Despite the record-level success of Iron Man 3 in its first few weeks since release, some of the latest headlines surrounding the theatrical return of the Armored Avenger haven't been so positive, focusing on the reality that Robert Downey Jr. is not signed for any further appearances. With reports pointing towards a $70-80 million payout for his appearance in The Avengers and similarly high number numbers expected for the Iron Man threequel, the notoriously money-cautious Marvel Studios faces quite a financial challenge in signing RDJ for an extended contract, along with other key players who've yet to sign for The Avengers 2.
According to one of the actors involved, the situation may be slightly overblown even though it is evident that one day, Marvel Studios will have to recast the Tony Stark character.
Speaking with Moviefone while promoting Now You See Me, Mark Ruffalo touched on the topic of the reports about contract negotiations and issues Marvel is facing for The Avengers sequel, playing unaware of the situation.
"I haven't caught wind of any of that. I was surprised to hear it, because I don't even think anyone's really started negotiating yet."
He also joked about there being no need for fans to panic about their heroes being recast but did say cautiously that actors are usually the last ones to find out about these sorts of changes.
"I think so. I'd be really sad if they did. I can't imagine that. That would be bad. 'That would not be good,' as Joss Whedon would say... I'd love to come back as The Hulk. I don't foresee not coming back as The Hulk."
This next little bit enters spoiler territory for Iron Man 3 so for those who didn't contribute to the film's near-one-billion-dollar worldwide box office haul, you may not want to read ahead.
Rumors over the last year pointed towards post-credit 'button' scenes at the end of Iron Man 3 possibly teasing Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy - and while Marvel Studios did have their own idea at one point as to what to do at the end - the end result was something that oddly favored fun over teasing or marketing other Phase Two features. According to Ruffalo, it may have been Robert Downey Jr.'s idea:
"We were doing the Academy Awards and Robert [Downey Jr.] said, 'Hey, what do you think about coming and doing a cameo In Iron Man?' So he pitched the idea of the theme and I said, 'I would love to do that.' So, ten days later, I'm on a plane to L.A. and we're shooting that scene. It was a lot of fun. It was written, but we improvised a little bit and Shane gave us some adjustments. I haven't seen it yet, though. Robert thought it would be a good cap to all of the rest of the Iron Man story."
He also said that he's still signed on for five more films, meaning his cameo appearance in IM3 may not have counted as one of those options.
With Iron Man 3 poised the cross the billion dollar mark this week, should Marvel Studios have taken advantage of the opportunity to tease this fall's Thor sequel or next year's ambitious and risky Guardians of the Galaxy?
Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes if you're hoping to see more of Mark Ruffalo's Hulk.