What Should Marvel do with Iron Man?

Robert Downey Jr.’s (RDJ) Iron Man has been one of the great success stories of the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The character was the first of the company’s superheroes to make the transition to the big screen in the modern era and Tony Stark’s alter-ego has been a fixture of the wider MCU ever since.

Robert Downey Jr.’s (RDJ) Iron Man has been one of the great success stories of the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The character was the first of the company’s superheroes to make the transition to the big screen in the modern era and Tony Stark’s alter-ego has been a fixture of the wider MCU ever since.

The three movies in the character’s official canon (a fourth is very unlikely) have inspired everything from video games and new comic book series to slot machines. The Iron Man slot game available at http://bingo.williamhill.com/, for example, is a 5-reel, 25-payline game based on Marvel’s iconic character, which includes a missile-based minigame. During the Missile Attack Bonus players have to shoot down dangerous missiles to win cash prizes and free spins, ensuring that they feel really like part of the action. At William Hill players can currently get a 400% welcome bonus for signing up and trying out the game.

With Iron Man heading for his tenth year on the big screen and Downey Jr. only confirmed for the role for the next two years, it might be time for a new hero to don the red suit. Here are a few ways that Marvel might try phasing the character – and RDJ – out of the movie universe altogether.

 

Blaze of Glory

Iron Man
Source: MoviePilot

Much like Christian Bale’s Batman, Downey Jr. will eventually pass the baton on to a different actor – though not necessarily a younger one, as evidenced by Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader.

However, in a rapid-fire universe like the MCU (there have been four movies and five TV series’ since 2008), a sudden change of actor in a major role is a highly conspicuous move that could undermine the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Fans simply aren’t going to buy the fact that none of the regular cast have noticed Iron Man’s spontaneous act of transformation.

It might work for Game of Thrones (Gregor Clegane – “The Mountain” – has been played by three different actors) but Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man; he’s the only person to ever play Tony Stark in a live-action role. The same goes for Thor and Captain America, who are now inseparable from Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans respectively in the public’s imagination, although both roles have been played by different actors in the (distant) past.

Once Downey Jr. retires the mantle of Iron Man, Marvel has two options; firstly, Tony Stark could pass the suit on to a different person but have Downey Jr. remain in the MCU as the billionaire. The idea isn’t without precedent, as Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America in the movies, despite Chris Evans’ ongoing presence.

Alternatively, Downey Jr. could go out in a blaze of glory, removing the character from the current canon. The upside of this approach is that a TV series could serve as a ‘soft’ introduction of a new Iron Man actor to the wider Cinematic Universe. It would also free up a slot for a new hero in the films, such as Namor or Black Cat.

 

Infinity War

infinity-war
Source: superherostuff.com

Marvel has historically reserved its TV series’ for lesser heroes (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist) or those in need a popularity boost before a return to the big screen (Daredevil, The Punisher); with that in mind, Iron Man may be too big of a property for Marvel to lock behind the paywall of a service like Netflix.

There’s also a lot to be said for leaving Iron Man on the sidelines for a while. The MCU is almost comically bloated with characters (there are 14 super-protagonists in the most recent Avengers film, not including supervillains and regular folk) and the various movies have long since begun to resemble each other a little too much.

As a final point, there’s a good possibility that Avengers: Infinity War, a movie due out in 2018, could reset the Marvel canon altogether. It’s not unheard of in comic books (DC did it in 2011 with the New 52 range of titles) and the movie coincides with the end of Downey Jr.’s ‘two more years’ in the metal suit. With that in mind, all the above might be academic.

It’s perhaps time to start making your bets for a brand new MCU cast. Let’s just hope Marvel has forgotten about the time they considered WWE wrestler Triple H for Thor.

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