For over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. starred as Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Responsible for kickstarting the Infinity Saga, the actor’s first turn as Iron Man in 2008 would go on to catalyze one of the most successful franchises of all time.
Thanks to Iron Man’s success — critically and at the box office — Marvel Studios found a leg to stand on. And, soon enough, fans grew acquainted with Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and more.
As new heroes came into the foray, one remained at the center: Tony Stark. Many would concur that Tony Stark was the face of Marvel for all those years, as the character’s personal arc was integral to the saga’s overarching plotline and, in the end, he was the man responsible for saving humankind.
Yet, now that Tony Stark is no longer with us, who will fill his shoes? Whose face will become the poster child for the MCU? Let’s dive into some of the most likely candidates and discuss whether or not they deserve the honor — whether or not they can even scratch the surface of RDJ’s influence as Iron Man.
3. Captain Marvel
It goes without saying that Captain Marvel will be at the forefront of the MCU’s next narrative generation. Kevin Feige has made it clear that Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel will assume leadership responsibilities as the landscape expands.
With the A-force clearly on the horizon — as Natalie Portman preps to play Mighty Thor and Jennifer Walters steadies to go Jade Giant in She-Hulk — it’s likely that Captain Marvel will come to lead an all-female superhero team, taking a position at the center of the franchise. Yet, does Captain Marvel deserve the honor?
While Captain Marvel is a respectable character whose solo outing proved successful, she hasn’t been in the franchise for very long. And, she does not boast the deep-seated connection to Stark that many would long for in a new leader. The man or woman to assume Stark’s role should be able to pay homage to the character, while also creating a new path forward.
Tom Holland’s Spider-Man would be the perfect as the next face of the MCU: he is the heart of Marvel comics, he was Stark’s protege, and he possesses the fan love needed for a seal of approval. Not to mention, Stark and Parker maintained a father-son dynamic throughout the saga, which would make the decision quite a heartfelt one. However, there are two obvious problems: he is a bit young, and the whole situation with Sony Studios may get in the way.
While Spider-Man could be the next face of the MCU, he is a bit young to assemble and lead an entire team. Yet, if the New Avengers turns out to be the Young Avengers, anything seems possible. That is if Sony and Marvel work out a way to keep Tom Holland at the forefront of the MCU — appearing in multiple mash-ups and future solo installments.
1. Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange has thus far only appeared in one standalone installment, yet The Multiverse of Madness is on the way. Strange and Stark boasted an interesting dynamic — they often one-upped each other, but respect subsisted beneath the surface. Further, considering Doctor Strange can see multiple futures based on outcomes, he would make quite a strategic leader and a respected Marvel posterchild.
If rumors surrounding Strange and The Illuminati turn out to be credible, he may come to lead a team of highly intelligent heroes prepped to combat threats the new Avengers team cannot fight alone. Thus, Strange could come to lead a sector of the Avengers, and help to lead the whole team in major mash-ups. Thus, he could easily become Marvel’s next face — a wise and all-knowing one whose sense of omniscience will be consistently challenged. But, is this a little too familiar?