We’ve been hearing so many conversations lately about the possible departure of Robert Downey Jr. from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that we’ve begun preparing, in the backs of our minds, for a world without Downey and – possibly – Iron Man. The latest sequel delivered a lot of closure for the character of Tony Stark (at least in the way that Downey plays him), and while Kevin Feige says that Iron Man will be a part of The Avengers 2, it’s clear that a new hero has to step up and assume the charismatic leadership role that RDJ has provided on screen for the past few years. Eric and Sean got together and threw out some ideas for Iron Man’s successor. Whom would you like to see in the MCU spotlight?

Eric: So, I'm sure you've been paying attention to the big news in the Marvel Cinematic Universe recently, which is that we may not have Robert Downey Jr. around forever. Contract negotiations have been going on for a while now.

The problem with potentially losing Tony Stark, though, is that you lose what is basically the charismatic leader of the MCU. So if they lose that leader, what characters do you think Marvel can turn to in order to fill that void?

Sean: I think it is an interesting question. Because Marvel basically has defaulted to Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. because: 1) Jon Favreau's movie helped launch the current MCU; and 2) Downey Jr. is a fantastic actor to build a pop-culture franchise around. BUT, if Marvel had to do it all over again, I kind of think they would have preferred to launch the MCU around the man they eventually called The First Avenger ... Captain America.

And that is the main reason why I think Cap, and Chris Evans specifically, needs to be become the new focal point of the MCU. Can you see that?

Chris Evans Captain America

Eric: I definitely see your point, and, really, as the strategic leader of The Avengers, it makes sense that Evans would become the face of the entire franchise. But I wonder if it may be too late. Evans has charisma to be sure, but he was completely overshadowed in that respect in Phase One. Do you think that's something he could rebound from?

Sean: Oh, definitely. Think of his performances as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movies. Now that Cap has found solid footing in the contemporary society, Evans can start bleeding in more of that humor, that levity. Cap also has a direct connection to S.H.I.E.L.D., which will be a glue that bonds several of these Marvel chapters together. And he won't be jet-setting away to Asgard like Thor ... who doesn't strike me as a natural leader, anyway. I think that Marvel can allow Evans to mature into the leader role as Cap, and the actor has the chops to pull it off.

Do you have another option? I'm curious who you like. Because I do have one more wild card.

Eric: Well, I think that new blood is really the way to go. Hit audiences with someone new that they can appreciate on the same level as Downey Jr. Depending on how Guardians of the Galaxy ends up being connected to the rest of the Marvel Universe, it's possible that Chris Pratt could use his insane level of likability to help fill the void. And the take on Ant-Man they end up going with could be a game-changer too.

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