Robert Downey Jr. holds the future of the Iron Man franchise in his nearly 50-year-old hands, and it’s widely believed that the actor isn’t interested in reprising the character for Iron Man 4. That is, unless Marvel is willing to bend over backwards to accommodate one of Downey’s good friends.
Speaking recently with Deadline, Downey reflected on the fact that he’s approaching his 50th birthday as one of the biggest actors in the world. The Iron Man franchise has pulled in nearly $2.5 billion in worldwide receipts across three movies, and Downey’s take on Iron Man’s alter ego Tony Stark has provided the cornerstone for Marvel’s Avengers franchise. Still, Downey found himself looking at his co-stars in Avengers: Age of Ultron and feeling a bit older.
“I also think about how much easier it was to remember on this last Avengers that I’m 20 years older than pretty much everyone there,” Downey said. “That’s pretty much the cast. Ruffalo and I are a little closer in age and maybe Spader has a couple years on me, but you know what I mean.”
Of course, Downey fans and Marvel movie execs are hoping the actor doesn’t feel the weight of the years too much. Marvel has become a reliable hit machine, even with its movies that don’t feature Downey’s Iron Man, but the studio would still love to have Downey on call should a property need a dash of Iron Man or a Tony Stark cameo to spruce it up.
Downey’s had fans and execs alike on edge of recent, saying that there are currently no plans for a fourth Iron Man movie, and that has had some speculating that Downey might be ready to hang up the Iron Man mask in the near future. He allayed those fears in a recent interview, though, saying that he’s going to surf the Iron Man wave all the way into the shore.
Downey did not, though, say that he’s committed to a fourth Iron Man flick, and Deadline asked him about the possibility again. His answer was… well…
“Marvel badly wants ‘Iron Man 4,'” the Deadline interviewer posited to Downey, “How about the idea you’ll do that movie if Mel [Gibson] directs it?”
“Correct,” Downey responded.
Of course, Downey and the interviewer were joking, evidenced by Downey’s follow-up, “That movie would be bananas.” There’s little chance that Marvel would risk its Iron Man franchise by attaching the still somewhat radioactive name of Mel Gibson to the project.
The joke came in the context of a larger discussion over whether or not Mel has paid his “debt to society” following a widely publicized meltdown that brought in sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism, as well as allegations of domestic abuse. Downey, though, believes that Mel has atoned and is a changed man.
“Nobody should make a case for somebody who just wants forgiveness but hasn’t changed, but he’s a fundamentally different guy,” Downey said of Gibson. “I think it was just the very worst aspects of somebody’s psyche being treated as though they were the blanket statement about a person.”
Getting back to Iron Man and the possibility of Iron Man 4, Downey said that, while he intends to stick with the character, he hopes that both he and Marvel are able to see when the rust begins to show.
“So it becomes a matter of, at what point do I cease to be an asset [to Marvel as Iron Man]?” Downey reasoned. He went on to say that the work involved in an Iron Man flick would also pull him away from his family; not the most attractive of options as Downey approaches 50, with two young children in tow.
Still, Downey didn’t dismiss the possibility, and he may well have opened up a door for more Iron Man 4 speculation. Initially asked about the possibility of a fourth Iron Man movie, Downey didn’t shoot it down. In fact, he appeared to say it was in discussion.
“That’s all being talked about on a bunch of different levels right now,” Downey said. “To me, it comes down to what’s the half-life of people enjoying a character?”
[Lead image via MTV]