Will Robert Downey Jr. Take on ‘Iron Man 4′?
Is Robert Downey Jr. leaning toward taking on the role of Iron Man in the fourth installment of the Iron Man series? That certainly seems to be what he recently hinted at in a discussion with Entertainment Weekly.
“It’s down to Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studios president] and Ike [Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment] and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is, and that’s on us to agree or disagree,” he said. “When things are going great, there’s a lot of agreement.”
Those words would seem to stand in sharp contrast to what Downey Jr. said last year in an interview with GQ, which to many onlookers indicated that the actor’s time in the Marvel series would be coming to an end after Avengers: Age of Ultron. “How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun?” he said. “I come from a family of very innovative writers and directors and actors and artists, and … there’s this kind of legacy of souls from what I consider to be a very particular time in entertainment, and I’m sensing a return to that.”
One thing that Downey Jr.’s interview with EW seemed to indicate is that money will surely factor heavily into whether he returns. Given that Disney and Marvel are well known for underpaying most of the stars of their films — Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp being two exceptions — the actor’s willingness to return will likely hinge on whether Disney believes he is worth the money.
But he also explained that it’s tough to walk away from a role that launched him to stardom, successfully capping his Hollywood comeback story. “It’s that thing of, why give up the belt when it feels like you can barely get jabbed?” he said. However, he noted that it’s also important to know when it’s time to step away. “Most people are saying that right when they get knocked out,” he said, per Entertainment Weekly.
If Downey Jr. does end up leaving the role of Iron Man behind, it would be difficult to gauge what the effect would be. One one hand, the tightly controlled Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to run like a well-oiled machine, and given the A-list actors the studio continues to attract, there’s no doubt it could find a suitable replacement and carry on.
But there’s also no actor more valuable than Downey Jr. when it comes to ticket sales, with all three Iron Man films leading the pack in box office behind The Avengers. Last year’s Iron Man 3 became the sixth highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, bringing in $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office — over $500 million more than the next film on the list, Captain America: The Winder Soldier.
Additionally, Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man has reached the kind of iconic status that makes him nearly impossible to replace. An actor coming in would either have to emulate Downey Jr.’s take on the character or try his best to present a fresh version, both of which would present heavy obstacles not easily overcome. And given the pressure of taking over for Downey Jr., it’s unclear whether there would be many actors willing to step into the fire, especially when the kind of money Downey Jr. commanded would not be involved.