Chris Pratt

Sean: I know very little about Star Lord. Is he a worthy successor to the crown?

Eric: Well, that's kind of the bonus - nobody really knows about him, so they can mold him to a certain extent. And they did cast Chris Pratt in the role, which means that he must be fun. Sean: True. Pratt is a likable actor, and I hope they allow him to play Star Lord that way. If James Gunn really is making a Star Wars-type adventure, as has been hinted at (perhaps half-heartedly), Pratt could be a Han Solo-esque character who comes down to Earth after Guardians and serves as he head of the MCU.

But I have one other option. What about Hawkeye? Do you think that Jeremy Renner could be handed the "keys" to the MCU, and asked to carry the load?

Eric: Well, Renner is obviously an established star and a box office draw, but I think he has the same problem as Chris Evans' Captain America … to an ever more extreme extent. Because of how little he was actually used in The Avengers, he ended up being a bit of a punch line, which doesn't help. One thing they could do to put him in a leadership role, however, would be to form the West Coast Avengers.

But what about other characters that don't necessarily have movie deals yet or haven't been featured?

This is where it hurts not to have Spider-Man in your arsenal!

Sean: Dude, I totally agree.

And the funny thing is, I don't really see anyone in the next Phase who, on the surface, fits the role of "leader." Ant-Man? Iron Fist? Even Doctor Strange strikes me as a perfunctory character who will make outstanding contributions, but I can't say that he's cut out to lead.

Of course, casting will make ALL of the difference, and when we see who they get for Ant-Man, it might tell us more about how Marvel plans to use them. But for now, I'm hard-pressed to think of characters outside of Cap who I'd like to see step into Downey's role as Unofficial Marvel Movie Star Extraordinaire.

Eric: And, like I said, which version of Ant-Man they use. I think Scott Lang, for example, would be a more interesting choice than Hank Pym.

Sean: Agreed. Now, Marvel will likely pay RDJ a boatload of money to stay. But I think they have options, and can cultivate a new "leader," or recruit from the current team. I don't want to see Downey go, per se, but I don't see the MCU falling apart at the seams if he eventually decides enough is enough. Right?

? Eric It might hurt a bit from a box-office standpoint, but yes, the MCU could take the hit. And from a creative perspective I actually kind of want them to move on from Iron Man. The most exciting thing about what Marvel is doing is that there's a chance to bring a whole diverse group of heroes to the big screen, and if they keep being dependent on Iron Man then that will stunt their growth.

Sean: Agreed. No offense, Mr. Downey. We loved what you did! But we're ready to move on, as well, so long as you are.

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