Robert Downey, Jr. has opened up on eventually having to give up his Iron Man suit. For the past nine years, the actor has become synonymous with the character of Tony Stark, playing the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist in eight films, the latest of which is next week's Spider-Man: Homecoming. In that time he's proven to be essential to Marvel Cinematic Universe, a mega-franchise his 2008 debut helped kick-start.
Given Downey, Jr.'s pivotal involvement in building the franchise in the last decade, it is difficult to imagine what the MCU would look like without Iron Man in it. However, while many would no doubt love to have him keep returning Tony Stark ad infinitum, the actor has recently admitted there is a limit.
In a new interview with News.com.au while promoting Homecoming, Downey Jr. has discussed the impending possibility of eventually walking away from the role:
“Everyone says to me it’s like a glove that fits so well. I have to start over every time but I am starting over with a pretty solid base. I just never want to blow it for the last six or seven [movies] I have done by dropping the ball because I decided to go do it one more time. I just want to hang up my jersey before it’s embarrassing."
The 52-year-old also briefly touched on the reason why he kept coming back to make these movies, citing Marvel's tried and tested formula coupled with the great people he is given the ability to work with as his main reasons:
"It’s this cyclical thing I could have said when the first Avengers came out: ‘It’s never going to get any better than that. Everybody stop’. But to me it’s always about people and opportunities, like the (Avengers directors Anthony and Joe) Russos, who I adore."
Downey Jr. has become some form of franchise glue in the MCU over the last couple of years, with pivotal parts in ensemble films like the Avengers properties and Captain America: Civil War. Despite that, we haven't seen him in another standalone film since Iron Man 3 in 2013 and despite the massive interest in an Iron Man 4 there are no plans for it in the foreseeable future given MCU's jam-packed slate. In the pages of the comics, Stark has already passed the baton to his protege, Riri Williams, which could also be an indication of Marvel planning to move on from its founding hero.
Because of those considerations, the possibility of the actor's departure has been on the cards for some time, and based on these new statements he's definitely beginning to think about moving on. Indeed, with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirming that some of MCU's pioneering superheroes might meet their end in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, Stark may already be on borrowed time.
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