With the next few years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mapped out, Tony Stark himself offered his view on whether Iron Man 4 will find a place on the schedule.
It's been nearly three years since Iron Man last graced the screen in a solo movie -- Iron Man 3, to be exact -- and while Old Shellhead showed up in last year's Avengers: Age of Ultron and will turn up again in this May's Captain America: Civil War, the question has been out there as to whether Iron Man will ever get a fourth solo outing. After all, there is still the real Mandarin to catch, right?
Well, Robert Downey Jr. seems to provided an answer. In a new interview with USA Today, Downey was asked about the possibility of making Iron Man 4:
"I don’t think that’s in the cards. In a way it’s Cap 3 but for me it’s like my little Iron Man 4. And then it’s back to the thing we all recognize. Everything pulls over to the side of the road when the thunder of an Avengers thing comes through because that’s how it is until it changes. If it changes."
As Slashfilm points out, Downey turns 51 in April and has just one Marvel project left on his contract after Civil War, which is Avengers: Infinity War. Whether he's in both parts of that remains to be seen. But not only will Downey have played the role either seven or eight times by the time the dust settles from that (not counting his cameo at the end of The Incredible Hulk), but he'll also be 54 years old and very likely ready to put down the armor for a good, long spell.
Besides, where can the character logically go in Iron Man 4? We joked above about tracking down the real Mandarin, but with Tony's personal arc coming to a close in Iron Man 3, his fate seems now tied to whatever happens with the Avengers. And between the events of Civil War and Infinity War, he's already going to have a lot to deal with.
Many of the major Marvel players are out of their contracts after Infinity War, so it'll be very interesting to see whether the company retires them for a while, re-signs the original stars (if the actors want to come back, that is) or immediately begins recasting those roles. Iron Man has always been a special case: Not only are Downey and Tony Stark perhaps more closely linked than any other actor and character in recent memory, but it was that combination that kicked off the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe and helped make it the juggernaut it is today.
But all things must come to an end, and it seems very likely that the Downey/Stark journey will conclude with Avengers: Infinity War and not Iron Man 4. Are you disappointed? Or does that seem like the best way for Downey to sign off?