After The Avengers set box office records around the world in 2012, Iron Man 3 helped Marvel Studios complete a one-two punch of billion dollar box office club entries the following summer. At the time, Iron Man 3 stars Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle were not contracted to return for any more films after, but it didn't take long for Marvel and RDJ to come to an agreement that would see him return for The Avengers 2 & 3.
We know for The Avengers followup next summer, subtitled Age of Ultron, Cheadle also makes a guest appearance. We can only hope he has a larger role to play in future movies as well because right now, there are no current plans for Iron Man 4. Downey Jr. revealed as much at the Toronto International Film Festival last month when premiering his latest feature, The Judge.
Earlier in the summer, the highest paid man in Hollywood left the possibility of a return for Iron Man 4 open, stating that it's really just down to Disney and Marvel making the right offer - another massive payday, but there's more to it than that. RDJ wants to work with the right people. He was instrumental in getting Shane Black to direct and co-write Iron Man 3 after working with him years earlier on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. And when it comes to what happens with Tony Stark next, even in The Avengers movies, he has approval as well.
If Stark needs to be recast one day, Downey Jr. will have a say. And Iron Man 4 will only exist if he's interested. Fortunately for fans, Shane Black believes Downey Jr. will continue playing Stark but it may be as simple as giving the star even more of what he wants and what he really wants is for Hollywood to give Mel Gibson another chance. Years ago, when Robert Downey Jr. was enduring the roughest patch of his life, battling drugs and the law, Mel Gibson helped put him on the right path. In 2011 Downey had won the American Cinematheque Award and chose Gibson to present it, using the opportunity to let the world know that Gibson is a good man, a changed man, and needed another shot.
"Unless you are without sin – and if you are, you are in the wrong fucking industry, you should forgive him and let him work... This is my fuckin’ time. Mel and I have the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. I couldn’t get hired and he cast me. He said if I accepted responsibility – he called it hugging the cactus – long enough, my life would take meaning. And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to assume the next guy would be him."
It made sense then that at the beginning of 2014 Robert Downey Jr. was reportedly trying to get Gibson a gig in the Marvel family. Whether that happens in any form remains to be seen, but there's no denying Gibon's talent in front and behind the camera - he even managed to be one of the few enjoyable parts of The Expendables 3. Can you imagine Gibson directing a superhero movie? Iron Man 4? When chatting with Deadline this week, Robert Downey Jr. certainly could and he said that'd be something that would easily make him return for Iron Man 4.
"Why not? That movie would be bananas."
It's mostly a throwaway statement but Marvel Studios is certainly serious about making Iron Man 4 happen. Remember, despite all the success and love for Guardians of the Galaxy, and the records it set for the month of August, Iron Man 3 still made nearly twice as much.
Want Iron Man 4 to be a part of Marvel's Phase 3 and one of their seven unannounced films with release dates in the first five years? Should Marvel consider letting Mel Gibson direct one of their features or play a role in one of them? They did give Robert Downey Jr. a chance after all and look how that turned out...
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!