“There isn’t one in the pipe. No, there’s no plan for a fourth Iron Man.” That was the rather blunt response that Downey Jr. gave to Variety recently when asked about the potential future of the successful comic book franchise. The actor is currently up at the Toronto International Film Festival promoting his new movie The Judge, which is the actor's first dramatic film since 2009's The Soloist.
Anyone who is in any way familiar with the history of contract talks between Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel shouldn't be too surprised that the star's stay as Tony Stark may not extend past The Avengers 3. As, statistically, the biggest draw in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Downey Jr. has long had an upper hand in negotiations with the company – to the point where he even got them to pay him $50 million for his work in The Avengers – a figure that he himself has confirmed. Because of these hardball tactics, there was a time when there was a possibility that the Oscar-nominee wouldn't be in The Avengers 2 – and writer/director Joss Whedon even said that he wouldn't do the movie without him. It's not hard to see why Marvel might not be eager to jump back into contract extension conversations for an Iron Man 4.
Furthermore, while Downey Jr. was undoubtedly an extremely important player in the establishment of Marvel Studios as a blockbuster success, the company has been doing just fine making movies without him recently. James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy and Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier currently stand as the two biggest domestic releases of the year, and both achieved their positions without Iron Man's presence (provided you ignore the blink-and-you-miss-it photo of the character in the latter film). It's true that Downey Jr. has appeared in all of the studio's top four titles, but the comic book giant is learning how to achieve big things without the star's presence.
So, if Iron Man 4 isn't part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase Three plans – what projects are coming up? In addition to Peyton Reed's Ant-Man, the Russos' Captain America 3, and Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy 2, they are also working on seven untitled projects that will be coming out between now and 2019 – three of which are all but confirmed to be Doctor Strange, Thor 3, and The Avengers 3. Will Iron Man's presence be missed, or do you think Marvel can move on without him?