It’s been a good run, everyone. Robert Downey Jr. not only kick-started Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but he successfully made Iron Man one of the most popular and beloved superheroes ever created. Now, it looks as if his run as the quick-talking smart-ass Tony Stark might be coming to an end. With Iron Man 3 releasing in U. S. theaters this week, the actor’s contract is officially up, and negotiations are reportedly not going too well. Take this with a grain of salt, because there are whispers that he will be returning for The Avengers 2.
Regardless, it’s best to prepare for the worst. As much as it pains me to say this, it might be nearing time to bid farewell to arguably the best part of Marvel’s shared movie universe. While it may be the end of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, does it mean the end of Iron Man himself? Read on for our suggestions for how the studio should best move forward without their biggest star.
Re-Cast Tony Stark
This appears to be where negotiations are headed, but is it the best option? Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark like no one else could, effortlessly blending wit and sincerity and bringing a level of honesty to the role that can’t be replicated. So who would be a good fit to step into the suit in his place? No one will ever truly replace him, but Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has said that Tony Stark will continue to play a role in the movies even if RDJ doesn’t return. Whoever Marvel chooses to don the suit, they won’t (and can’t) make the shift any less jarring than it inevitably will be. Viewers have been spoiled in a way, because RDJ is a spitting image of Tony Stark in both appearance and demeanor.
Out of all of the possible routes to be taken, this option is probably the least wise but the most likely. But only time will tell if this decision helps or hinders the MCU.
Continue Without Iron Man
As new characters are being introduced and old characters are moving into the spotlight, the franchise can start to ease away from its dependency on Iron Man as a character. Marvel’s plans for the shared universe are ambitious, and are already bigger than Iron Man. As we delve deeper into Phase Two and start exploring new aspects and concepts in the Marvel Universe, Iron Man really isn’t needed as much anymore. We’ll probably get hate mail for that one, but think about it: if the focus is constantly on Iron Man and his shenanigans, then other characters won’t get their chance to shine. That was our only complaint with The Avengers, which we’ll sometimes call “The Tony Stark Show.” That’s not to say we can’t see a Tony Stark cameo pop up every once in a while, but as far as main characters go, it might be best if he takes a step back.
If they are so adamant about keeping Iron Man in the franchise, the last and possibly best option would be to see Rhodey “graduate” from War Machine to Iron Man. If there’s anything that would make us squeal like a fifteen year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert, that would be it. Cheadle has already shown his chops in Iron Man 2, as lackluster as it was, and will no doubt blow us away in next week’s Iron Man 3. We would love to see the filmmakers follow the source material and have Rhodey replace Stark as Iron Man, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
We will just have to sit tight and wait and see. Maybe this is just a PR stunt by Marvel and Robert Downey, Jr. will be Iron Man until the franchise sputters and dies. Whatever ends up happening, we should trust whatever decision is made. Kevin Feige and his cohorts at Marvel have done a solid job so far, so I have faith they’ll steer the franchise in the right direction.