Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man is arguably the foundation of the massively successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is about to kick off Phase 3 with Captain America: Civil War next month. While the character has already rounded out his individual trilogy with Iron Man 3, many have wondered what will happen with Tony Stark after Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Avengers: Infinity War Part I, which will bring to a close a big part of the MCU as a whole. Robert Downey Jr. returns in Captain America: Civil War, but the actor hasn't been confirmed for any movie beyond that, although he is expected to show up in at least one of the Infinity War movies. In a recent interview with Forbes, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War director Joe Russo teased that it would be "almost impossible" to replace Robert Downey Jr., and there is only one way his Iron Man character could be rebooted.
"It's almost impossible to replace Robert, he's the biggest movie star in the world. One close up from Robert is worth another actor's entire performance, he's incredibly gifted and insanely talented. I think if and when he is done with the character I think you will find that Iron Man might disappear for a while. I think the only way that you could reboot that character is to give a generational gap that would allow another actor to at least have a chance to redefine that character without the enormous spectre of Robert hanging over it. There are so many characters in the Marvel universe that can pick up the ball and run without it through the next phase or two before you need to see Iron Man again, frankly."
There has long been talk about Iron Man 4, with Robert Downey Jr. first teasing that the movie will happen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in October 2014. However, later that same day, he appeared on Late Show with David Letterman where he shot down the rumor he started, stating there are no plans for the movie, but that there is a big Marvel announcement coming. Just a few weeks later, the studio laid out their plans for Phase 3 at a Los Angeles press event, where they announced Captain America: Civil War for the first time.
Joe Russo's brother and directorial partner Anthony Russo also teased in the interview that there has been "talk of recasting key roles like Iron Man," but it isn't known how serious those talks truly are. If that does happen, it wouldn't be the first time that Marvel has recast a role. Don Cheadle replaced original Iron Man star Terrence Howard as Rhodey, and Mark Ruffalo replaced The Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton as The Green Goliath. However, recasting a pivotal character like Tony Stark/Iron Man would certainly raise some eyebrows.
While Iron Man is expected to appear in at least one of the Avengers: Infinity War movies, the directors teased in January that the two-part adventure will focus on secondary characters, meaning some of the major characters may take a back seat. The filmmakers didn't mention any specific names, but it's possible that Tony Stark, Captain America and other major players could take a back seat to the stars who will go on to be featured in Phase Four. Do you think Iron Man should be recast or rebooted anytime in the near future?