As Marvel gears up for the films that will lead up to “The Avengers 2,” the collective projects being dubbed “Phase 2,” and beyond there’s a question that must eventually be answered. Namely, how many films will the current actors stick around for? There is no doubt that Marvel is in this for the long haul, and studio head Kevin Fiege has already gone on record as believing that the characters can be recast as needed, ala James Bond. In fact the Marvel cinematic universe has already seen this with the changing out of Edward Norton for Mark Ruffalo in the role of Bruce Banner, aka the Incredible Hulk. But what about the other characters?
The one that is now an open question is that of Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, who has been played by Robert Downey Jr. since 2008. When Downey first signed to the role his contract was for six appearances, an obligation that will officially be met with his appearance in “The Avengers 2.” Of course that’s not to say it’s impossible for a new contract to be negotiated, but Downey himself has already floated the idea that he’s getting too old for superhero roles. And now Bleeding Cool has noted that Downey’s costar, Gwyneth Paltrow has stated that she doesn’t believe there will be an “Iron Man 4.”
Of course Paltrow herself can’t be considered the definitive authority on the matter, but in many ways it looks like the stars are aligning for Downey to make a graceful exit. There is no doubt that Marvel would keep the character going, but it would make sense to end the series of Iron Man stand alone films with “Iron Man 3,” at least for the foreseeable future. Marvel has done great work in building up other heroes in their own franchises, and there’s more on the horizon. In short the studio doesn’t need Iron Man to be the backbone of its film slate anymore.
It makes sense to semi-retire old bucket head and make room for Marvel to bring in new characters for new stand alone adventures. If Marvel intends to keep introducing new characters, the studio was going to have to put some of its current series on the back burner. Otherwise audiences would likely burn out on the whole endeavor. A likely plan of attack would be to recast Tony Stark and feature him in supporting roles in other series as well as “Avengers 3” and beyond. This would take the weight of carrying on a solo franchise off the shoulders of whatever actor is placed in the role, but still allow room for that solo series to come back if audiences respond well enough to the recasting. Let the wild speculation of who will next done the Iron Man suit begin!