Should Robert Downey Jr. Return For Disney+'s Ironheart? Here's What Wakanda Forever's Dominique Thorne Says

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever changes the Marvel Cinematic Universe landscape in a number of ways, from someone else taking over the heroic mantle following the death of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, to Tenoch Huerta’s Namor the Sub-Mariner making his presence known to the people of Wakanda. The Black Panther sequel also introduces Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams, the MIT prodigy who will next lead her own MCU series exclusive to Disney+ subscribers, Ironheart. Because Williams is following in the footsteps of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, Thorne gave her opinion on if Downey should take part in Ironheart.

Now before anyone says anything, yes, Tony Stark did die in Avengers: Endgame. However, in the comics, Riri Williams has used an A.I. program modeled after Tony in her Ironheart suit, so why couldn’t the same thing happen in the MCU? While speaking with Dominique Thorne about her time on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, CinemaBlend’s own Law Sharma asked the actress if she’d be game for this to happen, and she answered:

I think that Riri Williams was given such a knockout of an introduction in Wakanda Forever, and I truly don't know if it could have happened in a better way. So I do trust that the folks over at Marvel sort of have a lock on the steps that should be taken next when it comes to Riri’s story. But that was also one of the things that I definitely enjoyed a lot from reading the comics, and especially her appearances and the Invincible Iron Man comics. Even just the relationship was super funny [laughs] to me, so I of course would not be mad at it.

Sadly, unless Tony Stark is resurrected in the main MCU continuity or we see Robert Downey Jr. return to this franchise as a Tony from another universe, Dominque Thorne’s Riri Williams will never cross paths with the man from who inspired her to design her own armor. But as far as the prospect of someday hearing Downey as an A.I. built into the Ironheart suit, akin to Paul Bettany’s J.A.R.V.I.S. and Kerry Condon’s F.R.I.D.A.Y., Dominique Thorne would definitely be down for this, having enjoyed the dynamic between Tony and Riri in the comics. Thorne trusts that the Marvel Studios leadership knows where to take Riri next, but like a lot of people who enjoy the MCU, she’d welcome having Downey lend his talents to this corner of the superhero media space once more.

Not only would Robert Downey Jr. voicing a Tony Stark A.I. in Ironheart not diminish the original Tony’s heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, it would also be much less of a time commitment for Downey compared to when he was playing the original character. Fresh off playing Lewis Strauss in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Downey is set to co-produce and star in HBO’s series adaptation of the 2015 novel The Sympathizer. He’s also still expected to return to the Sherlock Holmes franchise at some point, whether that’s for the long-awaited Sherlock Holmes 3 or moving forward with those HBO Max TV spinoffs. The point being, Downey is keeping busy these days, but maybe he’d be up to stretching those MCU muscles again if it only required a few hours in the recording booth.

As for what to expect from Ironheart, while specific plot detail remain closely guarded, Dominque Thorne will be joined in the cast by Anthony Ramos, Lyric Ross, Alden Ehrenreich and Cree Summer, among many others. The series is expected to drop on Disney+ sometime in late 2023, and in the meantime, you can head to that same streaming service to watch the Marvel movies in order. You’re also welcome to see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in theaters now and read our take on the sequel’s end-credits scene afterwards.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.