With the success of “Iron Man 3,” it’s certainly possible Marvel would like to return to the well for “Iron Man 4.” Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel has ended, and while most expect him back for “Avengers 2″ in some capacity, the “Iron Man” series is much more up in the air, with Gwyneth Paltrow recently saying she thought the series was over.
Should Marvel go on with an “Iron Man 4″? Here are 4 options if they choose to do so.
1. Re-sign RDJ
Robert Downey Jr. would have to be paid, and paid handsomely, to return. But maybe there’s a scenario where that math works out for Marvel. So far, the movies with Robert Downey Jr. have performed better than those without. If most of the action scenes involve the suit, maybe the wear and tear on Downey himself could be limited.
2. Recast Tony Stark
At the end of “Iron Man 3,” the words “Tony Stark will return” appear on screen. However, it didn’t say anything about Robert Downey Jr. Could another actor fill the iron boots of Iron Man? Possibly. Superheroes Superman, Batman and Spider-Man have been played by multiple actors with varying success. My suggestion (with a h/t to comics artist Jamal Igle) is to cast Alexis Denisof. He has a good look for Stark, has experience with “Avengers” director Joss Whedon, and brings in the possibility of a great new Pepper Potts: his wife Alyson Hannigan.
3. James Rhodes is Iron Man
Take a page from the comics and let James Rhodes become the new Iron Man for a film or three. Don Cheadle could carry a film, or possibly a series of films, taking over for Tony Stark as the superhero Iron Man. This might even leave the door open to eventually recast Stark in a supporting role, if Downey didn’t want to return.
3(A). Rescue Me
This seems unlikely, but Pepper Potts did wear an Iron Man-style armor for a time in the comics as the hero Rescue. I don’t know if Gwyneth Paltrow would be interested, or if an “Iron Woman” in Iron Man 4 would fly without Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man; however, it is an option, if unlikely.
Because of the interconnectedness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think this won’t be the way that they go with it. However, with the “Spider-Man” and the most recent “Batman” film series, when the lead actor left the role, the series was rebooted with new actors and new continuity. A reboot would allow the movie to act as a first film in a series rather than a fourth; with few exceptions, fourth installments of superhero franchises haven’t done well. “X-Men First Class,” which wasn’t exactly a reboot but was a shift in characters and tone, is best I can come up with at the moment.
What do you want to happen in the future for “Iron Man”? Would you like to see another film, appearances in the Avengers, or none of the above?