The Avengers: Age of Ultron marks Robert Downey Jr.’s fifth film being inside the Iron Man suit. It’s a role that not only reinvigorated his career but launched a globally successful film franchise, which has since earned billions of dollars.

Being the oldest of the core Avengers, there has already been speculation over how many more times Downey will reprise the role of Tony Stark. Contractually, Downey is signed for two more Avengers’ films, including the forthcoming Age of Ultron. Noticeably absent in that contract is an Iron Man 4, which is strong evidence that the character will either be recast or retired before too long.

In a recent Q&A with Variety, Downey was asked how many more films he expects Marvel to make with their current roster of talent:

“The smart money is you have to look at everybody’s age. I’ll put myself at the top of the list. Sooner or later, they’ve got to start over and get somebody young. I’m not there with them yet.”

With Chris Evans’ comments today concerning his departure from acting once his obligations to Marvel are over, it seems Marvel will be in need of a new team of Avengers before too long. Perhaps this was part of the plan for introducing newcomers Scarlet Witch (Elilzabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)?

But Downey, Evans, and the rest of our current cinematic Avengers aren’t out of the picture yet. Avengers 2 releases next summer and Downey calls it “a very ambitious sequel,” “dense,” and “smart.” This echoes comments Scarlet Johansson has made previously about Avengers 2 being “darker” and “more cerebreal.” Clearly, writer/director Joss Whedon is looking to follow The Avengers with something different; a film that’s more Empire and less A New Hope. (Which is funny funny considering Whedon doesn’t like TESB‘s ending.)

Downey also hinted a bit at Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) involvement in the sequel, saying:

“My 2-year-old is crazy about Hawkeye, and I think Jeremy [Renner] has a lot to do with the plot. There’s always so many plates to spin to get these things half-right, and I’m really excited about this one.”

One could argue Hawkeye’s role in The Avengers had a lot to do with the plot, but in reality the time he was onscreen as a member of the Avengers was limited. For Avengers 2, however, Renner has already been seen filming with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, so perhaps his role will be larger and have something to do with the Maximoff twins joining the team? (As for Iron Man not being RDJ’s kid’s favorite Avenger? That’s just wrong.)

Do you believe The Avengers: Age of Ultron will beat the sequel’s curse and go on to surpass The Avengers, in both reception and earnings? How about Hawkeye’s role, what integral part could be play in Avengers 2′s plot? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1st, 2015.

Source: Variety