Why There Won't Be An Iron Man 4
Still with me?
The final minutes of Iron Man 3 provide serious closure for Downey’s arc as Tony Stark. He defeats his most formidable foe yet in Aldrich Killian and, by extension, The Mandarin. He initiates a “clean sweep” protocol that destroys all of his existing armors (albeit the sequel teaches us that Stark can rebuild any time he wants). And – here’s the big one – he undergoes surgery to have the shrapnel removed from his chest, removing his heart from danger.
That is the core of Tony Stark. The shrapnel is what ties him to the suit, and now it’s no longer a factor. He’s free to live a hero-free life with Pepper, handing the suit to Rhodes and entrusting the planet-saving missions to his pals in The Avengers.
Traditionally, franchises aim for trilogies, concluding story arcs with firm resolutions. Marvel’s operating on a different playing field, breaking new ground as they interchange heroes for standalone films and ensemble Avengers movies. But Iron Man had a head start on his colleagues, so seeing him conclude while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) extend their own trilogies makes more sense now than it did before seeing Iron Man 3.
From another angle, eventually Marvel is going to have so many heroes needing origin stories and sequels that Tony Stark could get pushed to the backburner simply because the studio’s production slate is too full. There are only so many movies Marvel can release in a calendar year. Already, we have Marvel movies carrying us to 2015, with Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy leading into The Avengers 2. The studio has also leaked plans for both Ant-Man and Doctor Strange movies in their Phase Three plans. Black Panther could also be a factor, while Thor and Cap likely will get third chapters in their respective franchises.
Where does Iron Man fit into these sprawling plans?
My conclusion, at the moment, is that he doesn’t. He’ll appear in Avengers sequels, and be on call for cameos in other superhero features. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are both appearing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier in supporting roles - I could see Iron Man appearing in an Ant-Man movie, or even Doctor Strange.
But do I think Robert Downey Jr. will do a standalone Iron Man 4? No, I don’t. Not any more.
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