Since Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man laid down his life to bring back billions of lost souls, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have had one question: when will Iron Man return?
Iron Man, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., was a prominent character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) up until 2019’s Avengers: End Game. The fan-favorite hero first appeared in the 2008 film Iron Man and has since become one of the most iconic superheroes in the franchise.
Tony Stark, the alter ego of Iron Man, the billionaire genius inventor and the CEO of Stark Industries, quickly became one of comic fans’ favorite personas as the early phases of the MCU progressed, ultimately leading to one of the top-grossing franchises ever in the Avengers.
Throughout the MCU, Iron Man plays a pivotal role in several films, including Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and of course, Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Iron Man’s character arc within the MCU is complex and compelling, making him the central figure of the entire franchise. He goes through personal growth, facing challenges, and dealing with the consequences of his actions, as well as the early loss of his parents.
Tony Stark evolves from a self-centered playboy to a selfless hero willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. His journey includes creating advanced armored suits, combating villains, and forming alliances with other superheroes to protect the world.
Iron Man’s impact on the MCU is significant. He sets in motion the formation of the Avengers, a team of superheroes featuring Captain America and Thor, dedicated to defending the Earth. His technology and inventions also laid the foundation for the emergence of other heroes and the advancement of technology within the Marvel universe.
With his quick-witted humor, charismatic personality, and iconic red and gold armor, Iron Man has won the hearts of millions of Marvel fans worldwide. Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark has become synonymous with the character, leaving a lasting legacy in the MCU.
Iron Man’s presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been instrumental in shaping the overall narrative, introducing new characters, and captivating audiences with his heroic deeds and charismatic personality.
However, after the character’s sacrificial death in End Game, many have claimed that the MCU died along with him. Despite successful projects like Loki (2021) and WandaVision (2021), many feel as if the MCU hasn’t lived up to its expectations of late.
For this reason, speculation has run rampant regarding the potential return of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man to the franchise. As the MCU is currently in a state of disarray, with expanding multiverses, the opportunity exists, but Marvel fanatics shouldn’t get their hopes up.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Marvel President Kevin Feige put rumors of Iron Man’s return to bed after many new outlets latched onto a story suggesting the popular character would return.
As reported by Yahoo News, Feige stated the following when pressed about RDJ coming back as Iron Man to save the franchise, “We are going to keep that moment and not touch that moment again,” Feige says. “We all worked very hard for many years to get to that, and we would never want to magically undo it in any way.”
The comments came as Fiege spoke regarding a story highlighting Robert Downey Jr. and his rise to stardom after a few bumps in the road related to drugs and arrests early on in his career.
Although the news is most likely disheartening to Marvel fans who adore the beloved character, it makes sense to keep Iron Man a thing of the past. Unlike Star Wars, where multiple high-valued characters have lost their luster once returning from the dead (looking at you, Boba Fett), Feige wants to keep the memory of Iron Man, just that: a strong, sacrificial memory that’s a testament to the character’s overall arc and importance.
How the MCU will move forward without its galvanizing Iron Man figure remains to be seen. No one really knows who will co-lead the new Avengers, although some pretty strong candidates still exist, such as Thor, Doctor Strange, or even Winter Soldier.
One thing is for certain: as fan interest wanes, Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, and Jon Favreau must figure out a way to hook MCU viewers back in after significant failures such as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania (2023).