In order to counteract "the snap" in Avengers: Infinity War, in Avengers: Endgame Tony Stark:

  1. Invents and constructs a workable time-travel device, and
  2. Joins other unsnapped Avengers in traveling back in time to "borrow" the infinity stones from the past (called a "time heist" in the movie).

This inadvertently results in 2014 Thanos coming to attack the present-day Avengers wherein present-day Tony Stark dies, and everyone is upset about it.

However, Tony Stark struggles with the idea of risking death to reverse the snap after getting a "second chance" to return to his family (wife and daughter). It seems to me that after constructing the time-travel device, Tony Stark no longer needs to participate in risky activities---he could let the others handle it from there.

Question: After constructing the time-travel device, couldn't Tony Stark let the other Avengers perform the "time heist"?

I don't see a reason this is infeasible or out of character, but maybe there's something I'm missing.

  • I suspect the downvote is down to the "yes .. and?" answer to this. – iandotkelly May 17 '19 at 2:55
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    My downvote comes from me because you are really getting into theoretical/hypothetical “What if…” territory here. Especially in what amounts to a comic book movie where logic is—in all honesty—arbitrary at best. But if you want my opinion—as someone who is familiar with the characters but have not seen one Marvel film—here it is: “It seems to me that after constructing the time-travel device, Tony Stark no longer needs to participate in risky activities---he could let the others handle it from there.” Then he would be selfish and not a hero. – Giacomo1968 May 17 '19 at 4:26
  • I think this has a very good underlying question. Tony literally almost gave up his life fighting Thanos once. By pure luck he gets a second chance at life. Why would you want to risk that. A thematic question of being a hero by gambling with your life one more time, when now that life belongs to your children or looking truth in the face & choosing to do nothing, for choosing selfishness for your child & family. When you dedicate your entire life to saving lives & then one time you hold back & decide to sit one out, does it erase your entire good karma – KharoBangdo May 17 '19 at 5:51
  • We already have a case of an Avenger sitting out for the sake of family in Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. Only when he loses his entire family does he want to do whatever it takes. IIRC, only Tony out of every Avenger had a family & child to gamble on. So he decision to pull this off was much more complex than just being in superhero in a superhero movie – KharoBangdo May 17 '19 at 6:41

Yes he could stop, but...

... it was made clear in a conversation between Pepper and Tony after he broke the mysterious time travel thingy, that he can't for the sake of inner peace.

Tony had her sit down and they been talking a bit. At some point Pepper asks him if he would be able to rest if he didn't help the Avengers. At that point the scene ends and the next we know is that Tony goes to the Avengers headquarter and builds the time machine.

Basically the decision was never between "staying out of it" or "just building the time machine". It was an all or nothing decision. Either build the time machine and help them afterwards to complete their goal OR discard the whole time travel idea.

This implies that Tony wouldn't be able to come to peace with himself if he didn't help the other Avengers. And for Tony, helping them is more than just building the time machine. It is definitly in character for him to not just stop if the job/mission/etc is not entirely finished.

Here you can watch the scene I am talking about, though the quality isn't that good.

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As Tony Stark states at the end of the very fist Iron Man movie, "I am Iron Man". Tony Stark is a hero, not just a gadgets guy.

So could Tony Stark have chosen to cease any involvement after building the time travel GPS? Yes; Would Tony Stark feel that he could stop at that point? No.

Remember that Tony blamed himself for the loss of Peter Parker, (Spiderman), and would never have given up trying to find a way to bring "The Kid" back, and redeem himself for failing to protect him in the first place.

Tony Stark is a hero through and through, with or without the suit, and he could not have turned away even if it was the safest thing to do.

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There was no 'time' to stop and walk away between the time heist operation and the final battle.

Tony knows he is the key to everything. There is only one winning scenario, and that is with him alive to be there. Dr Strange pleas for Tony's life, and only Tony's life at the end of Infinity War. He doesn't know to what extent his role is in the end, but he's had 5 years to think about it. When he solves the time travel issues, how can he be confident that he can stop? He also designs and builds the new glove, and he puts a contingency plan in place when designing the new glove, before he even knows that Thanos has returned. Up until this point, everything is relatively safe and simple according to plan. Why would he quit?

When Thanos returns, he's thinking about all these pieces, and you bet he's thinking about that moment he was spared, and his contingency plan. Let's not forget that Pepper shows up for the final battle, there's no walking away at that point.

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I don't think he's struggling with the risk of death so much as he is with the possibility that his daughter might end up getting erased from history. That's ultimately what he's discussing with Pepper. Sure, he's found a way to maybe bring everyone back but it carries a risk of wiping out the last five years - including their marriage and daughter - and that's not a call he feels he can make without Pepper's blessing, which she ultimately gives.

When he gives the time GPS to the other Avengers, he explicitly states that his first priority is to keep what he's gained. Getting back what was lost is secondary. He then reiterates this sentiment after they've collected the stones and Hulk is preparing to snap. Tony instructs him to bring everyone back to the present and to leave everything else about the last five years unchanged. So apart from just wanting to be a hero again, he wanted to supervise the operation to make sure his requirements were met.

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