It’s not easy being a superhero. And, as this summer’s billion-dollar-grossing Iron Man 3 proved, the more existential crises a hero faces during the course of the story, the more audiences will flock to the theater. Hot on the heels of that movie’s wild success, Marvel faced some serious challenges in signing Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark/Iron Man beyond the “Phase 2″ films.

Downey has publicly discussed the possibility that he’ll have to retire from the role eventually… so who could take over? Well, how about Mark Wahlberg?

In recent interview with Yahoo! Movies UK (watch it above) to drum up publicity for his action-comedy 2 Guns, Wahlberg was remarkably candid about the state of blockbusters these days, touching on the too-common “end of the world” plot running in so many of our summer movies and observing that “It’s all kinda the same s***.” 

When asked about which (if any) comic book or superhero roles he might see himself playing, Wahlberg replied:

“I would like to take over the ‘Iron Man’ franchise for Robert Downey… [but] it’s one of those things where I kind of like playing real people, [so] I’ve never been asked.”

While the line does sound like he’s at least half-joking, Wahlberg might have been thinking about this line for awhile. He’s had an impressive and varied career, but his role in Transformers 4 is really the first time he’s been involved in a greased-up money-making machine established franchise (outside of Entourage, which he appeared in as himself and executive produced).

Wahlberg does note that he was apparently considered for the role of Robin in (presumably) Batman Forever, and acknowledges that “Somebody dodged a bullet!”  Max Payne was a non-starter as a potential series, a planned sequel to The Italian Job never happened, and the less said about Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, the better.

Marvel Studios is famous for securing talent for long-term, multi-picture deals (Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo for six films each, Samuel L. Jackson for nine) while “low-balling” their salaries (Mickey Rourke received $250,000 for his turn as the villain in Iron Man 2; RDJ famously received upwards of $50 million for his role in The Avengers while his co-stars earned significantly less). Negotiations with RDJ briefly hit an impasse, with Marvel president Kevin Feige telling Entertainment Weekly that he could see multiple actors playing Iron Man in future installments:

“I believe there will be a fourth ‘Iron Man’ and a fifth, sixth and a 10th and a 20th. I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond, Batman, or for that matter, Spider-Man.”

The statement seemed like a clear signal to Downey and his court that Marvel was willing to replace him, and it was also a way to prepare fans for the eventuality that another actor would take the role – and sooner rather than later. Of course, the comment was more of a negotiating ploy than a real mission statement, as Downey soon signed on for The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the inevitable Avengers 3.

But as we pointed out above, Downey is aware of his age, and beyond that, he’s an actor who in his pre-Iron Man years was known for a run of interesting, grounded roles in movies like Zodiac, Wonder Boys, and Good Night, and Good Luck. After the first Iron Man propelled him into the stratosphere, he’s taken on another franchise with the Sherlock Holmes movies and high-concept studio fare like Due Date and Tropic Thunder.

Just as we’ll have to get used to a new Batman (soon), and a new James Bond (eventually), Downey will walk away from the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man at some point… but not until the end of the decade, at least. Wahlberg won’t be too much younger than Downey by then, but he arguably possesses a greater aptitude for the physicality required for the role, so the idea makes sense on that level. Still, Downey is the superstar of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is expected to keep the part at least until The Avengers 3, which is expected in 2018. If Transformers 4 manages to launch a whole new trilogy for that franchise, Wahlberg may want to stick with that.

What about you, Screen Ranters? Would Mark Wahlberg be able to erase our memories of RDJ and take up the power armor? Sound off!

Source: Yahoo! Movies UK