Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark constitute one of the most cited actor-character assimilations in all film history. How many times have you heard the sentence “Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark,” with that drawn-out emphasis on the word is in place for good measure?
Robert Downey Jr. has been intimately tied the sarcastic “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” since he first donned the metal suit of armor back in 2008. Often credited for catalyzing the MCU, and the Avengers saga, Robert Downey Jr. is Marvel’s figurehead: the vital man behind the mask.
Fans – especially at this point in time – no matter how epic the casting was, would never accept another Tony Stark. If we haven’t made it clear enough on Twitter, and every other social media outlet at our immediate disposal, no one else can be the Tony Stark we know and love. And, Marvel Studios is gravely aware, which is exactly why there won’t be another Tony Stark (at least for quite some time).
Robert Downey Jr. will live on as the only Tony Stark, but not as the only Iron Man
Marvel Studios isn’t shortsighted; meaning, they wouldn’t kill off one of their biggest money-making superheroes without a plan in mind. While Robert Downey Jr.’s contract was up, and it was time for his journey as the metal-armored savior to come to an end (in terms of narrative), Iron Man may not be gone for good.
The next time you see Iron Man, the human identity will not be that of Tony Stark, for replacing Tony Stark is the challenge. If someone else with a different name, a different origin story, and a different personality puts on the suit, fans won’t possess the urge to compare the character to Stark, for the character will not be designed to fill those shoes.
No one can fill Robert Downey Jr.’s shoes as Tony Stark. Downey will forever be Tony, for it is not the suit – it is not the Iron Man armor that Downey’s portrayal claims ownership to – it is the man underneath. Thus, someone else can take the mantle; someone else can take the suit. They just can’t take the character.
Someone else can wear the suit, and bring to it a different internal operator. Without the urge to draw comparisons, the new actor will be able to exist as Iron Man (without existing as an alternative to Tony Stark). And, given Marvel’s knack for thinking ahead, we likely know who the next Iron Man will be; however, it may be more appropriate to call him the Iron kid…
Ty Simpkins to play Iron Lad following Robert Downey Jr.’s final turn as Iron Man in ‘Avengers: Endgame?’
WARNING: Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead
If you were watching closely during Tony Stark’s funeral in Avengers: Endgame, you likely noticed that Ty Simpkins, who played Harley in Iron Man 3, was present. Simpkin’s presence has led many to believe that he will appear in the Young Avengers, rumored to be hitting cinemas sometime in 2022.
The Young Avengers, according to We Got This Covered, will likely be Marvel’s next big mash-up, and the superheroes present are said to be Iron Lad, Vision 2.0, Hulkling, Wiccan, Stature, and more. Iron Lad’s comic book origin story (and name) don’t quite align with that of the MCU, but when have the comics and the movies ever been in alignment?
In the comics, Iron Lad goes by Nathaniel Richards and is a much younger version of Iron Man. He has his own story – one very different from that of Tony Stark – yet because the character has gone through several different iterations, the movie may can in various directions, or choose a different path altogether. Either way, Marvel always has a plan, and Ty Simpkin’s appearance likely isn’t a coincidence.
While no actor who plays a superhero can claim the rights to that superhero forever, the MCU will likely face backlash if they replace Tony Stark while RDJ is still walking on this earth.
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