When asked about leaving the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. says he wants to try other things now, explaining he’s done everything he can w/ Iron Man.
After more than a decade in the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. believes that he’s able to do everything he could with Iron Man. Debuting in the Jon Favreau film from 2008, the actor reprised his role 10 more times throughout the Infinity Saga in varying degrees. He capped off his arc through Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Marvel Studios’ post-Infinity Saga plans have been disrupted by a series of scheduling shifts and reshuffles forcing them to skip 2020 altogether. This means that Phase 4’s kickoff has been delayed significantly with WandaVision starting things off on the TV side of things in January 2021, while Black Widow jumpstarts its film counterparts in May. Because of the long wait for new content, fans have resorted to revisiting past movies which evokes a sense of nostalgia. For Downey, however, he’s more than ready to move on and tackle new projects different from what he did with the MCU for more than a decade.
Speaking with Hindustan Times, the actor looked back at his time playing Iron Man on the big screen. When asked about his process of leaving the character who’s become synonymous with him behind, Downey says that he’s done everything with the hero. And echoing Tony Stark’s speech at the end of Endgame, he acknowledges that part of the journey is the end and he knows that.
Playing Tony/Iron Man was hard and I dug deep. I had an incredible 10-year run that was creatively satisfying.
I’ve done all I could with that character and can do other things now. Now, being middle-aged, you start looking at the back nine and realize this is all part of the journey and things end. I am fortunate and eternally grateful to have wound up where I have.
Not everyone was a fan of how Iron Man’s arc in the MCU ended in Endgame; there’s an argument to be made about how he didn’t need to die considering that there are other more powerful heroes who could’ve snapped without dying. All that being said, from a storytelling perspective, it makes sense for him to wrap-up his personal story with a heroic arc since he started as a self-serving war profiteer in the universe. As sad as it was to see his demise especially since he’s leaving a wife and daughter behind in Pepper Potts and Morgan, there’s poetic justice in his narrative. Furthermore, Tony’s death also effectively establishes stakes in the MCU — something that had been a point of criticism for them before since most heroes come out of battles unscathed. In any case, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t agree with Downey thinking that he’s done everything with the role. The actor brilliantly played Iron Man in his 11 years in the franchise; no wonder, he’s so beloved for it.
Just because Downey is done with the MCU, that doesn’t mean that the franchise is ready to leave Iron Man behind. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has just announced two new shows that would directly tackle Tony’s legacy in the universe in Armor Wars and Ironheart starring Don Cheadle and Dominique Thorpe, respectively. It might be too early to rule out any appearance from Tony in either of these shows given how they connect to him, but chances are that it won’t be through Downey coming back for a role. Instead, it would be more like brief cameo or even just a reference.