Three years ago, Robert Downey Jr. ignited outrage and heartbreak into the lives of geeks everywhere when he suggested that he may never portray Iron Man on screen again. Of course, since then, he has appeased himself in our geeky hearts following his new contract negotiation with Marvel Studios that led to his roles in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.
Most recently, Downey Jr. has also signed on for Spider-Man: Homecoming and is also expected to take part in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movies, and since then he has also suggested in a segment on Civil War on ABC’s Nightline that he “feel[s] like I could do one more” – eek!
While there is obviously no Iron Man 4 set for release in Marvel’s Phase III pipeline, I reckon it would still be pretty advantageous for the studio to consider adding a fourth movie to the Iron Man franchise, especially considering that Iron Man 3 brought in roughly $1.2 billion dollars alone.
If a fourth Iron Man film was to ever come to fruition, it would certainly be interesting to see how Marvel studios would re-develop Tony Stark’s character in a standalone setting, following Civil War, don’t you think?
I have some theories and, pretty much just candid wishes, relating to how I would like a potential Iron Man 4 to play out, which blends two major comic book canon storylines together, and could finally conclude RDJ’s character in an appropriate manner.
Demon in a Bottle
For Marvel to take Tony Stark’s Iron Man into the direction established in the Demon in a Bottle comic is perhaps an obvious direction for the Iron Man franchise to go in. Not only is it, arguably, the most famous story arc within the Iron Man canon, it is perhaps the most befitting of directions for Marvel Studios to consider, especially considering Iron Man’s recent roles within both Age of Ultron and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War plots.
Demon in a Bottle is a nine part series, released in the 1980s that sees Tony Stark spiral into alcoholism. The comic book story ultimately depicts him musing that his life as Tony Stark has been so chaotic, that he should give up his civilian identity and pursue life as Iron Man alone, but given the serious tone that both Ultron and Civil War take, I’d not be surprised if any story that focuses on Iron Man turning to the bottle is because of extreme PTSD and a fundamental shift in his character.
Whether this would successfully translate from canon to the big screen remains to be seen, especially given that Iron Man 3’s original script did involve Stark tackling an alcohol addiction – but this was ultimately nixed by Marvel Studios. Understandable, perhaps, given that alcohol isn’t necessarily a compelling or engaging villain – and given the Disney influence on the franchise – but to me, it feels like a natural progression, given the direction the Avenger leader seems to be taking, and doesn’t stop Marvel from re-introducing a proper villain into the mix, to give Iron Man 4 some seriously interesting and exciting clout.
Given the importance of The Mandarin in the comic book canon, I did feel a little cheated that Marvel Studios glossed over the terrorist leader, and bastardised his cinematic introduction somewhat, by opting to portray the Ten Rings leader as a drugged up British actor – Trevor Slatterly – who had taken on the role as part of a conspiracy driven by a tech company.
However, Marvel Studios managed to redeem themselves by releasing All Hail the King; a 14-minute one-shot short (featured on Thor: The Dark World blu-ray), following Ben Kingsley’s character who has been locked away in a maximum security prison. While it is generally viewed as an epilogue to Iron Man 3, it could be viewed as potential set up to a fourth Iron Man movie – with the suggestion that Slatterly will ultimately have to be a dire price for impersonating the true villain – who is allegedly real and extremely pissed off at having his character used inappropriately. The concept is that the Ten Rings and Mandarin are very much real and are gathering power behind the scenes, while plotting against Stark.
I think this would be a great direction to go in, particularly if you consider the Demon in a Bottle angle too, which could see the two blend together pretty successfully – and would redeem Stark, who presumably would lose himself a lot of fans and allies if he were to spiral into alcoholism.
Will Iron Man 4 happen?
An Iron Man 4 movie remains to be seen – I think Robert Downey Jr. is keeping his options open, just in case somewhere down the line, he decides that he wants to make another Iron Man movie. Given the enormous fan base he has amassed since he first became Tony Stark, I’d not be surprised if he could just march into Marvel Studios at any point in the future and tell them he’s ready.
But for now, Robert Downey Jr. seems to be flip-flopping his willingness depending on whatever mood it is that he’s in, so the above is resolutely speculative, but still – I think it would be an interesting way to go, if Marvel Studios decided on the future of Iron Man.
What do you think? Hit me up in the comments!