Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man will not be returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — at least according to Kevin Feige.
In an interview with Vanity Fair about the third act of Downey’s decades-long career, the president of Marvel Studios addressed the rumors that all the original Avengers would be returning in one form or another in a future MCU phase.
“We are going to keep that moment and not touch that moment again,” Feige told the publication about Tony Stark’s emotional final moments in Avengers: Endgame. “We all worked very hard for many years to get to that, and we would never want to magically undo it in any way.”
It seems difficult to imagine a Marvel universe that does not include Downey, but before he was cast in the crucial role of Iron Man, the studio was hesitant about casting him, despite Feige and director Jon Favreau vying for him.
“It purely came down to the Marvel board being nervous at putting all of their chips in their future films on somebody who famously had those legal troubles in the past,” Feige said of Downey’s arrests. “I wasn’t very good — and I’m still not great — at taking no for an answer. But I also don’t pound my chest to try to get my way. I try to figure out ways to make it as clear to other people why we should head in a direction. And that’s when the idea of a screen test came up.”
At that point, Downey had already been nominated for an Oscar for Chaplin and should have been able to get the role without auditioning, but Marvel execs needed to see for themselves that he was the right person for the part — and they did.
Following his Iron Man casting, the Oppenheimer actor went on to be a team player with his fellow superheroes and fought for them at various points. Ahead of the first Avengers, he even used his contract negotiations to get higher pay for his co-stars.
“We used to joke and say that Robert was the head of the acting department because everybody there looked up to him,” Feige added. “He took them all under his wing but not in a subservient sense. He just became their cheerleader.”