Robert Downey Jr. could return as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man in an Ironheart movie - and here's how. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is only a few months removed from its biggest loss to date. Avengers: Endgame saw Iron Man sacrifice his life to use the Infinity Stones and wipe away Thanos' entire army. It marked the end of an eleven year run for RDJ as Iron Man, one where he became one of the biggest stars on the planet thanks to his role in launching the MCU.
The death of Iron Man has, however, left many wondering what will come next for this Iron Man mantle and if anyone else will continue on his legacy. Spider-Man: Far From Home shows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) grappling with the idea of being the "new Iron Man" but there are several other options on the table. Pre-existing characters like James Rhodes and Pepper Potts could fill the spot for the time being as War Machine and Rescue respectively, while Harley Keener could become Iron Lad potentially or Morgan Stark fill her father's shoes in a few years.
One of the most popular (and most likely) choices though is Riri Williams aka Ironheart. She is one of the more recent additions to Marvel Comics and took over the mantle in a sense after Tony fell into a deep coma. In the comics though, she also has a few connections with Tony Stark and fans are hoping that such a relationship will carry over in the MCU. As detailed in a new video from Screen Rant, an Ironheart movie could include this relationship and be an avenue for Robert Downey Jr. to return.
The first way that an Ironheart movie could bring back RDJ is in a physical sense. If the MCU does want Riri and Tony to have some relationship before her becoming a superhero, then her solo film could span several years and show this bond forming. It would continue the recent Marvel Studios trend of jumping around the timeline to tell different stories and give them an origin film that is distinctly different from the many they've done before. Of course, they could just as easily get RDJ to return for only a few flashback scenes.
To either build off of this possibility or as a shortcut to all of this, the MCU could also bring RDJ back for a Riri Williams solo film as the A.I. version of Tony. This is something that is also straight from the comics and set up as a possibility through Tony's hologram goodbye video in Avengers: Endgame. This would be a much simpler role for RDJ to return as, likely meaning that he wouldn't even need to be on set for most of his part.
At this point though, it is not yet confirmed whether or not Riri Williams is the way that Marvel Studios plans to go. If it is, there is also no guarantee that Downey will return to the role. He appears ready to move on and has accepted that his time with the character is over, so he may not be all that interested in coming back so soon. However, as time goes on and the proposed check for his work increases, we can't count anything out, especially since RDJ himself is calling for her MCU debut. So if Marvel Studios does decide that Ironheart is the future, they will then have to figure out whether or not to include Stark too. And most importantly, both of these options wouldn't require Marvel Studios to reverse or undercut his role in Avengers: Endgame.