The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues its expansion with Phase 3, beginning this year with the highly anticipated Captain America: Civil War and later with the introduction of the Sorcerer Supreme in Doctor Strange. Phase 3 will reach its highest point with the first part of the third Avengers movie – scheduled for a 2018 release, with the second part coming in 2019.
Avengers: Infinity War will change the MCU as we know it, and although it’s still too early to start speculating on who will make it through and who will get the axe, one of the biggest questions is what will happen with some of the MCU’s major characters in regard to their solo endeavors – especially those of Iron Man and the man behind the armor: Tony Stark. Or, to put it in more real-world terms: Will Robert Downey Jr. ever play the part of the Armored Avenger in a fourth solo adventure?
It has been long rumored that Robert Downey Jr. could put on the Iron Man suit again for one more solo movie, but nothing has been confirmed. There was also some speculation that Iron Man 4 could move forward at some point with another actor – that is, of course, if Marvel doesn’t extend Downey’s contract as it has done before. But given his high-profile role in next week's third Captain America film, and the actor's scheduled appearance in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, it seems likely that Marvel will continue to deposit large sums of money into RDJ's bank account, to ensure he sticks around as Tony Stark for a little while longer.
In fact, in a recent behind-the-scenes feature from ABC News, Downey Jr. spoke briefly about the future of his character in the MCU, dropping a single but very telling line:
"I feel like I could do one more."
Downey Jr. has been in the MCU from its very beginning, appearing in three solo Iron Man films and three ensemble movies (not to mention his appearance in the end-credits sequence of The Incredible Hulk) – The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and now, Captain America: Civil War. It’s fair to say that audiences are well accustomed to seeing him as Tony Stark, so if a fourth Iron Man movie is to happen, fans will most likely receive it with arms wide open. However, it’s hard to say where this solo-sequel could fit, as the lineup for Phase 3 is already full – though there could always be a shift on the schedule. Supposing Iron Man 4 gets a place in Phase 4, we can only hope Downey Jr. is still up for reprising his role as the playboy philanthropist.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.