Will Robert Downey Jr. Retire from ‘Iron Man’ After ‘The Avengers 2′?

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iron man main Will Robert Downey Jr. Retire from Iron Man After The Avengers 2?

Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe is about to kick-off with Iron Man 3 – meaning superhero fans are on the cusp of an interconnected set of film experiences unlike anything seen on the big screen before. In addition to Iron Man 3, 2013 will include Thor: The Dark World, then in 2014 Steve Rogers will return for Captain America: The Winter Solider and the studio will debut an entirely new set of heroes in Guardians of the Galaxy – all leading up to The Avengers 2 in 2015 (along with Edgar Wright’s highly-anticipated Ant-Man project).

Of course, along with titular characters, Marvel films often introduce important supporting players (such as Black Widow, Nick Fury, and War Machine) – a trend that we already know will continue in Phase Two. As a result, the Marvel stable of movie heroes is growing rapidly, causing some fans to wonder what the future might entail for some of the original cast members – especially franchise hype man Robert Downey Jr.

Downey has kept busy in his Marvel role since debuting in 2008 as Iron Man – churning out four Tony Stark starring roles in five years (not including his Incredible Hulk cameo). As a result, with no sign of Marvel reducing the amount of movies they intend to explore through their shared universe, industry insiders have begun to speculate on the in-demand star’s future interests. Tony Stark hasn’t prevented Downey from taking other projects (Sherlock Holmes, Due Date, etc) but it has, without question, significantly limited the number of non-Marvel films he can accept each year.

Sherlock Holmes 2 Game of Shadows Clips Will Robert Downey Jr. Retire from Iron Man After The Avengers 2?

Now, in an interview with GQ, speaking about the injury he sustained on the Iron Man 3 set, Downey suggests he’s starting to wonder how many installments in the series he’ll headline – before the ride is no longer fun:

“[The injury] got me thinking about how big the message from your cosmic sponsor needs to be before you pick it up. How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun? Because, as quiet as it’s kept, I come from a family of very innovative writers and directors and actors and artists, and the circle of friends they were in were the people I heard having pun-offs playing poker at two in the morning, and it was just the most comforting aspect of my childhood. So there’s this kind of legacy of souls from what I consider to be a very particular time in entertainment, and I’m sensing a return to that—it’s what me and the missus are doing next. It’s not unlike: I heard Brady signed on for three more years with New England, and then he’s done being a QB, because he’ll be 40. I’m 47, and I’ll be 50.”

After GQ posted their interview, the Internet responded with fans and insiders speculating that Downey may not have simply been waxing poetic – that he was actually hinting at walking away from Tony Stark after The Avengers 2.

First off, it’s important to note that the quote was framed by Downey talking about his injury – which led the actor to consider the strain of blockbuster movies and his aging body. Future Marvel productions could easily take precautions (more stunt doubles, CGI models, etc) to ensure that similar injuries don’t occur – whether the actor signs-on for two or twenty-two more Marvel films. Furthermore, as Downey ages, his role doesn’t have to be as physical – as the character could, down the road, spend less time in the Iron Man suit and more time advising and supporting younger Avengers heroes. For that reason, while the quote focuses heavily on Downey’s age and physical limitations, odd-are that, should the actor walk away from the Marvel universe, it will be because he’s burned out on the character.

Iron Man 3 Preview Tony Stark Farmhouse workshop Will Robert Downey Jr. Retire from Iron Man After The Avengers 2?

Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time the actor has addressed questions about his future with the franchise and, looking at the bigger shared universe strategy, it’s much more likely that Downey isn’t going anywhere. Instead, as we’ve asserted numerous times on the Screen Rant Underground podcast, Marvel will utilize their steadily growing roster of characters to take some pressure off of the main Avengers – rotating them in and out as the series presses forward. This isn’t to say that the Phase Three Avengers team-up will only see Ant-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange together but, depending on cast member interest, it’s possible that Marvel might, for example, hold-off on Iron Man 4 until Phase Four – allowing Downey (in this case) a lengthy break.

After all, only one month ago at the Iron Man 3 press day, Downey told us that he would likely be back for The Avengers 2 (even though his four picture deal concludes with Iron Man 3) because he likes being a “company man.” The actor further added that there are still elements of the character that he wants to explore:

“There’s, to me, that kind of wish list or grab bag of things. ‘We haven’t been able to get this in the movie yet—maybe this time we’ll get to—!’ or whatever. I put so much onus on Iron Man 3. Iron Man 3 was supposed to answer all the questions for the audience, cure all of my uncomfortable moments in the past with playing this character, and get in every idea that fell by the wayside in the last three movies. And then we shot the movie and I still feel there’s a couple other things we’ve gotta do.”

Iron Man 3 Trailer TCL Will Robert Downey Jr. Retire from Iron Man After The Avengers 2?

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s pretty clear that Downey isn’t done with the character yet. Marvel Studios head, Kevin Feige has previously claimed that Marvel is prepared to recast key roles if necessary (a la James Bond) but everyone knows that wouldn’t be ideal – especially in the case of Tony Stark. Assuming Disney is willing to give the actor some time away from the Marvel universe, Downey could easily get excited about returning to Tony Stark for future installments – assuming they were a bit more spread out than the pre-Avengers movie slate. In fact, a year ago, Downey stated that as long as Marvel was cognizant of the series’ quality, he’d be interested in showing up for Iron Man adventures.

Rushing out an Iron Man movie every three years would be hard on the cast, franchise, and shared universe storyline and, at this point, it’s unlikely that Disney even intends to punch out Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man movies in each “Phase” of the shared movie universe. Considering the amount of new (and less-grounded) characters that are on the horizon, Feige has stated that the filmmakers are keenly aware of franchise fatigue – as well as the dangers of over-saturating the market with too many superheroes.

Ultimately, Downey’s interest in non-Marvel projects may be a non-issue – allowing the actor to jump back into Iron Man armor at key moments (i.e. an inspired solo story or an Avengers team-up). The right amount of money will be a factor in any future Marvel movie appearance but with other actors taking key roles in the Marvel universe, Downey will have less responsibility on his shoulders. Should the actor be given more time for “artistic” personal projects, it’s easy to imagine that Disney will be able to work with Downey on acceptable compensation.

Iron Man 3 Hall of Armor Art Will Robert Downey Jr. Retire from Iron Man After The Avengers 2?

After all, while Marvel is notorious for low-balling potential cast members, Disney is known for rolling out dump trucks full of money for key stars - such as Johnny Depp who gets well-over $50 million for each Pirates of the Caribbean installment. Money will definitely be a factor but it’s probably less of a deal-breaker than Downey’s interest in diversifying his schedule.

As a result, will we see less of Downey in Phase Three of the Marvel cinematic universe? Probably. Is he going to be entirely done with the series after The Avengers 2? Not likely.

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Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.

Source: GQ

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Iron Man 3 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

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  1. I really think Downey is like the perfect Iron Man. Not because we already get used to see him in the Iron suit, but he also resembles to the comic Tony Stark, he is a movie icon who’s most recognized project is Iron Man, even though Iron Man 3 wasn’t his best work and it was a little bit disappointing in certain way. I would really enjoy watching him as Tony Stark at least until the Avengers Saga ends. It would be really hard if they recast Iron Man and many fans wouldn’t be happy, It would be worse than the transition from Tobey McGuire to Andrew Garfield on Spider-Man.

    • I think Nikolaj Coster-Waldau would make an EXCELLENT iron man if they decide to drop downey…the next actor has to be able to be charismatic, and a bit of a sad sack, an alcoholic and a rich ponce. hes PERFECT! =D

    • I really like rdj as ironman, but face it… He’s old!
      They need a fresh/young ironman. With the same characteristics as rdj/tony stark

  2. I personally love Robert Downey Jr’s personna and characterisation of Tony Stark – and I think many will agree here – he is now QUINTESSENTIAL to both Iron Man and MARVEL. He is, to the fans and the franchise,what Daniel Radcliffe was to Harry Potter.

    Downey Jr is completely and utterly irreplacable, not just because it was cause uproar within the fanbase and MARVEL community, but also because he personifies Stark with such acute accuracy.

    Robert as Stark should not leave the MARVEL universe for the forseeable future. It is entirely valid and plausible(and something I would enjoy seeing)that the comics are followed and we see Don Cheadle as Rhodey take the limelight as War Machine for a while. I think there is a lot to explore there. However, Downey as Stark should not be completely faded from the MARVEL universe; even if we only see him in small segements of the future films – acting as an advisor to The Avengers, or as similar and an engineer for Rhodey and his War Machine suit – Robert should remain around for the forseeable future.

    Taking Jr’s age into account, I believe his character of Stark should only be faded out once a new wave of both heros – and majority of viewers – has been ushered in. After that, (in my opinion) Stark should be laid to rest and never be recast due to the fact that Robert Downey Jr has paid such tribute to the character, and I believe a replacement would be an incredibly difficult feat. I could only ever see someone immitating Robert at best; and at worst… Killing Tony Stark’s character for us all.

    To conclude, in my opinion, for both the sake of the current and eternal fans, and for myself… Robert should stick around until either his age means it is inconcievable for him to continue any further, or his portrayal of Stark becomes obsolete amongst a new generation of heros and audience.

    Robert Downey Jr’s Stark will go down in movie history, and his character is solely responsible for bringing about the age of Hero movies.

  3. rdj should keep playing his role as tony stark if they have a different actor it would rune every iron man and avengers movies but i have to say he’s geting old i mean he’s now 48 and avengers 2 will be in 2015 and by then he’ll be 50 but i love rdj as tony stark so at least i think he can do it until he’s 60

  4. i agree with josca

  5. In all due respect, the quote from RDJ from line 1 sounds like the ramblings of an alcoholic who is much better at reading lines than actually creating them in one’s head and saying them; or a clever grifter wanting to hold a studio hostage. Maybe both. It has been made clear in two fims by numerous characters that the character of Thor and what he has introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is actually pivotal and important for the future of Marvel Studios.

    • i agree even stan lee said that man was born to be iron man!!!

  6. RDJ all the way! Weeeeee.

  7. In all do respect if they do replace RDJ, the iron man movies will never be the same again, and I guarantee you will lose a bunch of iron man fans and viewers….in my opinion if you switch actors in movies, the movie becomes unenjoyable for the viewers because you’ve seen RDJ play iron man since day one and he fits the character perfectly, you would probably have better luck not doing any more iron man movies then to start switching the main character (iron man) in the 4th movie.

  8. he is the tony staaaark i grew up with and replacing him is killing iron man.

  9. which we know now he has signed up for too more marvel’s the avengers moveies yay :D

  10. I agree with you jay robert Downey Jr is a great iron man and you rob you are wrong

  11. It’s funny how everybody keeps saying he’s “too old” to keep playing Iron Man, lol. Samuel L. Jackson is 65! Kelsey Grammer was 51 when he played Beast in Last Stand. Jack Nicholson was 52 when he played Joker. The point being is that when you’re rich, and not working a regular 9-5, have personal trainers on stand by, and take decent care of yourself, you can take acting roles, physical acting roles, till you’re about dead. Most of the real physical work is done by stunt doubles anyway…

  12. Theres no one that could play the role as Tony Stark Except Robert Downey Jr.

  13. Honestly, Robert Downey Jr. shouldn’t retire from being Tony Stark or “Iron Man.” Don’t you hate when you’re watching an ongoing series and someone else fills in the spot?? I hate it forsure. For example, Megan Fox had a lot of rumors going around that she was going to star in wonder women and wanted more money to be in Tranformers. In the movie they viewed her as the one who broke Shia LeBeouf’s heart. I was devastated because no one can really replace anyone. You either kill off people or do things like that! I could be wrong, but hey. I just want Downey to finish what he started because he’s an amazing actor and can do anything. Replacing him would give audiences a bad taste while watching the movie.

  14. Has anyone ever read the comics, or more to my point looked at the artwork, the characters features since the early sixties have changed over and over and not one person I know of is bothered, as long as the guy who replaces Downey jr. can pull of the tony stark attitude, then I have absolutely no problem with the actor.

  15. The article’s quiz left out a fourth option: Keep RDJ around forever as a leader and mentor and designer of new tech while handing the armor off to Rhodey.

  16. If RDJ is out, they should not replace him with a new Tony Stark. A new Iron Man…fine. A new actor for Tony Stark…absolutely not. Wait until this series of movies finishes and bring in a new actor for the reboot. One of the worst things about the comics is the lack of continuity and while the movies aren’t perfect it would really hurt things for me if Tony Stark showed up with a different face.

  17. I really want to see Robert Downey as IronMan because I think and I knows that he is the best Ironman actor. I really enjoyed the ironman 3 but I am a little bit disappointed because Robert Downey got injury between the shooting. I will say that Robert Downey is the best and very best Ironman Actor