“I feel like I could do one more.“
That’s all Robert Downey Jr. had to say during a Nightline interview about a possible fourth Iron Man solo film and now everyone, including me, is freaking out. He’s the Godfather of the MCU, so it would be fitting to give Tony Stark a proper solo sendoff with Iron Man 4 instead of log-jamming RDJ’s exit from Marvel in the climactic, two-part Avengers: Infinity War films.
2008’s Iron Man jump-started the whole coordinated Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to Downey Jr.’s career-defining performance of Anthony “Tony” Stark. Following that with two independent sequels, four total Avengers films and shared screen-time in next week’s Captain America: Civil War, that’s a total of eight times Stark has been brought to life on the big screen (and that doesn’t include his forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming role, or his cameo appearance in The Incredible Hulk).
That kind of commitment to the role means RDJ should be able to leave his iconic role on his terms. If he’s happy leaving the legacy behind following Infinity War, so be it. However, if he decides he wants one last go around in the iron suit, no one… especially you, Kevin Feige… should stand in his way.
However, where do you go with a proposed fourth Iron Man movie (let’s be honest, it’d be called Iron Man 4)? Well I’m glad you asked, because I just happen to have 3 very specific paths this speculative film could take.
-A Showdown with the Real Mandarin-
I have previously mentioned my affinity for the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3. I thought it took guts to pull off… and it was a scene that made people’s jaw drop in the theater (in either a good way, or bad way… depending on who you ask). However, it seems that even Marvel wasn’t sold on the idea that Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery was, in fact, the real Mandarin.
The Marvel one-shot, All Hail the King, let it be known that the 10 Rings weren’t pleased with Slattery’s performance, and that the real Mandarin wanted a word with him. That left the door open for a newer version of the Mandarin. You can even have Scoot McNairy return as one of the 10 Rings leaders. Heck, you can even have Justin Hammer tag along since he was in the same prison. The world needs more Sam Rockwell.
Bringing The Mandarin back will allow for Tony Stark to finish his mission of destroying him. If you’re going to have Iron Man 4 be the final showdown, you might as well make it against Iron Man’s most iconic arch-enemy. Bonus note, by bringing in Doctor Strange, you are also bringing in mysticism, which in my opinion allows you to bring a character like Fin Fang Foom into the fold. Iron Man + a Mandarin-controlled Dragon = Box Office Gold.
-Assemble the Illumanti-
Now, I stated previously that you don’t want Iron Man’s exit to be overshadowed by another team-up movie. However, what if it’s about his assembling a covert group to pull the string of the MCU from behind the curtain?
Iron Man: Illuminati can follow the two part Infinity War... and show Tony Stark putting together a group of leaders who will protect the world when he’s gone. The Illuminati can include Phase 3 inductees Black Panther and Doctor Strange, then branch out to other new characters including Black Bolt, Namor, or even….maybe, just maybe… Mr. Fantastic??
Allow Tony Stark to build a group in his own image, using characters that will be vital to Phase 4 of the MCU. By the end of the movie, perhaps Stark sacrifices himself… writing RDJ out of the Marvel Universe, but leaving his legacy behind in the hands of the remaining Illuminati. Then the group can take over Phase 4, before other heroes need to stop their conniving ways by the time another Avengers movies roles in around 2024 or whenever.
-Tony Stark… in Space-
So this one isn’t as crazy as you’d think, and it’d be real easy to set up. Should Star-Lord make an appearance in Infinity War (and if the Russo’s get their way, it’s happening)? If we get our wish and he does show up, Peter Quill is going to need a way home. Hello, Stark Industries, who can work to help build a spaceship allowing Star-Lord to continue guarding the galaxy. But…what if Stark never comes home?
Iron Man has spent plenty of time living among the stars and was even recruited at one point to join The Guardians of the Galaxy. While I’m not saying that Guardians Vol. 3 should include a Stark team-up (although I’m not opposed to the idea), having Tony Stark remain in space isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
You can include cameos from other space dwellers such as Captain Marvel or even Nova and show RDJ protecting Earth from afar, ensuring no other being like Thanos comes into power again. By throwing Stark into space, it keeps Earth clear for Phase 4 to unfold without wondering why Tony Stark isn’t showing up. Plus… did I mention Tony Stark hitting on space aliens? That’s totally in the cards. Sorry, Pepper.
So what are your thoughts on a potential Iron Man 4? Would any of these ideas get you running into the theaters? If not… let us know how you would wrap up RDJ’s legacy in a final Iron Man movie.