Thanos, which suggests that Iron Man might not have even been part of the group. However, Earth-838 had at their disposal the Ultron drones, which, in the MCU, were created by Tony Stark. There is a chance that on Earth-838, it was Hank Pym or Reed Richards who created Ultron, but it is also possible the Tony Stark of that universe either died or left the Illuminati sometime after he created Ultron. Between all the realities that America Chavez’s powers allowed Doctor Strange to visit, it is hard to imagine a Marvel universe without Iron Man’s presence, especially when other known heroes like Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Captain Carter exist on Earth-838. Just the fact that Iron Man is not one of the cameos in Doctor Strange 2, however, does not mean that he does not exist on Earth-838. Although Tony Stark was a member of the Illuminati in the comics, getting Robert Downey Jr. for a cameo or recasting Iron Man just three years after Avengers: Endgame would have been a difficult mission, not to mention detracting from the other characters and undermining the impact of his sacrifice.
The Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ending makes it clear that the problems related to the multiverse are far from over, and this could be the MCU’s chance to revisit Iron Man in other universes, including Earth-838. Apart from the members of the Illuminati, Doctor Strange 2 chose not to delve into Earth-838’s other heroes and events, which helps leave loose ends for future films to pick up. With incursions being teased and a Secret Wars storyline on the horizon, possibilities abound as to how the MCU can continue to explore the multiverse and its infinite versions.