We still don't know exactly how the Marvel Cinematic Universe will move forward after the events of Avengers: Endgame, but now we know it'll be doing so without one of its original supporting stars.
Speaking to Variety in a conversation largely about her life-changing Oscar win for Shakespeare In Love, Iron Man and The Avengers costar Gwyneth Paltrow — who plays Tony Stark's assistant-turned-love-interest Pepper Potts — confirmed that Endgame will be her last outing as the character, ending an onscreen collaboration that began all the way back in 2008.
“I mean, I’m a bit old to be in a suit and all that at this point,” she said. “I feel very lucky that I did it, because I actually got talked into it. I was friends with [Iron Man director] Jon Favreau. It was such a wonderful experience making the first Iron Man and then to watch how important it has become to the fans.”
Paltrow's decision to step away from the MCU isn't exactly surprising. She's been largely out of the acting spotlight for a while now, only taking occasional roles as she devotes more time to her lifestyle brand Goop, which will soon be the basis for a Netflix series.
This also brings the question of Pepper and Tony's collective future into focus once again. In Infinity War they engaged, actively planning a wedding, and talking about having a kid together, something Paltrow herself seemed to confirm in an interview last year. That direction has never been discussed by anyone at Marvel, and everything else about Endgame is being kept under wraps, but if Tony Stark did get a happy ending, that seems like a very likely way to do it. Robert Downey Jr.'s own future in his role as the MCU's original hero and onscreen godfather is very much uncertain right now, so seeing the pair of them ride off into the sunset together seems like a very tidy way to leave things. That said, we can't say for sure what will happen until we see the movie.
In the meantime, Paltrow's confirmation that she's done playing Pepper is yet another reminder that the MCU is preparing to transition into a new era. The Iron Man crew is either preparing to move on or already moved on, and the Captain America crew might not be far behind. The superhero world we know could look very, very different in a couple of months.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters April 26.