“There is not a mystery-verse built out anywhere”: Robert Downey Jr. Still Has a Billion-Dollar Movie Franchise That Can Bring Him Back to Marvel Glory Days if it Becomes a Cinematic Universe

Marvel Cinematic Universe revered Robert Downey Jr. as its Godfather, but now that he's gone, what does the Godfather do to kill time?

robert downey jr.


  • Robert Downey Jr.'s era at the Marvel company makes him uniquely qualified for another billion-dollar movie franchise.
  • Sherlock Holmes presents Robert Downey Jr. with a chance to reclaim his glory days after retiring from Marvel.
  • Robert Downey Jr.'s Oscar-winning arc in Oppenheimer brings his Hollywood career a full circle.
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The world of Marvel has been kind to Robert Downey Jr. With a firm grasp over his career and an awareness of his influence in Hollywood, the Godfather of the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes a step in the right direction as he enters the renaissance era of film and television. Oppenheimer and The Sympathizer are glaring examples of his expansive range and commitment to his craft.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame [Credit: Marvel Studios]
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame [Credit: Marvel Studios]

With indie studios like A24 and powerful storytellers like Taylor Sheridan taking control of the entertainment industry, it is no longer a question of if but when Robert Downey Jr. plans to return to the mainstream franchises.

Robert Downey Jr. Calls Back to His Glory Days

When the Iron Man star donned a signature British snark, smoking a pipe and running around old London solving unnatural crimes, it gave hope to all those parched dark academia souls who yearned for moody aesthetic films with noir cinematography, haunting music, and a dark sense of humor.


For all that Benedict Cumberbatch accomplished with his BBC series, one cannot avoid falling for the old-world charm of 1890s London viewed through the lens of director Guy Ritchie.

RDJ and Jude Law as Sherlock and Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009) [Credit: Warner Bros.]
RDJ and Jude Law as Sherlock and Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009) [Credit: Warner Bros.]

However, the billion-dollar period thriller franchise adds another optimistic twist to Robert Downey Jr.’s decked Hollywood story. It calls on his expertise to oversee the formation of a cinematic universe through his 11-year-long arc at Marvel.

During an October 2020 interview with Fast Company, the actor revealed:


At this point, we really feel that there is not a mystery-verse built out anywhere, and [Sir Arthur] Conan Doyle is the definitive voice in that arena, I think, to this day. So to me, why do a third movie if you’re not going to be able to spin off into some real gems of diversity and other times and elements?

In simpler words, what good is an established IP if one is not going to build a cinematic universe around it? After Sherlock Holmes 3 failed to deliver on its 2021 deadline, chances are looking slimmer with each passing year to get the Warner Bros.-owned IP to move ahead with the threequel.

But despite the grievances, Robert Downey Jr. still keeps hope alive for the third film’s revival. After the critical and commercial success of the beloved duology Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), a cinematic universe built around the character and all his grand misadventures with Jude Law‘s Dr. Watson in tow will surely make for a good franchise comprising feature films and episodic tv series.

As historically and culturally beloved as the character is, reviving the Sherlock Holmes franchise and allowing a cinematic universe to flourish under its banner will serve as a callback to Robert Downey Jr.’s glory days in the MCU.


Robert Downey Jr. Deserves a Detour

Robert Downey Jr. in The Sympathizer [Credit: HBO]
Robert Downey Jr. in The Sympathizer [Credit: HBO]

With his reign in Marvel keeping Robert Downey Jr. occupied until 2019, the superhero-famed actor has now taken a positive liking to all the eccentric tastes that Hollywood caters to. Doolittle was one of those eccentricities that sounds good on paper but fails to transfer to the screen. But after a decade of being stuck with mo-cap dots on his face while tackling imaginary monsters, a little detour from the usual seems justified on Downey’s part.

The 2020 film offered a journey of childlike fascination paired with family-friendly adventure but earned a mere 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, inviting a question of whether Marvel actors are really suited for work outside the realm of superheroes and monsters.

Now, with his Oscar-winning turn in Oppenheimer and a glorious, multi-layered role in The Sympathizer, those debates have been laid to rest for good. One can only hope he delivers on his Sherlock Holmes promise despite the multiple delays on the studio’s part.


Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel are available to stream on Max.

Diya Majumdar

Written by Diya Majumdar

Articles Published: 1668

With a degree in Literature from Miranda House, Diya Majumdar now has over 1600 published articles on FandomWire. Her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema while being a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for music, Monet, and Van Gogh.