Of the most requested Marvel Studios films by fans and media, Iron Man 4 sits near the top. It's no surprise given that Iron Man 3 is the 5th top grossing film of all-time, sitting just two spots beyond fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, The Avengers, in the billion dollar club. The bankability of the Iron Man series is as impressive as how much money star Robert Downey Jr. earns from playing the character and this is the one major hurdle Marvel has in planning out its future.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Disney and Marvel Studios were able to come to an agreement with Robert Downey Jr. after Iron Man 3 to bring him back for two more appearances (it reportedly wasn't easy), in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (which has already finished shooting) and the untitled Avengers 3 (probably coming in 2018). After that, there's nothing in the cards despite Iron Man 3 director Shane Black believing that RDJ will continue playing the character.
Even if he doesn't, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has long talked up the idea that Tony Stark, the man in the armor, could be played by other actors in a James Bond sort of way. For RDJ himself, he's never really said no to the idea, even jokingly admitting that recasting could be good for him personally.
He's made his money, he's made his fame and he's going to be 50 years old when Age of Ultron opens in theaters in May. He's not getting any younger, and he suffered a major leg injury while shooting Iron Man 3. Adding these facts to the lengthy time requirements of an Iron Man production and the obligatory worldwide press tour, and it's no surprise to hear the following words from the star in response to a question this week of whether or not there are any plans for Iron Man 4:
"There isn't one in the pipe. No, there’s no plan for a fourth Iron Man."
Robert Downey Jr. revealed that tidbit while chatting with Variety during the Toronto International Film Festival where his new film The Judge is being presented. Would we accept or "let" another actor take on the role?
"I like that the idea is that it would be up to me, like I’m casting director for Marvel"
In July, Marvel Studios added six additional release dates to their already busy schedule over the next five years, giving them eight in total. We have a pretty clear idea of what a few of those are, but RDJ's words seemingly indicate that Iron Man 4 is not among them. That doesn't necessarily mean it won't be and it certainly doesn't mean the actor is done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe after The Avengers 3.
There are plenty of easy ways to keep Tony Stark involved for years to come in a support capacity; by having him become director of S.H.I.E.L.D., by having him only show up in Avengers team-ups or even having him join the Guardians of the Galaxy in one of its sequels just like the character did in the comics last year. After all, Robert Downey Jr. did compliment Guardians by saying it's Marvel's best film.
Marvel is absolutely interested in Iron Man 4. They even surveyed fans about it. It's an easy billion dollar box office hit, after all. As for the man with Marvel's largest salary ever, Downey Jr. says it's up to Disney making the right offer.
Do you want RDJ to make a fourth Iron Man down the road? Should Tony Stark be killed off? Would you like RDJ to stick around in a supporting capacity for years to come? Or should they recast? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017, July 28 2017, November 3 2017, July 6 2018, November 2 2018 and May 3 2019.
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