Rumor, a Marvel executive claims Robert Downey Jr. is “no longer on the table.”

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In light of speculation over Robert Downey Jr.’s potential return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a Marvel Studios official stated that Iron Man “no longer is on the table.” It’s safe to say that since both actors left the MCU with 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, fans have been missing Downey Jr. and his illustrious Iron Man. Ever since the incident that marked the end of the Infinity Saga, many people have even been speculating about the many methods and locations Tony Stark may make a comeback. These hypotheses have only been strengthened by the Multiverse Saga, where the introduction of Variants has made it possible for RDJ to appear in a different reality. Yet, there are plenty more possibilities for how Stark may appear again in War Machine’s upcoming Iron Man spin-off Armor Wars.

Stephen Broussard, the vice president of production and development at Marvel Studios, explained that Phase 4 was all about “a new generation moving to the forefront” as characters like Iron Man, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., were “no longer on the table:

“I believe that one of Phase Four’s meta-narratives involved the introduction of new characters. It dealt with new individuals taking on leadership roles. Consider how Kate Bishop in “Hawkeye” and Cassie Lang in “Quantumania” introduced new characters like Jack from “Werewolf by Night.” Torches are being passed after the first ten years of Marvel storytelling, as evidenced by the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is no longer [on the] table and other similar things. Thus, it was somewhat akin to a new generation taking the lead, which has always happened in comic books.”

The timing of Broussard’s remarks coincides with speculation that Downey Jr. would play Iron Man once more in a future Multiverse Saga production. The Iron Man spin-offs Ironheart and Armor Wars, as well as the obvious Avengers: Secret Wars, have all been mentioned as potential top candidates to see the armoured Avenger return. Speaking to GQ Magazine in February 2021, Downey Jr. made his last comments about a prospective MCU comeback, stating that he had “alighted, for now,” but cryptically added, “never say never.” Jonathan Majors, who plays Kang in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, recently shared with Lifehacker’s Lauren Rouse his desire to compete against Iron Man to “test how our ideas, acting-wise and character-wise… fit up:”

“I would love to play opposite him on screen to see how our acting and character-building philosophies, just on a personal level, mesh. Iron Man fascinates me because, you know, I find him to be such a fascinating artist. His portrayal of Iron Man is incredibly fascinating, and he embodies the Avengers’ spirit and worldview to a T. Kang, in my opinion, is a product of a different time.”

In particular, Majors expressed his desire to have Kang and Iron Man “get along and have a little bit of a conversation:

“It’d be really interesting to see those two kind of cross paths and engage in some small talk.”

Stephen Broussard is referring to the cast of characters and performers that Marvel Studios typically has available when he says that Robert Downey Jr. and his armoured Avenger are no longer on the table. This most likely refers to performers who are no longer employed by the studio or in frequent contact with them. Since that they have already announced their official MCU exits, Chris Evans’ Captain America and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow presumably fall under the same “off the table” category as Downey Jr. Yet, this does not negate the prospect of these venerable Avengers making a special cameo in the future.

Earlier speculations about the big event Avengers: Secret Wars in 2026 said Marvel Studios wanted to “include as many heavy hitters as they can.” The MCU Originals are an obvious choice given that this cast will feature classic characters like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Include at least a few of these well-known actors in The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars, since Marvel Studios will be trying to create as much buzz as possible. To realise that, one just has to consider how rumours about Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s comebacks influenced the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home at the box office. Nevertheless, considering the type of financial commitment bringing these stars back will need, fans shouldn’t regrettably hope for it to happen frequently. It is also nearly assured that it will happen on the big screen, not Disney+. It is quite improbable that they will show up in anything less than an Avengers-level big movie.

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