The release of The Avengers is now only a week away, but Marvel and Co. are already busy prepping for the beginning of production on Iron Man 3 later next month. It’s no secret that much of the first Iron Man’s success is due to the charisma and talent of lead actor Robert Downey Jr., but as these things go, Downey most likely won’t be donning the suit for Iron Man 9. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recently addressed the issue of what the studio would do should Downey decide to bow out of the role in the near future. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
Marvel has famously locked many of their actors into very large multi-picture deals, contractually obligating them to appear in a certain number of Marvel films (Samuel L. Jackson signed on for 9 movies). However, it’s important to note that Downey entered the fray very early in Marvel’s feature film days, so we don’t exactly know how many movies he’s locked in to. Badass Digest asked Feige if they would reboot the series if Downey left or if they would simply replace him with another actor and give no explanation for the casting change, a la James Bond:
“I think Bond is a good example. Let’s put it this way: I hope Downey makes a lot of movies for us as Stark. If and when he doesn’t, and I’m still here making these movies, we don’t take him to Afghanistan and have him wounded again. I think we James Bond it.”
This is an interesting notion, as the go-to response for most studios when a franchise begins to lag is to “reboot” it and do the origin story again. I sincerely hope Downey sticks around for a while, but it’s not hard to imagine him exiting Marvel after The Avengers 2. An actor of his caliber likely has a million projects on his plate, and doing a big-budget superhero movie every couple of years takes up precious time.
The “James Bond” technique doesn’t work for all franchises, but I’m quite intrigued to see how Marvel would implement the strategy. Given that all their characters are based on comic books, a medium that has been through countless changes over the years, it might be cool to see further Iron Man films done as “new issues” rather than re-doing the origin story with a slightly different take every six years or so. Moreover, given that all the Marvel films are interconnected, it would be less easy to do a reboot with an entirely different tone and feel without making the character stand in stark contrast to the other films in the Marvel library.
Nevertheless, Downey is definitely around for at least Iron Man 3, so all this talk of reboot vs. James Bond is fairly premature. If and when the time comes, though, we now have an idea of the route Marvel will take.