3 Existing MCU Characters Who Could Replace Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man

When it comes to Iron Man, the character and the actor behind him have grown intimately fused. Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man are one and the same to MCU fans spanning the globe. And, since Avengers: Endgame bid the Iron-clad superhero farewell, it will soon be time to introduce a new iron-suited savior. So one pressing, lingering, pivotal question remains: who will follow in Downey’s footsteps? Who will be the next to take on the Iron name?

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man MCU
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man | Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage

While the MCU could choose to introduce a new character, there are three existing characters who could come to fulfill the role when accounting for their current personifications and comic book plot trajectories.

With a little bit of tinkering to the comic narratives — something the MCU does not hesitate to do when necessary — three supers currently in the landscape could find themselves with an Iron title. 

1. Harley Keener as Iron Lad 

Harley Keener came to Tony Stark’s rescue in Iron Man 3 and Tony — still struggling with appropriate ways to express his gratitude and compassion — left the kid with a ton of highly expensive gadgets. The character appeared once again (several years later and a bit more mature) at Tony Stark’s funeral. 

Why would Marvel Studios choose to bring a (slightly forgettable) character back — for a matter of seconds — if there wasn’t a more significant gameplan? The teenager could easily become the Iron Lad of the comics and come to fight alongside the New Avengers whenever the team comes to fruition in the MCU.

2. Shuri as Iron Heart 

Black Panther’s Shuri is arguably the smartest inventor in the Marvel filmic landscape. From the weapons she created for T’Challa to the way she was able to begin removing the mind stone from Vision while preserving his life (before running out a time), seeing her develop a suit for combat would not be all that far-fetched. And, it would probably be more impressive than Tony’s. 

As for Iron Heart’s comic book origins, she is a genius who builds her own suit while studying at MIT. So, while there are differences between the two, the genius parallel is enough to make this alteration work, and the character is already well-received by fans. 

3. Sam Wilson (Falcon) as Civil Warrior 

Civil Warrior’s past is a bit complicated, as he is technically a Steve Rogers from an alternate universe — one in which Steve Rogers killed Tony Stark in Civil War. In this universe, Steve’s guilt leads him to build a suit from leftover Stark materials, attempting to find some mental peace and clarity. However, considering Falcon is not superhuman, he may need a shield that possesses an arc reactor and a full suit of armor that can protect his at-risk human body (which the Civil Warrior suit would do). 

With Sam Wilson likely to become the next Captain America in the MCU (following the Disney+ show), he will likely abandon his Falcon suit at some point in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, or some point after following Phase 4. And, seeing Wilson don a more protective version of Captain America’s garb could lead to a Captain America and Iron Man fusion via Wilson.