Robert Downey Jr. has an interesting leveraged position when it comes to dealing with Marvel Studios. The Iron Man star is one of the key reasons that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been so successful to this point, and as a result has a lot of power when it comes to the negotiating table. Still, that hasn’t stopped Marvel from repeatedly betting on him, and as a result we will soon see him co-starring in Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America 3. What you may not know, however, is that this decision may have completely changed Marvel’s entire future.

This interesting story comes courtesy of an interview that Robert Downey Jr. recently did with Empire Magazine, where he opened up about both his involvement in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and his potential future with Marvel Studios. To start, the actor revealed that his participation with the film was absolutely necessary in order to pull off the Civil War adaptation, and that he was told when he first entered talks that they would have to go in a new direction if he declined. While this shouldn’t be a huge surprise to fans of the original Mark Millar-written comic book arc – given how crucial Iron Man is in the story – it’s still interesting that Marvel would hinge the future of one of their biggest projects on Downey Jr.’s presence. But the cementation of the Civil War plot wasn’t the only huge thing that came out of the star’s negotiations.

Talking further about his involvement with Captain America: Civil War, Robert Downey Jr. also noted that he was happy to be both helpful to and needed by Marvel in their future endeavors, and as a result has also seemingly changed his viewpoint on how he could be involved with projects later down the line. He told Empire,
”At this point it's about helping each other, too. I look at it as a competition, and I go, 'Wow, maybe if these two franchises teamed up and I can take even a lesser position, with people I like and directors I respect, maybe we can keep things bumping along.’”

Beyond Captain America: Civil War, Robert Downey Jr. is also contracted to be in Marvel’s upcoming The Avengers: Infinity War, but these new comments suggest that whole new avenues could open up between the actor and the studio in the future. It’s true that we may never get to see an Iron Man 4, but Marvel surely couldn’t be too upset about the possibility of keeping their original Tony Stark around for supporting roles in the future. Of course, none of it will be cheap, but it’s entirely likely that the benefits would outweigh the negatives.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man will next be featured in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will be out on May 1st.

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