BY MATT TUCK
What if...Chris Claremont had written the finale of Avengers: Endgame? Here’s the answer from the man himself.
Speaking with Wicked Monkey at New York Comic Con, the godfather of the X-Men gave his thoughts on how he would have changed Tony Stark’s MCU farewell and the character trajectory of Morgan Stark.
Rewind two years to Endgame. After 10 years of character development, Robert Downey, Jr. gave his heartfelt goodbye to the MCU as Tony Stark sacrificed himself in order to snap Thanos and his army out of existence. What followed was a somber funeral scene at Tony and Pepper’s cabin home, where Harley Keener left fans wondering if he will take up the Iron Man mantle.
Claremont said that’s not how he would have written it. “My instinctive reaction was, ‘That’s totally predictable.’” Instead, Claremont said he would have shifted the focus to Tony’s daughter, having her essentially function as a combination of Harley and what is rumored for Riri Williams’ story in the Ironheart series.
“I would have gone for the inspiration for when Robert Downey, Jr. is calling his daughter out of their house, and she comes out wearing her mom’s Iron Man hat. For me, the way I would run it is, we’re now two or three years later. [...] She’s been rebuilding the armor for herself because the armor doesn’t leave the family. ‘Mom’s not going to do it; I want to do it because, damn it, these evil people killed my dad, and I’m not going to let them do harm to anybody else, and I can build his armor better than he can,’ so she does because inside the armor, nobody knows it's a 10-year-old girl...she can do anything.”
One of the popular rumors making the rounds has it that RDJ will return to the MCU as the artificial intelligence for Riri’s Ironheart armor. In Claremont’s hands, this wouldn’t be just a computer program; it would actually be Tony’s mind. “What he’s done is he’s created the A.I. for the armor, which is him. Originally, it was going to be an AI version of him, but he built better than he thought, and it’s actually him.”
If anyone can create an AI even more advanced than J.A.R.V.I.S., it would be Tony Stark. It would work from a storytelling perspective because Tony would have a very relatable motive for creating an A.I. of himself rather than deterring Morgan from stepping into the armor.
“No matter how hard Pepper tries to stop [Morgan], it’s not going to work,” Claremont continued. “She would be as successful [at stopping] her as she was with [Tony]. He’s got to figure out how to keep his daughter from being hurt the way he was hurt, so he’s got to help her build better armor, but also keep an eye on her at the same time, but also not let anyone know it’s really him and not just an A.I. because otherwise Pepper would go crazy.”
The mastermind of the modern X-Men, Claremont reinvigorated the team starting with X-Men #94 published in 1975. To that point, the title had been floundering. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s co-creation that debuted in 1963 was perceived as a cheap copy of the Fantastic Four, the team that ruled the sales charts in the Silver Age. While Lee and Kirby’s formula worked wonders for the FF, it didn’t go as well for the X-Men. Beginning with X-Men #67, sales were so low that Marvel didn’t published another original X-Men story until 1975, and the series was nearly axed altogether.
In GSX #1, Len Wein and company overhauled the team. Gone were original members Beast, Iceman, and Angel, replaced by one of the most diverse teams in mainstream comics to that point. Fan favorites Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus were added to the mix, but the real key to the “All-New, All-Different” X-Men’s appeal was Wolverine, who had only recently debuted in the pages of Incredible Hulk #181.
Being synonymous with the X-Men for nearly 50 years, how would Claremont introduce the mutants to the MCU? The key, he said, is to do it in a way that would surprise the audience but also answer some lingering questions.
“What would catch my attention...I would look at as why haven’t we seen them up til now? Because they’re scared; they’re in hiding. Why are they in hiding? Someone is after them. Who’s after them? Let’s find out. Would that include Tony and the Avengers? I don’t know; let’s see.”
During his tenure with the X-Men, Claremont stayed on the main title for an astounding 16 consecutive years from 1975-1991. To this day, his influence is still widely felt, and his creations are some of the most beloved in all of Marvel. He is credited with creating and co-creating over 150 original characters, not to mention further developing and fleshing out iconic X-Men like Wolverine, Charles Xavier, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. One of his most notable contributions was reframing Magneto from a standard megalomaniac bent on world domination to one with a very human past of loss and heartbreak in the Nazi concentration camps. It transformed Magneto from a standard comic book villain to one of the most understood and relatable characters in the X-Men mythos.
That being said, what one underrated character would the X-Men mastermind bring to the forefront of the MCU’s mutant invasion? Gambit.
“To me, I think they’re all underrated, from a cinematic standpoint,” answered Claremont. “I think Remy because he kicks ass and is a lot of fun.”
When does he think any of this will actually happen? “By the time we get there, it’s going to be four or five years before we see the next movie.”
Unfortunately for Claremont fans around the world, he has not been part of the Marvel Studios’ MCU think tank despite the impending arrival of the X-Men.
“Why would they talk [to me]?” Claremont said. A fan can dream.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.