Robert Downey Jr. stars this weekend as Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming, with this coming nine years after he made his debut as the character. So how much longer can we expect Downey to portray Iron Man on screen?
After Spider-Man: Homecoming, Robert Downey Jr. is only contracted to appear in two more Marvel films: Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled fourth Avengers film. Of course, that doesn’t confirm that the fourth Avengers will be his last; Marvel would just need to extend his contract if they want him in any more movies after that.
In interviews, Robert Downey Jr. has talked about the fact that he wants to leave the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a high note before audiences start to tire of his performance.
“I just never want to blow it for the last six or seven [movies] I have done by dropping the ball because I decided to go do it one more time,” Downey said in an interview with News.com.au. “I just want to hang up my jersey before it’s embarrassing.”
Downey Jr. has confirmed that there are no plans for a fourth Iron Man film, and so it seems like we may only see him as Tony Stark in other Marvel Studios films going forward.
There has been a lot of speculation among fans that the fourth Avengers film might be Robert Downey Jr.’s last, with the character either being killed off or passing the torch to someone else. The theory is that another character will take over for him: Riri Williams, who in the comics was introduced as Iron Man’s protégée who becomes Ironheart when Tony Stark slips into a coma. This character was based on actress Skai Jackson, and Jackson just so happened to post a photo with Tom Holland this past December.
Marvel has also intentionally not detailed the fourth phase of its cinematic universe, with Marvel President Kevin Feige telling io9 that he hopes to keep these plans secret until after the final Avengers film. This suggests that detailing phase four might constitute a spoiler for something major that happens in the fourth Avengers. For example, if we hypothetically found out that phase four does not include Iron Man 4 but instead includes an Ironheart film, this would give away the fact that Tony Stark dies in Avengers 4.
Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on May 4th, 2018.