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From humble beginnings to Hollywood all-star; Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark laid the foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe all the way back in 2008 with the original Iron Man. The film series has gone on to become one of the most popular in recent memory, and Iron Man himself has become arguably the most popular character within the MCU. Despite this, we have seen or heard little signs of an Iron Man 4 hitting theaters anytime in the near future – and it seems as though Marvel Studios is intent on keeping it that way for now.
A new report indicates that Marvel has no plans to proceed with a fourth Iron Man film until at least after 2020. Tony Stark’s last adventure took place in 2013 with Iron Man 3 – which grossed over $1 billion for Marvel at the box office – and he has since gone on to play a more supporting role in the MCU. Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing Tony Stark until then. As most – if not all – of you already know, Stark will play a major poart in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, as well as appear in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 & 2.
By this time, it’s generally expected that RDJ’s contract will end with the studio, at which point they may opt to recast, either due to the actor’s age or his demand for a higher paycheck. Marvel has recast characters before, but never one so fundamentally important to their franchise, or as universally beloved as Robert Downey Jr. However, just like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, or Christian Bale as Batman, no actor can play a role forever, and eventually a successor must be named.
As disheartening as this news may be to long time fans of the Iron Man franchise, it also makes a great deal of sense. In terms of the MCU, Iron Man has hands down experienced the most character development and growth since his first on-screen outing, so giving the character a break in order to focus on other heroes doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Not to mention the fact that relying on RDJ’s charisma and style too much will eventually become tiresome – as much as we might not like to admit it.
Even if Robert Downey Jr. sticks around for Iron Man 4, that movie won't even hit theaters until sometime after 2020. We will one day see what Marvel decides to do when RDJ eventually steps down from the role, but until then you can catch him as Tony Stark when Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6, 2016.