Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3

There's a running joke that Marvel gets such incredible reviews from Movie News Websites because they pay film journalists to like them (and hate DC films, apparently). Which is ridiculous... unless other sites are getting paychecks, in which case, where do we sign up? There are, however, real people collecting large Marvel checks for their work in the MCU, and none are bigger than Robert Downey Jr. The actor launched what is now known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man in 2008. But when will he stop playing Tony Stark in various Marvel movies? Downey has this to say about his future in the iron suit:

Everyone says to me it's like a glove that fits so well. I have to start over every time, but I am starting over with a pretty solid base. I just never want to blow it for the last six or seven [movies] I have done by dropping the ball because I decided to go do it one more time. I just want to hang up my jersey before it's embarrassing.

That has to be the case for any actor who has returned to play a character time after time. Do you think Bruce Willis regrets returning for the lazy an uninspired A Good Day to Die Hard? Was it too many trip to the well? How about Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Maybe he should have hung up that whip and fedora with the aptly titled The Last Crusade? And is he really going to try to toy with his legacy with Indiana Jones 5?

The difference with Robert Downey Jr. and his role as Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that, as he tells Australia's News.Com.Au, he keeps getting lured back by the collaborations with skilled storytellers such as Joe and Anthony Russo and, now, Jon Watts. Also, Downey's Stark has become a mentor who can continue his evolving story arc by showing up in a few scenes -- usually OUT of the Iron Man suit -- and serve as a shepherd for younger actors in the MCU. Even when Iron Man fights on screen, Downey's only doing a few days in the rig that allows them to film Tony's face inside the helmet. How much heavy lifting does it entail?

Iron Man 4 likely won't happen. If it does, there could be someone else inside of the suit. There are rumors that Tony Stark might somehow meet his maker in Avengers: Infinity War, or the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4. And Marvel President Kevin Feige has made it clear that what we know about the MCU will be totally different after that fourth Avengers movie. Will Robert Downey Jr., the veritable founder of the MCU, still be part of the experiment after 2019? Only time will tell.

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