Could Iron Man Be Returning to the MCU on Disney+?

It’s safe to say that Iron Man is the single most popular Avenger in history next to Captain America. While others might disagree, Disney probably had contingency plans on how to continue Iron Man in some tangential way — even after Robert Downey, Jr. left the role.

Now it looks like there may be a way for that to happen. With Disney+ now live and thriving, more rumors are flying about additional Marvel shows coming to the platform in the next year or two. One character that might help the expansion is Ironheart, a woman who happens to be new to the Marvel comic book world.

The character, Riri Williamsm, is somewhat mentored by Tony Stark in the comics. Though, he lets an artificial intelligence version of himself do the training. Now everyone’s wondering whether Downey Jr. will be back in an Ironheart Disney+ series as an AI version of Stark.

There have been predictions of Tony Stark coming back in AI form

An Iron Man cosplayer during MCM London Comic Con 2017.
Iron Man | Ollie Millington/Getty Images

Numerous things have been written about Tony Stark’s AI technologies and how it could be a path leading to him coming back in a different form for future projects. While we’ve seen Downey, Jr. take on an “aesthetic distance” from the MCU in the interim, it seems plausible he never intended for it to be permanent.

After 11 years of making Marvel movies, it was only right he should have a considerable break to get back to his own life and even act in some other movies for sake of diversity.

Should there be an Ironheart series, some talk is brewing about Downey Jr. returning as the AI version of Stark to train Riri. Who might the actress be who plays Riri Williams, though? 

What makes this more exciting is Riri is African-American, giving a chance to see a black woman portray a central superhero character, which is long overdue after Black Panther.

Would Robert Downey Jr. really return?

There are many young African-American actresses who could play Ironheart in a new streaming franchise. Word is, after the debut of the character on Disney+, she’d transition into big-screen films afterward, a plan Marvel apparently had all along.

Marvel may want to hire a known actress who’s already been established in TV and movies. Zendaya would have been a perfect choice had it not been for her being already involved with the MCU and the new Spider-Man franchise.

Perhaps an unknown would be better with immediate star power. Having Downey Jr. returning as Stark would also bring out a new side of his mentoring for another generation. Of course, whether Downey Jr. would really return is still a major question.

Portraying an AI version of Tony Stark could technically be done quickly since he could film his scenes in advance and perhaps have them added in later. On the other hand, the chemistry between Stark and Riri would be less believable.

Marvel’s push to be more inclusive may expand here

If some can easily argue Marvel is still dragging their feet on a few inclusive aspects to the MCU movies, they’ve at least advanced more African-American superheroes to the forefront. Thanks to Bob Iger, Black Panther got made when some suits at Marvel didn’t think an all-black superhero movie would go over well with all of America.

Now Ironheart can start this in a new way by beginning on streaming and transitioning to movies rather than the other way around. It’s innovation like this everyone wants to see from Marvel in bypassing skeptical movie demographics before debuting something new.

The focus on Disney+ streaming is likely going to bring a lot of great things similar that would be much more complicated to pull off as big-screen efforts.