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’m a frequent on CinemaBlend, and I read that bit as well.

    However, I only saw it as Marvel pitching the audience, whether they want an Iron Man 4 or not. Just that (doesn’t mean it’s a definite), especially with how Iron Man is still the top ranking (in term of income) compared to Cap and Thor (probably due to RDJ).

    As for GotG 2 not included in the list, I assume they will add that question when they hand out the next survey during GotG press screening. No reason for them to add it now when the movie itself is not out, hence no positive buzz from critics to support it yet. I do think it will happen though, perhaps under a different name. A leaked shoot images for the supposed mid-credit scene of GotG showed SHIELD logos, which means they are probably linking the movie to the earth-based (The Avengers 3?).

  2. No need to make Iron Man 4 just leave it as a trilogy. Tony Stark could have his arc wrapped up in Avengers 3. Marvel has other movies it should focus on.

  3. I don’t really care. IM3 pretty much systematically dismantled everything I find interesting about Iron Man. Give Tony a suit that actually works, relieve some of the nail-biting tension of him lounging in the back of a van with a google glass headset,have a real Mandarin, and I’d consider seeing it.

    • The point of IM3 was to show Tony could be a hero without his suit. Part of his character development, realizing the limits of his technology in the face of aliens, monsters and super soldiers. He had defined himself previously with “I am Iron Man” meaning his suits, in IM3 he realized that his suits were just more tools, not his whole identity. He had to rely on his full suite of tricks (armor, homemade gadgets, remote control gear, etc.), not just the armor. Having a nonfunctional suit for most of the film was a must in terms of showing Tony could be heroic without it.

      As for the Mandarin, that’s really a post for another day. Suffice to say, having the Mandarin be a fake-out made an excellent point about who the real villains are in our world. Shady businessmen and politicians like Killian and Vice President (and Stane and Hammer previously) are who create the environments in which terrorists can exist. Having Killian personally create the Mandarin himself hammered that point home further, that the villains ‘out there’ are nowhere near as dangerous to us or the world as the powerful, nameless villains here at home.

      The good news is, after All Hail the King, you get to have your cake and eat it, too. There’s still a real Mandarin and a real Ten Rings out there, and IM4 could use that for its plot.

      • Fair enough. You make some excellent points. In truth I did enjoy many things about IM3. The scene where Tony takes out all those guards with a few improvised gadgets is one of my favourites in the series. I guess they just pushed the whole thing too far in my opinion. They didn’t need to have his armour fall apart and/or malfunction every five minutes to force Stark to rely on his ingenuity; and the headset thing was just dumb. As for the Mandarin, you are indeed correct, and I expect he will make an appearance in IM4. If Doctor Strange comes out before then people might be more open to seeing him in all his ring-slinging glory!

      • Well said.

        I agree with pretty much everything in your post. U understand the film’s themes very well.

        I enjoy IM3 each time I watch it (once x 2months or so). The interesting thing about the film is that its themes are amazing but not obvious to some. To offset this, IM3 has some great wackiness & humour, which I think is why it did so well at the BO.
        The capping, defining end theme is that Stark’s arc of the 1st 3 films was about him being in a cocoon. It would be shame not to follow that up by showing us what Stark has become once out of the cocoon; seen him as a caterpillar; how does IM soar as a butterfly?

  4. They could film a few IM movies back to back with RDJ, and release them over the course of phase2 and 3 and beyond. Then RDJ doesn’t have to make another decade long commitment, at the same time solving the problem of RDJ aging. Obviously that would come with some risk involved, and a lot of planning ahead.

    • In theory, what you said above is the correct and easy route to go. Logical. Reality though, no way that would happen. The scheduling that would be involved, salary for RDJ, and how those films would connect with the MCU. Also, if they’d want to start shooting by late early 2016, you’d have to hope they have a great start on their pre production, early development and know where the character arc is going after Avengers 2, and into phase 3, which doesn’t seem to be the case. The earliest you’d see a IM 4 would be in Phase 4. RDJ would be in his mid-50′s by the time it would be released if they did shoot movies back to back.

      I hope the announce next week that every one is onboard and they start hammering out future plans for Tony Scott aka RDJ, but I don’t just see that happening anytime soon.

  5. OK, not to derail much here, but what if they signed RDJ to do IM4 and 1 other movie. A movie that will likely never EVER happen, but put it in his contract anyway, just in case. I am thinking a Secret Wars movie.

    Hear me out here.

    What are the only ways that you can have Marvel, Sony and Fox agree to have their respective heroes in the same movie?

    1) Shared revnue/expense
    2) They can not impact eachothers universes
    3) None can outshine the other

    Perfect way to do this is Secret Wars.

    Lets just say the movie would premier in 2018 right? There is a Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers movie all before that. At the end of the last of the movies prior to Secret Wars, have the heroes (and villains) all dissappear (with nobody noticing of course). Have fans of the movies wondering what the hell is going on. Then, in Secret Wars, you have them all show up on a planet in the middle of nowhere that the Beyonder has made inhabitable by humans and whatever other species he has selected. Have the whole Secret Wars story pan out, then at the end of it, you have them all ported back with no memory of the events.

    There you have what every fan wants with all the characters appearing together, you have what the studios want with billions of dollars in revenue as well as huge props from the fans as well as no direct impact of any of the individual universes.

    If this movie were to happen though, RDJ would HAVE to be Iron Man in it.

  6. I think there’s definite interest in an IM 4 seeing as how successful the last one was. I’m just wondering who the villain in a fourth film would be. They’ve already set up the fact that there’s a “real mandarin”, so my hope would be that he’d be the villain in IM4 along with Fing Fang Foom maybe. They don’t really fit along with the technology based villains of the past 3 films, but it’s not like magic wont’t have been introduced into the MCU before. And if RDJ isn’t brought back, that’s another problem. I feel he can play the role well into his 50s honestly, he’s not aging that badly and it’s not like a stunt double can’t do scenes in the suit for while RDJ provides the voiceover. If they replace RDJ, the new actor is going to be compared to him, end of story. And if the actor, and the film, isn’t good enough, people would get upset. I wouldn’t be too worried about that, I haven’t really seen any terrible casting in the MCU so far.

  7. All I want to see is a Captain America/ Black Panther crossover.

    • Yes!

    • Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes introduction of Black Panther and I feel this would be the best way to introduce him into the MCU. Although it’s Avengers EMH it would fit Captain America 3. But IMO there should be a brief cameo in A2. Something small but still leaves an impact. Something like in EMH were BP threw Cap his shield right as soon as Zemo was going for the kill. Something similar in A2 would be perfect.

      Then in C3 (like in EMH) BP would attack Cap out of the blue (maybe break in while he’s sleeping) and they fight more on the sparring side, they get to standstill and BP tells him he was texting him and needs his help telling him Hydra killed his father and is now taking over his country. Leading them to team up and free Wakanda.

      Now that would be a dope way to bring Black Panther to the MCU!

      • That could work. They could also have flashbacks maybe showing Captain America helping the current Black Panther’s grandfather during WWII. Maybe Panther shows up and says you helped my grandfather now I need you help.

  8. Barely related but sorta: What do you want Thor 3 to be about? I’m hoping for Surtur and Enchantress and all that bidness

    • Ragnarok!

      • Another decent idea!

      • Better keep Ragnarok for Thor 4. Thor 3 needs to deal with Loki posing as Odin. This could be a good way to introduce the Enchantress as Loki’s lieutenant, so that they don’t have to cram TWO origin stories (her and Surtur’s) in one movie. Also, it would be very faithful to the original comics, muzzling the psychorigid fanbois in the process.

    • Yes, again, and with The Executioner as well.

    • I can’t wait for Thor 3 I loved the first two a lot as for the villains of the sequel I know Hemsworth is picturing Surtur and I think they briefly showed us Hel in Dark World when Malekeith was using the convergence on earth I saw a portal full of fire odds are I’m not the only one who notice that but anyway moving on I personally don’t know that much about Surtur other than a few basics for the third one though I don’t tipping I would really want Surtur because he in my mind would consume the story with the tales of Ragnarok and the movie would immediately become about Ragnarok and less about Thor, I am dying to see the Enchantress she is my favorite Thir villain I like her more than Loki and where there is enchantress there is the executioner who I also am dying to see, something that they could do to try something different since aloof thors villains in the movies have been from others worlds or Asgard itself, they could have the Absorbing Man a human villain with god like powers that would be cool I love it when Thor takes on absorbing man they could always take a risk and do three villains and have Enchantress Executioner and Absorbing Man I really don’t know but the two guys writing its think are really good choices for it they really seem to like the character having written for him before. I’m really interested in who is directing Thor 3 it’s not Taylor I’m pretty sure about that buti wonder who they’ll get I also wonder who is going to direct the next hulk movie if there is one I’m choosing to believe ferrigno words for hulk I would say a lesser known director like a tv person I think would help a lot I don’t know why that’s just how I feel. Really excited about marvels future.

      • Dude, breathe…

  9. RDJ will only be appearing in Avengers:AOU, and if he doesn’t die, Avengers 3. Iron Man 4 will feature a new Tony Stark.

    • Finally … a definitive … answer?

  10. How about we just have Tony Stark gets scarred up bad and needs facial surgery so he comes out looking different. Then we can not feel weird about a new actor.


  11. I’m sure this has been said by others before but I’ll say it again. Assuming they use Thanos in A3, they should then offer RDJ the money and do IM4 straight after A3, possibly a 2 parter, with an AIM storyline. Then use Kang in A4 to reboot the continuity. Again I would love that to be a 2/3 parter as an epic send off for this crop of actors. They could, if they extend all contracts until then, use A4 with Kang to reboot IM, Cap and maybe Thor, dunno how long Hemsworth wants to stick around, and any others they want to reboot. Just a thought

    • I imagine, with all the stress on his body to keep in that ridiculous shape, Hemsworth won’t want to do it too much longer than his fellow Avengers…

      • I think that is just part of Hemsworth’s job really…has he been in a movie where he wasn’t cut up ripped or buff? Even in Rush he was ripped. I think as long as he’s acting he’s going to be a big buff dude.

        • Cabin in the Woods.. Wasn’t that buff in there (I believe)

  12. Yes I think they should. With Feige talking about possibly doing 3 movies a year. I think its very feasible that Iron Man 3 could come out around Christmas next year, They’ve got Ant-Man coming out in July, and not anything until almost a year later, I think they should end the year with Iron Man leading into Captain America 3, which could lead into something new like Dr. Strange or Black Panther.

  13. There is a “real” Mandarin! They revealed this in the Marvel one shot on Thor: the Dark World’s release. I am stoked about it! It lets me enjoy IM3 without feeling guilty. If you are fans you should see all of the one shots. Good little stories.

  14. There are many great options for IM4 but I think the best solution in my opinion would be to have Tony Stark (RDJ) killed off in Avengers 3 and reboot Iron Man in IM4 with another character, maybe that Harley kid from IM3. He’s a good possibility I mean they really put a lot of effort and development into that character for them to waste it. Or maybe Pepper and Tony have a child and then the child becomes Iron man in IM4, this will reboot the Iron Man character and not the franchise with the least amount of damage, it won’t be Tony Stark but maybe it can be a “stark” descendant. Or maybe the Harley kid becomes a nemesis to the Stark child and they fight for Tony Stark’s legacy or something… I’m getting ahead of myself and I know there is nothing like this in the comics, Oh man.

    I think the 4 most important elements to preserve in the current Iron Man franchise is obviously: RDJ, Iron Man, Tony Stark, The continuity of the MCU. But people just can’t let RDJ and Tony Stark go but you can’t sustain this any longer without rebooting this franchise, RDJ’s salary and compensation is ridiculous and unsustainable, plus he’s aging. The most important thing is the MCU and then Iron Man, you can’t compromise on these two elements, RDJ and Tony Stark had a great run, but I mean I think we have to let go and reboot.

    Only thing is I’m sure there is nothing like this scenario in the comics so maybe that’s why it might not be a good idea, because it didn’t come from the comics so maybe there will be a backlash with Pepper and Tony having a child, but I might be mistaken because I haven’t read a lot of Iron Man comics.

    Tony Stark and Iron Man are the only reasons I was interested in the MCU. I loved all three films (even IM2) and they are the only good MCU movies so far along with the Avengers obviously (I haven’t watched CATWS but the first CAP movie was horrible and I really can’t get into Thor). So I do care for this Iron Man franchise a lot. Marvel should reboot the character of Iron Man without rebooting the franchise and jeopardizing the whole MCU.

  15. Why not just let Cobie Smulders wear the armor for a movie? Who wouldn’t like to see that? She would be brand spankin new to the abilities, but not a dummy to combat…would be a fun watch.

  16. I hope RDJ will extend his contract for Iron Man 4. It can be his final Marvel film. I want to see him face off against the real Mandarin and possibly some other villain(s).

    BTW, doesn’t GotG take place in the future? Meaning, wouldn’t everything that happens in these current MCU films have already happened? How could the GotG potentially team up with the Avengers to fight Thanos in Avengers 3? Time travel?

  17. I would always try to avoid recasting at all times unless the actor doesn’t work or something like that and it doesn’t seem like the case with Downey I hope he doesn’t get recasted and if they are smart I think they will avoid it, a lot of people can’t picture anyone else but Junior in the role something about it is different from James Bond to me, I guess I see Stark as more of a real person than Bond and more personable to Junior than Bond was to any of the actors who played him I would vote after Avengers 3 just retire the character if you really want to do Iron Man 4 cool I’m totally game for that I liked the first and third one a lot it would also be a good chance for Marvel to introduce the real Mandarin which I would love to see but it would be a while until that movie would happen I can live without Iron Man 4 if it happens I’m all for it if it doesn’t I would play it safe and just stick with retiring Tony Stark and finding a new Superhero to be the face of the universe. We’ll have to see what happens.

    • Junior?

  18. Seeing that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are being introduced in an Avengers movie, I’d find it more interesting if Nova (Richard Rider) was introduced in an Avengers movie starring Thanos. Instead of Zorr being a reason for Rich to get his powers, Thanos would be a great substitute.

    To do all this would really market well with those who don’t know Rich. They kind of did this with Sam (Nova) for the Avengers vs X-Men event. By using an event to introduce a new character.

  19. Iron Man 4 would be neat, but that top picture really has me excited for Iron Man IU!

  20. I would want IM 4 just to see the real Mandarin at his best.

    Also, I think they need to recast War Machine if they have plans for the character. with all due respect, Don Cheadle doesnt look like a serious kick ass afroamerican. he looks like a slender african who would get a beating without any major effort.

    • And Downey Jr looks like an imposing figure? Lol, that’s why he has the War Machine suit.

  21. He needs to be in the film that introduces the Iron Monger, we need to see that pronto. And then they should relase Kang the Conquerer from the outer realms which will start the whole descent into the Civil War, as they fight Kang and Thanos. Kang can also lay waste to Cap along with the Taskmaster.

    Then, as Iron Man he should accidentally release the seal to Fin Fang Foom setting up a spoiler plot device that could have the Avengers face their greatest foe of all in Avengers 4. I like the idea.

    • Iron Monger was introduced… in Iron Man 1.

  22. I’m really not interested in IM4 after the crap they pulled in the last one, but I know it’s inevitable given it’s success. It’d be alright if they just continue with where All Hail the King left off, and finally brought in the real Mandarin, and for god’s sakes stay away from Drew Pearce and Shane Black. I wish they’d just go ahead and finally make a Hulk sequel

  23. Can we at least get Drew Pearce off of this script? I feel marvel bank too much on unknown talent, it has both paid off and done poorly Maybe getting a proven director and screen writer would be better

    AND BTW, they should get Peter Jackson for Thor 3, can you imagine

    • Then the movie would be 3 hours long, separated into 3 parts and have an extended edition come out a year later. Actually, that may not be a bad idea.

  24. Do an Iron Man IV that deals with Stark taking on the real Mandarin and then pass it off to War Machine. Stark can take a cameo role as a leader in the Avengers or a new SHIELD. Rhodey can handle Iron Man’s combat role as War Machine…and make him War Machine again with a black suit. I didn’t really like the Iron Patriot idea. Maybe make a West Coast Avengers with War Machine in charge.

    • Yeah, Iron Patriot sucks. War Machine cosplaying Cap was a bad idea. By the way, the Avengers already are the West Coast Avengers: Stark lives in LA in the movies.

  25. I’m down for Iron Man 4, but please for the love of god do not get Shane Black to direct it. Find someone else please.

  26. Get the Russo bro’s and Jon Favreau to work together on part 4!

  27. Well id pass on ironman 4. Reason, leave room for new properties like inhumans and dr.strange, hulk, and a ms. Marvel/captain marvel..

    That is why I’m not for a 4 the ironman….also don’t get me started on my disapointment.

  28. Just watched a bootleg of All Hail The King on YT. Loved it, can’t wait to see the real Mandarin somewhere down the line. To all the people theorizing they’ll kill RDJ off, nope. They’re going to kill Cap off and you know where that story goes. They can’t have Civil War without Iron Man, so Marvel will either figure something out with RDJ or they’ll recast. I seem to remember someone on this site suggesting James Franco could take his place. He has the acting chops, the humor, and with a stylish goatee – he could resemble RDJ just enough. People will have their qualms about it, but if he proves himself it could work.

  29. don’t worry they will just CGI RDJ’s face on a stand in’s body for the next 20 years lol

    • He can be the next Paul Walker or Philip Seymore Hoffman, just not dead.

      • Dude, that was in poor taste.