The norm now for comic book movies is that the hero’s arc is told over the course of a trilogy and with Robert Downey Jr. wrapping up Iron Man 3 it seems like the natural assumption that this will be it for Iron Man standalone films.
Wesley Snipes put Blade in the tomb after Blade: Trinity, the X-Men films were mercifully ended for the first arc after X-Men: The Last Stand and Sam Raimi packed up shop on his highly successful Spider-Man series with the loathed Spider-Man 3. Admittedly, after the third installment, not too many people were upset that he was leaving. Christopher Nolan concluded his critically acclaimed Batman arc and isn’t looking back either.
And let’s be honest, it’s not like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace or Batman & Robin did much in terms of making a strong case for a fourth installment of a comic book film before the inevitable relaunch.
But with Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, we’ve got a character that audiences aren’t showing any signs of tiring of anytime soon and their appetite for more Iron Man movies doesn’t look to be satisfied anytime soon especially with Iron Man 3 grossing $198.4 million in its international opening last weekend.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Downey shared his thoughts on the likelihood of Iron Man 4.
“I think that we’re kind of closing this circle and this chapter and their whole kind of body of work with all the other franchises and ‘Avengers’ and all that stuff,” he said. “I’m an integral part of it, but I’m not the be all, end all for it.”
Nice of him to say that and all, but if there’s any actor in this entire stable of Marvel Studios films they can’t afford to lose anytime soon it’s Downey, who doesn’t shut the door on an “Iron Man 4.”
“I think there’s more to mine. … It’s going to be determined definitely by Marvel, and if they think there’s another aspect of the story that needs to be told that wasn’t covered in the trilogy — if there’s another way in that’s interesting,” he said in the Access interview. “You don’t want to keep just going to the well and have it be something where you’re ending it and you should have ended it one time ago. I’d rather leave them wanting more than go too far … These Marvel universes are vast and these characters can show up in each other’s movies and ‘The Avengers’ is a whole other series of possibilities, so who knows!”
There is some good news though as Downey doesn’t sound like he’s ready to give up the armor anytime soon.
“I still enjoy wearing [it],” Downey said. “They’ve gotten more comfortable as they’ve gone along.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said he envisions the Iron Man role to be like that of James Bond where it can endure even after Downey decides he’s suited up enough times in Iron Man’s armor:
“I don’t think Robert will be playing this character for another 30 years, and I certainly hope the character stays in movies for the next 30 years – just like James Bond. I would say before George Lazenby and Roger Moore, Sean Connery was James Bond,” Feige said. “I think Tony Stark is an interesting enough and rich enough character that he can persevere. That being said, I hope that doesn’t happen any time soon. It certainly is our plan to continue to have Robert Downey in the persona of Tony Stark for many, many years to come.”
When I started watching James Bond films, Connery was on his way out with “Never Say Never Again” and I got used to the steady rotation of Bond’s from Timothy Dalton to Pierce Brosnan to now Daniel Craig, but I can’t imagine who could fill Downey’s armored shoes. The best option I could come up with would be Dominic Cooper, who played Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger.
That said, Cooper would be 37 in 2016 — the earliest a new Iron Man adventure could come to screen and I’d think Feige would want to cast someone who could be in the role for at least three films. It’s the rule of three after all.