When Can Marvel Studios Launch ‘Iron Man 4′?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated April 10th, 2014 at 7:43 pm,

Iron Man 4 Logo Marvel When Can Marvel Studios Launch Iron Man 4?

While Captain America: The Winter Soldier is earning positive buzz for its strong reviews and record-setting box office numbers for the month of April, even beating out last fall’s Thor: The Dark World’s opening, the two Phase 2 sequels come nowhere close to the success of Marvel Studios’ number one hero: Iron Man. Or should we say Robert Downey Jr.?

Sitting only behind its predecessor The Avengers as the biggest comic book film of all-time, Iron Man 3 solidified the armored, high-tech character as Marvel’s most bankable hero in cinemas worldwide. That makes Iron Man 4 a highly desirable (read: inevitable) commodity that Disney-owned Marvel will one day produce. The two questions are when and will Robert Downey Jr. be involved?

The Hollywood superstar – thanks to the Iron Man-powered career revival – can command the highest of salaries in the business and that means he works on the projects he wants to. It’s how he earned a reported $80+ million from The Avengers and at least $50 million for Iron Man 3. That put RDJ and his agents in a nice bargaining spot when they negotiated a contract extension to have him reprise the role of Tony Stark for The Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Avengers 3.

image2 When Can Marvel Studios Launch Iron Man 4?

Sadly for Iron Man fans – and the studio – that contract extension didn’t include Iron Man 4. That doesn’t mean Marvel and RDJ can’t work out a deal in the future to have him keep coming back, but such contract talks likely won’t come until around the release of The Avengers 3, likely in 2018. By then, Downey Jr. will be 53, and the actor – when asked about the future of the character post-Avengers - said he doesn’t want to “overstay [his] welcome” with fans and might retire from the character.

Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige on the other hand, when asked about the topic, admits that Tony Stark will likely be recast one day, comparing the billionaire industrialist to James Bond. While that may be inevitable, one day, such a thought is a tough pill to swallow for fans. How do you continue the shared universe and timeline and just swap out the most important actor? Is there a story that could lend the character to recasting?

Iron Man 3 co-writer and director Shane Black – and friend of Robert Downey Jr. – hinted that he believed the actor would come back to do Iron Man 4 and 5 one day. Again, another Iron Man movie will be made eventually. And again, it’s a matter of when and with whom. According to an interesting survey handed out by Marvel Studios representatives at certain public screenings of Captain America: The Winter Soldier over the last few days, it could be sooner than we think.

Kristy Puchko at Cinema Blend was at one of these screenings and snapped some photos of the questionnaire. Along with the usual demographic questions, one question asked viewers what Marvel Studios titles they were most excited to see next:

Marvel Studios Survey Include Iron Man 4 1024x764 When Can Marvel Studios Launch Iron Man 4?

We can only guess that Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t on there because it’s releasing this year as well, but it’s interesting to see Iron Man 4 listed among the given followups (and new property Ant-Man) we know are coming. Captain America 3 of course, just had its release date officially confirmed for May 6, 2016, in response to its successful opening weekend and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and directors Anthony and Joe Russo, were already signed to return and are breaking its story.

Thor 3 doesn’t have a release date yet but it’s a relatively safe bet to release in May 2017 and already has writers in Craig Kyle (Thor: Tales of Asgard) and Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World). Or is it? For Phases 1 and 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor solo adventures released before the Captain America titles, but we can now confirm that’s no longer the case come Phase 3. Since Thor 3 has yet to lock down a date, it’s possible it doesn’t come until after The Avengers 3, although the delay in confirmation may have to do with the studio finding the right director for the project since Alan Taylor likely won’t return.

Thor three-quel in 2017 puts into question whether or not Guardians of the Galaxy gets a direct sequel in the next phase. Some rumors claim GOTG is a one-off that could launch spinoffs, so the cosmic-based property adds an interesting spin to the speculation game of what Marvel is going to do next and what they have on that roadmap of films planned until 2028.

Marvel Studios Assembling A Universe When Can Marvel Studios Launch Iron Man 4?

What we do know on the Phase 3 front is that each year there are two movies releasing and the first movie of each pair will be a sequel to an established property, with a new IP coming second. That’s why we’re getting Guardians of the Galaxy this year, Ant-Man the following year and in 2017-18 we’re likely getting Doctor Strange (according to Feige’s hinted timeline). As for the unannounced new property (or properties) in between, the common title that continues to surface is The Inhumans, with there being rumors of Black PantherMs. Marvel and another Hulk standalone feature as well. I’d love to see Nova in there since that could serve as a quasi-sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy that bridges it to the familiar Earth-based characters, and it gives Marvel room to essentially deliver Cap, Thor and GOTG followups in Phase 3 while still counting one of them as a “new’ property.

And what we know about future Iron Man films is that it comes down to delivering a unique and interesting story for Tony Stark, one that’s worthy of Robert Downey’s full-time involvement. With The Avengers movies, it’s easier for RDJ since there are more action scenes, and therefore less of him required on set thanks to his CGI armor doing all the work. Jeremy Renner barely ever saw him during production of The Avengers, as an example. With each Iron Man appearance, there also comes the need to introduce more armor suits, and it’s difficult to top there being dozens of them in Iron Man 3 and the biggest one of all being introduced in Age of Ultron. Yes, we’re finally going to see the infamous Hulkbuster armor.

The Avengers 2 Official Hulk vs Iron Man Hulkbuster Concept Art 570x324 When Can Marvel Studios Launch Iron Man 4?

Hulkbuster Armor – The Avengers: Age of Ultron Concept Art

How do you top that in merchandising the Ironclad Avenger? Maybe send him to space to meet up with the Guardians of the Galaxy just like he did in the modern Marvel NOW! books (see: Iron Man goes to space rumors). That, or Stark can become the director of a new and improved S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, which might fit nicely based on the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Despite uncertainty from cast members Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, Marvel Studios is definitely thinking about Iron Man 4, but if it’s coming, it won’t be until after The Avengers 3. Will RDJ stick with the character through “Phase 4″ or will Marvel Studios need to recast? Could War Machine be put front and center? What about the other key characters whose contracts run out by The Avengers 3 (Chris Evans & Chris Hemsworth)?

There’s only one solution:


More: Marvel Plans Ahead All The Way To 2028


Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now in theaters, Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!

Source: CB (hat tip Nicholas)

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  1. I hope they do a IM4 with RDJ. He’s the one that got all this going, and he deserves a proper sendoff.

    • I agree, at least until IMIV. They should have a epic conclusion to RDJ Ironman.

    • “A proper send off.”

      I.E. Shane Black & Drew Pearce stay far far away from the project.

  2. I’ll use the Nolan excuse.

    Leave it as a Trilogy.

    Reboot Iron Man with Marky Mark.


    • Eh, I really like Mark, but cannot see him as Iron Man. In fact, no one can do it. Robert Downey IS Iron Man as he stated at the end of the first film. That statement is true in the movie and real life. I hope they make more with him, but if they can’t get him to do anymore, then be done with the character. I know that won’t happen, but that is my wish. It’s the same thing with Batman. Christian IS Batman and no one else can do it as well as he did.

    • Actually, I should have said “recast” Iron Man (you can’t reboot it without killing the current MCU continuity).

      You could do it two ways:

      1. Just recast RDJ and still call him Tony Stark (like they did with Jim Rhodes).
      2. Or more radically, create a new Iron Man who Tony passes the mantle to… some unknown child of Tony’s, Tony Stark Jr. who comes out of the shadows (Hail Hydra!) to inherit the Stark name, technology fortune and suits.


    • NO not as Mark Wahlberg! I agree he’s an great actor, but HELL NO he’s Iron Man, for 1 reason alone already. He’s too buff.

      I’d see him more as Captain America instead of Iron Man

  3. DC’s usp – Batman
    Fox’s usp – Wolverine
    Sony’s usp – well…Spider-Man
    Marvel’s usp – RDJ

  4. Iron Man 3 only made 300 million less than The Avengers, which is extremely impressive. RDJ is quite possibly the most bankable actor as this moment in terms of returning profit. Iron Man 4 WILL happen and it will happen WITH RDJ. Marvel doesn’t want to ruin it’s Iron Man reputation by going too far, but for a solo hero film that made 1.2 billion..a fourth and final solo adventure is a sure-fire thing. The only issue with Marvel is they will have to pay RDJ a ridiculous amount of money.

    As for WHEN.. Tony Stark’s last adventure should be his solo finale. So it should be after The Avengers 3. How that could be possible remains to be seen. They won’t recast for Iron Man 4 though.

    • IMO, it should be 9 iron man movies broken down as: 6 Iron Man movies plus 3 Avengers Movies. If they decided to reboot, they should do something like a Dark Iron Man story or something.

  5. IM4 would be sweet to see. I don’t think Downey could ever overstay his welcome as Iron Man. He actually made Iron Man cool.

  6. Hopefully Shane can do a movie where RDJ wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshett and say he had the oddest dream and that we find out that Andy Dick is really Iron Man in the same vien we found out the Mandarian was some lame ugly cripple who went to a badly dressed 70′s porn star.

    Hmm….I think I have IM3 issues.

  7. How about Bradley Cooper as the next Tony Stark.

    • I cant picture a Racoon wearing an IM suit……

    • Can’t use him, he’s already the voice of Rocket Raccoon in the MCU.

      • Vin Deisel has been confirmed to be in talks for a live action role in addition to his voice over work.

        • Yea, but groot doesn’t really talk. In the comics he says one thing only: “I am Groot”

          • So lemme get this straight: he did voice over for a character who doesn’t talk? Wow, he must have busted his @$$ on this one!

        • And Vin already stated he was at Marvel for an unknown part when they started discussing Groot and they loved the idea of him playing that voice part.

  8. I really Hope for an IM4 but right now I cant think of much other than GOTG and that James Gunn made the a great movie so fans demand a sequel!! It may be hard though with Zoey Saldana filming 3 Avatar movies back to back to back, MAYBE they get IM to replace Gamora…. HMMMM

  9. Not until they get another Tony Stark. RDJ has done his part.

  10. Have RDJ/Iron Man join the Captain for Cap 3 and that weekend will be won by Marvel before it even starts. Count on it

    • i think you are underestimating the power of the bat

  11. I think the development of this his character story would be best served by becoming a supporting character more like SLJ. I’d like to see one more Iron Man, but then the character should be Director of S.H.I.E.L.D or some other role that would lean more towards cameos.

    I don’t want to see them slap someone in the Iron Man suit for a new trilogy of Iron Man movies.

  12. I know it’s not currently in the plans but I think Marvel should find a way to place IM4 between Avengers 2 & 3.

    Say what you want about the movies but as far as the general public is concerned Iron Man is the #1 option.
    It’s also a safe bet because if there are less than stellar box-office returns for Guardians or Ant Man Marvel can rest assured that another Iron Man will be there to save the day.

    • Especially if they stick with putting Cap 3 against Batman/Superman, it would be a fantastic way to strategically make up for any financial hit they took there.

  13. Not being a reader of the comics, but a big fan of the films, the whole Mandarin thing didn’t bug me at all. It actually made the story more relevant to our modern world of terrorism and shady corporations and questionable military action, in my opinion. It was only later I realized who the Mandarin was originally, and I can certainly understand the outrage from people who enjoyed that version of the villain.

    They already set up a ‘real’ Mandarin in the One Shot All Hail the King, and I think a continuation of that would make an excellent plot for Iron Man 4. RDJ’s final outing being against Stark’s greatest nemesis would be the right way to bid the actor farewell. They could even use what happened to Trevor (poor, ignorant, self-obsessed Trevor) to link the events of the films together and create a truly coherent Iron Man story between IM, IM2, Avengers, IM3, Avengers 2 and 3 and IM4.

    • THIS+

    • Being an actual reader of the comics, the whole Mandarin thing didn’t bug me at all either. You’re spot-on about the relevance thing. The original Mandarin was a lame cliché not even worthy of a parody of a 70′s Bond megalomaniac villain. Also, what the whiners usually fail to understand is that as it turns out, IM3′s Mandarin (I mean the so-called “real” one, Aldrich Killian) is still Iron Man’s most dangerous foe. And last but not least, I just loved the twist and the awesome acting job delivered by Sir Ben Kingsley on both sides of it. So really, the changes made were all for the better.

      That said, if we find out in IM4 that Killian just usurped the name of the actual Mandarin AND if they find a way to make him more grounded than the ridiculously over-the-top original comic character, it could be a great way to send RDJ off. Then Rhodey could act as a replacement (like he did in the comics) for a few years until a new guy takes over – maybe the then grown-up kid from IM3, mentored by a retired Tony? The fact is, comic characters don’t usually age much (if at all) but real-life actors do, so if their MCU is here to stay (and it better be!), it means that a reboot is not an option, at least not in the foreseeable future, so another character taking over the mantle is inevitable eventually. Comic fans have to process this simple fact – otherwise, are they really prepared to not see any new Iron Man film ever again? I know I’m not and I also know I’d favor a succession over a simple recast.

  14. Don’t think there should be another Iron man movie. I’d love i they had tony rebuild shield, or a new agency like it, and run it. He could have the kind of role Nick fury currently has. Popping up a bunch, but never for to long. We’ll get to see him he’ll make a bunch of money and not have to use a lot of his time.

    • the events of all hall the king need to be resolved

    • Okay then what happens to Nick Fury? Samuel L Jackson needs to stay around just as much as Robert Downey Jr does.

      • Secret Avengers led by Fury – a good opportunity to see Cap’s stealth suit again. Stark leads the reformed SHIELD for a while but hates it and eventually quits to run for senator and maybe found the Illuminati with Strange, Black Bolt and Namor, prompting Fury to return as head of the organization. This way, both can stick around.

  15. B4 i say this i want to clarify that of course rdj returning is preferred but how do you continue if an actor is replaced?

    JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!






    • Batman is a horrible example to use in this argument. Everything between Keaton and Bale was trash.

      • To me, everything after Michael Keaton was trash – including Christian Bale. The Dark Knight Trilogy was carried by it’s villains, not by Bale.

        Robert Downey IS Iron Man. He’s the reason those movies were so successful.

      • Val kilmer wasn’t that bad of a Batman? I prefer him above Keaton really, he was also the only actor apart from Bale to talk in a lower and darker voice when donning the costume

    • @Adam
      Your post was so loud my ears are bleeding. No need to yell buddy.

  16. I think IM 4 with a proper Mandarin story would be a very good way to send off Iron Man (but not Tony). I think Tony gets injured in battle with Mandarin, then takes on full leadership of SHIELD (much less action required for old man Downey). Lead that up to a Civil War story in Avengers 4 or 5.

    • What if Civil War extended for all of the films between Avengers 4 and 5? The war starts with Avengers 4 (maybe after a World War Hulk-type incident that leads the government to view all superheroes as potential dangers), and continues through all the solo films before getting resolved in epic fashion in Avengers 5. How metal would that be?

      • This is a great idea. A Civil War book end type movie for both 4 and 5 and put 6 movies in the middle that are all about certain characters point of view of the Civil War.

        Excellent idea here.

  17. I’m not a big Colin Farrell fan but I’M could see him as Tony Stark.

    • Me, OTOH, am a big fan of Colin Farrel. He, much like RDJ, always puts a unique, distinct stamp on the characters he plays. He’s got a strong personality, makes courageous choices & isn’t afraid to perform “against the grain”, which, realize it or not, is part of what makes RDJ’s Stark so successful.

      SO x 1000 for Colin Farrel as Iron Man. But not as a reboot, just a handing off of the baton…or inheriting the mantle…or passing the scepter….

      OK, ’nuff said.

  18. I don’t want recasting, would rather he just some cameo stuff, and show up in avengers at times

  19. I think that after 3 films in each franchise, they should give it a break and move on to other movies and characters. Maybe not kill or recast any characters just yet. But they can focus on new incoming characters (Ant Man, Doctor Strange, etc) and even launch a new Avengers trilogy. And maybe eventually down the road they can bring back older characters for a giant event and/or kill some off.

  20. If Iron Man 4 happens, it should be used to help tease or launch a couple new properties while also retiring RDJ as Iron Man.

  21. I feel kind of exhausted of these Iron Man movies, 3 is the right number to end it at. However, we have yet to see Iron Man’s biggest nemesis on the big screen in Mandarin and since he was hinted at as actually existing in All Hail the King, then there must be a fourth one! Mandarin to Iron Man is like Joker to Batman or Lex Luthor to Supes.

  22. I think they need to reboot it, sooner rather than later so the franchise doesn’t get stale. Marvel really didn’t do the Mandarin justice in Iron Man 3 and overall it was somewhat of a forgettable one.

    So, I think rebooting him in Iron Man 4 should come as soon as they’re done with the script in 2016. The sooner the better, with a franchise like that in my opinion. Also maybe RDJ could even star in a cameo appearance towards the end of X-men apocalypse, since it could rekindle interest and Iron Man was technically in the X-men legends series.

    • Problem is, they can’t reboot one franchise in a shared universe, they’d have to reboot the whole MCU at once. No thanks, I’d rather a recast or better yet, Tony passing the mantle to a successor (the kid?). Also, this reboot craze is really getting old and needs to stop sometime soon.

      • Agreed on bfg. And there’s the problem between Marvel Studios and their MCU, and 20th Century fox. How much I would love Wolverine in Avengers. It’s no shared universe. IF that would happen that RDJ would appear in X-Men Apocalypse. It’s like 20th Century Fox saying “YES! WE WILL MERGE WITH MARVEL STUDIOS NOW!”

        And sadly, I don’t see that happening

  23. I would prefer they leave it alone. I mean, to me IM3 was an ending and dragging it out would just bug people.

  24. Obviously Marvel would want to do IM4, and I’d like to see it. But I am absolutely not in any hurry to see IM4 if it comes at the expense/delay to other characters who haven’t gotten onto the screen yet.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Tony Stark as a supporting player or cameo many in non-Iron Man films.

  25. The numbers do not mean anything to me I know Cap 2 is the best film Marvel has done. I also know why many might not have went to see cap 2, after the first one being very disappointing and Avengers being the first of its kind where characters all come together cap 2 did not have a chance to get to that point no matter what, but is the best story, and everything like action, comedy, character development is all well placed. now Ironman is a great character but they kind of let me down a bit but then right back up with the short all hail the king. Now if they really focus on Mandarin maybe being part of Hydra releasing Fin Fang Foom from Thors world would be amazing. What I realy want to see is The Leader gaining freedom somehow and maybe get a great Hulk solo film.

  26. Adam the events of the creation of The Leader need to be resolved as well as all hail the king.

  27. I agree with whoever said that Marvel should do one more solo Iron Man with RDJ, with the real Mandarin. Then have Stark pass the torch to a new Iron Man to continue the franchise without a reboot. Then have RDJ’s Stark appear in smaller, cameo type roles.

  28. Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Planet Hulk
    Featuring Iron Man

  29. How big will his parts be in Avengers 2, and 3? If RDJ has a huge role in Avengers 3, then no. That will be a great way for RDJ to walk away from the character and let Marvel start fresh with a new actor for Iron Man 4, whenever that will happen.