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SYFY WIRE Marvel's What If?

Why does Iron Man keep dying in 'What If...?' Writer jokingly compares Tony Stark to South Park's Kenny

By Josh Weiss

Oh my God — you killed Tony! You bastards! Marvel's What If...? is meant to be a string of unconnected stories, but fans have noticed a running pattern that ties all of the episodes together: the reoccurring death of Tony Stark.

Throughout the anthology's first season on Disney+, the genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist has met his untimely demise at the hands of a deranged Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a Quantum Realm zombie virus, and a scheming Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

He's become the unofficial punching bag of the MCU and the show's head writer, A.C. Bradley, is well aware of that fact. Chatting with Entertainment Weekly, she revealed that the original plan of 10 debut episodes was totally derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funnily enough, that initial tenth story/season finale — which could show up in a later season — was meant to make up for all the pain and suffering Tony was forced to endure across the first nine. As it stands, however, Iron Man's animated counterpart now has more in common with another ill-fated animated character: South Park's Kenny McCormick.

"Our tenth episode was a more light, upbeat Tony Stark episode," Bradley explained. "I noticed on Twitter we're getting a lot of crap for killing Tony a lot. He has become the Kenny of the What If…? universe by accident."

What If Zombie Iron Man

The penultimate episode of What If...? Season 1 (an alternate universe in which Ultron was victorious) arrives on Disney+ tomorrow: Wednesday, Sep. 29. The finale is slated to premiere on the service next Wednesday, Oct. 6.

"As we battle toward the finale, we will see some of our heroes again," Bradley teased during her interview with EW. "And the Watcher [voiced by Jeffrey Wright] learns a few important lessons about what it means to be a hero and comes to a realization about how much these stories, how much these worlds mean to him."

"It was designed to be a certain way, and some people have been vibing and savvy enough to notice that we're slowly seeing more and more of the Watcher's visual appearance as we move forward," added director Bryan Andrews. "And that was all orchestrated from the very beginning. It's all now coming to an arrow's tip point."