Nowadays, it’s hard to look at Robert Downey Jr. and not think about Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as he was part of it from the very beginning, and because he's only appeared in five non-Marvel movies over the past decade, some of which were just cameos. The MCU kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, starring Downey as the eponymous hero, and has since produced over 20 movies, with a lot more currently in development.
Iron Man was the hero who started it all, and Downey reprised his role for nine more movies, including his cameo in The Incredible Hulk and his appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Downey’s time in the MCU came to an end with Avengers: Endgame, which marked the end of the arc of Iron Man by giving him a truly heroic death. Downey is reportedly appearing in one more Marvel movie (Black Widow, in 2020), and after that he will be free to take part in as many different projects as he pleases – and definitely more than he has done in the last decade.
Downey’s film credits in the last 10 years are mostly Marvel properties: Iron Man 2 and 3, the four Avengers movies, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Spider-Man: Far From Home, although he only appeared in this one through archive footage. Outside the world of superheroes, Downey took part in five movies, out of which two were in cameo roles. The first one was Todd Phillips’ Due Date, in 2010, alongside Zach Galifianakis, in which Downey played Peter Highman, an architect who has to get across the country in time for the birth of his child, but is forced to road-trip with an aspiring actor (Galifianakis). Next was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, where he played the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and which left viewers with a big cliffhanger, waiting to be solved in the near future.
Following Iron Man 3, Downey had a cameo in Jon Favreau’s Chef, and then went on to star in The Judge, which he also produced. In it, he played Hank Palmer, a brilliant yet shady attorney who goes back to his hometown after learning that his mother passed away, and the tension between him and his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall), reemerges. After that, Downey had an uncredited, semi-hidden cameo in Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Downey “played” the body of Sid Shattuck, found by Gosling’s character at a party.
Downey already has some projects waiting to be released and in development that are not part of the Marvel universe. He stars in the fantasy adventure comedy Dolittle as veterinarian Dr. John Dolittle, to be released in early 2020, and is part of Jamie Foxx’s sports comedy All-Star Weekend. Perhaps the most exciting title among his upcoming projects is Sherlock Holmes 3, as fans have been waiting for years to know how he survived the Reichenbach Fall in this version (and how Watson is going to react). The end of Robert Downey Jr.’s time in the MCU doesn’t mean the audience won’t get to see more of him – he’s just going to change genres and characters from now on.