To say Marvel Studios' Iron Man actor is an icon would be an understatement. The MCU has changed the very fabric of movie-making, and Robert Downey Jr. has an intrinsic part in that.
However, the franchise has been without its first leading man for nearly four years now, as Downey said goodbye to Tony Stark in the closing moments of Avengers: Endgame.
Despite the actor not popping up in the super-powered world for a few years, his character's impact is still being felt, with characters like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Riri Williams being "a nod to Tony Stark." Pair that with constant rumors and theories of the actor's return, and Downey's connection to the MCU has remained about as strong as it has ever been.
But with some separation between the Iron Man star and his Marvel Studios departure, Downey can now look back. And he has, offering up the four things that he misses most about the MCU.
RDJ Misses the MCU
Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. broke down four points he misses about the MCU, after his decade-long tenure with the franchise came to an end in Avengers: Endgame.
Downey told Deadline that he fondly looks back on "being in the trenches" with Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige. The actor then listed off three more notable segments of his MCU journey (1."The Beginning"; 2. "The Middle"; 3. "The End") that he also misses the most:
"What I miss most? Being in the trenches with Kevin Feige throughout; the beginning, with Jon Favreau, it’s like a beautiful dream now; the middle, with Shane Black on Iron Man 3, we’d just had Exton and shot it mostly in Wilmington NC. It was idyllic and subversive. And The End, when I realized I’d made so many close friends in the MCU cast, and the Russo Brothers helping me embrace Tony’s arc."
He also addressed the Iron Man audition process, noting that despite many of the Marvel Studios brass not wanting Downey for the role, director Jon Favreau "[pushed] for [him]" and "knew he had to play the politics or he would have no leverage moving forward:"
"Another full circle story. I exchanged my previous obsession with an obsession for this role and landing it, and lest we forget, it was Favreau who was pushing for me but knew he had to play the politics or he would have no leverage moving forward."
The iconic actor then brought up what his father (iconic Hollywood director Robert Downey Sr.) thought of him taking on the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, remarking that the first Iron Man film was much like "a big budget Sr. movie:"
"Then we proceeded to launch a historic run of what is now the cinematic universe with Favreau and I essentially doing our version of a big budget Sr. movie. With all the templates of a genre film, with our intention of making it as marketable as possible."
Would Robert Downey Jr. Return to the MCU?
Even though it has been only about four years since Robert Downey Jr. left the MCU, it seems one of the hottest topics amongst fans is if/when his character will return.
When the actor left back in 2019, it felt as though he has put in his time. He had done over ten years in the role, and it was the perfect moment to give his hero the send-off he deserved. But as comic fans know, no one is ever 100% dead in these universes.
If the actor wanted to jump back on the wagon, there is certainly ample opportunity for him to do so. And as time goes by, and Downey has the opportunity to reflect on his time with Marvel Studios, he may get that itch yet again.
While the easiest option would be for him to show up in the Multiversal epic Avengers: Secret Wars, standing alongside other rumored Marvel heroes like Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. But one smaller role for the actor has caught the eye of many.
There has been chatter that Downey would be back in the upcoming Armor Wars film, "[coming] back as an AI." This move could make sense if the MCU vet did want to jump back in.
He could then continue to be a part of the universe, helping to usher in the next generation of Marvel without being as involved as getting in front of the camera as Tony Stark/Iron Man would entail.