Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man Could Return in These 3 MCU Movies

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Robert Downey Jr Avengers

Here are three upcoming MCU movies that could bring back Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark aka Iron Man.

Downey Jr.'s Iron Man was the hero that started it all for the MCU in 2008, and since his story ended with his demise in 2019's Avengers: Endgame, fans have constantly been theorizing how the fan-favorite hero could return.

3 Movies Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man Could Return In

1.) Armor Wars

Robert Downey Jr Armor Wars

Don Cheadle's War Machine solo movie, Armor Wars, will celebrate the legacy of Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man in a story that will see advanced Stark technology falling into the wrong hands and Rhodey tasked with getting it back.

The Iron Man spin-off was originally charted as a Disney+ series before catching an upgrade to a big-screen movie, leading many to speculate the change was made in order to facilitate Downey Jr.'s return.

As Armor Wars isn't currently expected to involve the Multiverse or time travel, Iron Man probably won't be making any form of present-day appearance here. But perhaps he could still appear as an A.I. voice or through a flashback.

However, as Marvel Studios will probably want to make a jaw-dropping event out of Iron Man's return akin to that of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, these options generally feel rather improbable. 

2.) Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

Avengers Kang Dynasty MCU

The Multiverse Saga has put Variants and alternate universes at the center of it all, and all of that will begin to culminate with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. So, even with Earth-616's Tony Stark now deceased, the crossover event will offer an opportunity to bring in a Variant of Robert Downey Jr.'s hero.

Some theorized Jonathan Majors' Kang could form the Legion of the Unliving, as he has in Marvel Comics, to combat the Avengers. The team brings together heroes resurrected and pulled from various time periods to take on Earth's Mightiest Heroes while also messing with their heads.

But alas, it seems rather unlikely Tony Stark will make his way into Avengers 5, as the studio will probably want the founding Avenger to sit out at least one ensemble blockbuster before returning. This will allow The Kang Dynasty to keep its focus on uniting the new heroes before Secret Wars brings back familiar faces.

But if Downey Jr. were to serve as a major player in Secret Wars, perhaps he could pop up in a post-credits scene in The Kang Dynasty to confirm his return and get fans excited for what's to come one year later.

Then again, with the MCU having seen some decline in interest and reputation in the post-Endgame world, Marvel Studios may feel the need to pull in its OG heroes for Avengers 5 if there are fears of whether the more recent characters won't be able to carry an ensemble blockbuster on the same level.

3.) Avengers: Secret Wars

Avengers Secret Wars MCU

Undeniably the most likely project for Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man to make his big comeback comes with 2027's Avengers: Secret Wars, the culmination of the Multiverse Saga. By that point, eight years and one Avengers movie will have passed since his last appearance, allowing his return to feel properly earned.

Most are expecting Secret Wars to bring back many classic Marvel heroes from the old Fox universe to the MCU and hopefully a few Spider-Men. If the studio looking to deliver fan service on levels unheard of with Avengers 6, including Downey Jr.'s Iron Man is a no-brainer.

The essence of Secret Wars sees the heroes of different universes going head-to-head, and there may be no better way to take the MCU full circle than to have Earth-616's Avengers face-off with an alternate team led by Iron Man.

It's tough to know just how big a role Downey Jr. would even end up having in the next Avengers movies if he were to come back. Marvel Studios will obviously want the focus to remain on its current leading faces, and placing too much focus on nostalgia could ultimately risk distracting from meaningful character work.

Will Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man Actually Ever Return?

Robert Downey Jr. has always had a “never say never” attitude to a potential MCU return, but it would require the right storyline. So the actor probably won't be looking to come back just to appear as fan service but rather will want to see a storyline that justifies his inclusion in a meaningful way.

Whatever project it may come in, Downey Jr.'s role will likely end up being beyond a cameo in order to ensure his return feels earned and worthwhile. But fans shouldn't expect to see Iron Man back to leading the Avengers or taking a starring role in any MCU movie as the time for that has passed.

Additionally, Iron Man's comeback probably won't be confirmed, at least officially, until whatever project it comes in ultimately releases. After all, Spider-Man: No Way Home proved even rumors of returning fan favorites will be enough to drive interest and box office - something the studio may look to replicate.

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty hits theaters on May 1, 2026, with Avengers: Secret Wars set to follow on May 7, 2027. Armor Wars has no official release date yet.

- In This Article: Armor Wars
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- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.