Tony Stark/Iron Man may be Robert Downey Jr.'s career-defining role, but it shouldn't be forgotten: the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't the only franchise that RDJ has under his belt. The actor has now played iconic super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes twice on the big screen, in the Guy Ritchie-directed Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (released in 2009 and 2011, respectively). It's long been a foregone conclusion that Sherlock Holmes 3 will happen eventually too, seeing as the previous films headlined by RDJ as Holmes (and Jude Laws as Holmes' loyal associate, Dr. Watson) both grossed over half a billion dollars worldwide in theaters alone.
RDJ has stayed busy over the past five years making several Marvel Studios films - including, most recently, Captain America: Civil War - while Ritchie has likewise kept himself preoccupied with directing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as the forthcoming King Arthur re-telling; over the same time, Law has further carved out a niche for himself as a character actor on the indie film circuit (see Dom Hemingway, Black Sea) and most recently re-united with Ritchie on King Arthur. All three talents may soon re-team for another romp in Victorian-era England, if Downey is to be believed.
Downey, when interviewed by ShortList as part of the ongoing promotional tour for Civil War, revealed that Sherlock Holmes 3 is still in active development, clarifying that “We’re talking about it right now. We can do some preliminary stuff.” The actor then noted that if everything works out, production on the third Sherlock Holmes installment will get started later this year:
“If we could shoot it on Skype, we could have the whole [movie] done in a week. When we’re making those Sherlock movies it is off the hook. [So] we’ll attempt to make one this year. It really is a big deal to go and do those movies. I’m tired all the time, but I’m so excited about it."
Sherlock Holmes 3 is being written by Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation co-writer Drew Pearce, as well as Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes and Man from U.N.C.L.E. co-writer Lionel Wigram. The latter screenwriter confirmed in 2015 that (actor/director scheduling issues aside) the writers behind the movie have been taking their time to make certain that Sherlock Holmes 3 is "going to be the best of the three." Wigram's own comments echoed those previously made by Law, who similarly affirmed his commitment to making sure Sherlock Holmes 3 is a worthwhile addition to the previous two installments (having said he's personally "so proud of those films").
Although A Game of Shadows was not as well received as its predecessor in terms of the critical reaction, the sequel still played well enough with critics and general audiences alike to keep interest in a third movie alive. As such, there is indeed room for Sherlock Holmes 3 to conclude the Ritchie-helmed Holmes trilogy on a high note, rather than leaving the series with the quasi-conclusion provided by A Game of Shadows (wherein Sherlock plummeted to his death down the Reichenbach Falls with Moriarty... before, at the last minute, it is revealed that Holmes did in fact fake his death). Even with two Sherlock Holmes TV series currently on the airwaves - see CBS' Elementary and the BBC's Sherlock - Ritchie's comparatively spectacle-driven storytelling approach will allow Sherlock Holmes 3 to stand out from its peers, despite arriving more than five years after A Game of Shadows was released.
Downey, for his part, does have an opening in his schedule between now and the projected filming start date for his next major MCU appearance in the Avengers: Infinity War movies, while Law and Ritchie still need to finish up post-production on King Arthur (and work around the promotional tour for the film next year). As such, if Sherlock Holmes 3 doesn't begin filming in 2016, then fans of the series may have to wait another year (or more) for Ritchie to finally start rolling the cameras on the three-quel.
We'll bring you more information on Sherlock Holmes 3 as it becomes available.