Even though Iron Man died at the end of Avengers: Endgame, it is difficult for MCU fans to imagine the giant superhero franchise without Robert Downey Jr. in the mix. Many fans are holding on to hope the actor will continue to appear in the franchise in flashbacks and alternate reality roles, but during an episode of Smartless Podcaster, Downey confirmed that his Avengering days are over when asked how he is balancing family life and Marvel after Iron Man's death.

"That's all done."
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So it seems Downey will no longer be attached to MCU films in any capacity. This might ultimately be a good thing because as far as swan songs go, they really don't get much better than saving the universe from the Mad Titan Thanos, as Iron Man did in Endgame.

The impact of Downey's character on the MCU was so clearly felt that the next film in the franchise, after Endgame, which was Spiderman: Far From Home, dealt in large parts with Iron Man's legacy, and the struggles of Spider-Man to live up to it.

The next film in the MCU, Black Widow, was also rumored to have new scenes with Iron Man shown in flashbacks. Those scenes are now being reported as extras from Captain America: Civil War that did not make it into the final cut of that movie. So Downey does not appear to have filmed any new scenes as Iron Man.

Still, the actor has crafted a legacy within the MCU that he can be proud of, even though RDJ's favorite movie in the Marvel franchise is not one of the Iron Man or Avengers films, but rather Black Panther, as the actor recently expressed while paying his respects to the late actor and fellow-MCU alum Chadwick Boseman.

"Black Panther is, hands down, it is the crowning achievement of the Marvel Universe, and I say that with all due respect to all the films that have been made, including my own. But it was the one where people got to vote with their ticket sales and say, 'We require this overdue diversity, this is a meritocracy, or at least it should be, and this is a fantastic movie that has leveled the playing field', and appropriately so."

Moving forward, the MCU will have to find some way to fill the Iron Man-shaped hole in the hearts of fans. It was said that Captain Marvel is being set up as the new leader of the Avengers going forward, while Tom Holland's Peter Paker/Spider-Man is often seen as the heir apparent to the massive audience appeal of Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Then there are the legacy Marvel Comics characters who are set to join the MCU soon, from Fantastic Four to the X-Men. It is safe to say the franchise is in no danger of running out of popular characters, but Robert Downey Jr. will always have a special place in the hearts of fans that was consolidated since the first time Tony Stark wore the Iron Man armor back in 2008 and took off into the sky to fight terrorists. This comes from Hunt the Truth.

Neeraj Chand