Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man Return Feels Closer Than Ever 5 Years After His MCU Ending

Robert Downey Jr. might finally come back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the next few years, as recent updates make his Iron Man return the closest it has been since 2019. RDJ was responsible for starting the MCU with 2008’s Iron Man. After turning in an electric performance as Tony Stark in the film, Downey would become the face of the franchise, leading an Iron Man movie trilogy, four Avengers films, and playing key roles in Captain America and Spider-Man’s stories in the MCU. After more than a decade, Iron Man died in Avengers: Endgame.

The MCU has changed a lot since Iron Man’s death. Both Downey and Chris Evans left the franchise, taking away the MCU’s two fan-favorite stars. That led to the debut of several new characters since the start of the Multiverse Saga. However, the MCU has been going through a rough few years without its biggest stars, with the franchise facing the worst criticism it has ever since 2008’s Iron Man started the MCU. Thankfully, it seems like Marvel’s biggest hero might be returning, as RDJ’s role in future MCU movies has become more likely five years after he left.

Robert Downey Jr. Is Open To Returning As Iron Man

The Actor’s Comments Raise Hopes For Tony Stark’s Return

Iron Man walks away from an explosion in Iron Man (2008)

RDJ recently received the biggest award of his career, winning Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards for his role as Lewis Strauss in director Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Speaking to Variety in 2023 about jumping from the MCU to OppenheimerDowney seemed concerned that his time as Iron Man could have hurt his ability to play other characters, saying, “You start to wonder if a muscle you have hasn’t atrophied.” The actor also said that, with Oppenheimer, he “regained [his] connection with a more purist approach to making movies,” in reference to Oppenheimer‘s practical effects versus the MCU’s green screens.

Despite those comments making it look like RDJ was ready to leave the MCU behind and go for projects similar to Oppenheimer, after the actor’s Oscar win, Downey is open to returning as Iron Man. Recently, the Tony Stark actor made his chances of returning as the character the highest they have been since Iron Man’s death in Avengers: EndgameDowney revealed that the Iron Man role is in his DNA, saying, “I’ve become surprisingly open-minded to the idea.” With Downey’s new stance and recent MCU developments, Iron Man’s return becomes likely.

The MCU’s Shifted Focus On Franchises And Sequels Make A Return More Tangible

Iron Man Can Perfectly Fit The New MCU Plan

Tony Stark wears headgear and stands with his Iron Man suit in Iron Man 3

The MCU’s Phase 4 was the most criticized of the franchise by far. It was the first chapter of the franchise without Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow, and its problems show how Marvel has failed to replace its biggest stars. Phase 5 has also been hit-or-miss so far, and the MCU’s Multiverse Saga woes have led to key changes to how Marvel Studios operates. Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed the MCU’s new focus, with the shared universe focusing on sequels and franchises going forward, which contrasts with the recent introduction of several new MCU heroes.

Bringing back RDJ as Iron Man perfectly fits this new direction for the MCU. There is no bigger brand connected to Marvel Studios than Iron Man in terms of his importance to the franchise, and as such, Downey returning for one or both of the next Avengers movies — and perhaps even the long-requested Iron Man 4 — could fit Marvel’s new focus on franchises and sequels. With fewer MCU movies and series being released each year now, Iron Man emerges as the perfect candidate to anchor an entire year of the franchise if Downey returns to the role.

RDJ’s Iron Man Return After The Multiverse Saga Would Be Way Harder To Do Right

The MCU Could Look Very Different

Iron Man and Spider-Man hugging on the battlefield in Avengers Endgame

The Multiverse Saga is the best place for RDJ to return as Iron Man. 2027’s Avengers: Secret Wars will mark the end of this chapter of the MCU. By then, Downey will be 62 years old. Marvel would be pushing it too far to bring back RDJ as Tony Stark at such an age after missing the perfect way to bring Iron Man back without messing with his emotional Avengers: Endgame sacrifice.

Thanks to the multiverse, RDJ could return as an Iron Man variant, bringing some novelty and keeping Tony Stark’s MCU legacy safe. After the end of the Multiverse Saga, it is unlikely that the multiverse will be used as much as it has been or at all. Besides, an MCU reboot is rumored to happen after Avengers: Secret Wars. With a possible new actor playing Iron Man, Downey’s return to the MCU would become too convoluted, meaning it must be now or never, and thanks to the actor’s recent comments, Iron Man‘s return in the Multiverse Saga is looking likely.

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