Robert Downey Jr.’s revival in Marvel is a subject that has not only been contented on several fronts but sorely criticized and judged. The arc broadly explored and engaged within the three phases comprising the Infinity Saga no longer finds a place in the coming future. And there is a sense of poetic closure in knowing that RDJ, the godfather of the Marvel universe, and his arc as Tony Stark – the one who laid down his life to save it – should end with Endgame.
Also read: “There’s something very sobering about it”: Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. Has a Moving Reason Behind Leaving Marvel Franchise
Robert Downey Jr.’s Arc as Tony Stark Has Come to an End
In an io9 conference, the Marvel VP of Production and Development, Stephen Broussard characteristically claimed the one thing out loud that all Marvel fans dreaded but knew was inevitable. His conversation surrounding the future of the MCU and its currently unfolding Multiverse Saga is devoid of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark – in his original as well as variant form. According to Broussard,
“After these first 10 years of Marvel storytelling, torches are being passed, like with Robert Downey Jr. no longer being [on the] table and stuff like that. So it was kind of like a new generation stepping to the forefront which, again, has always happened in the comics.”
Also read: ‘The man had a good ending and people want to cheapen that’: Fans Support Marvel Boss Confirming Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man Won’t Fight Kang in Secret Wars Rumors
The created future we now find ourselves in ironically leads back to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. In an epic chronology of events, the Avengers traveling back to the past, finding a way to set things right, and giving the universe another day to live and fight for, was all made possible because of the Time Heist, an event which would not have happened without Stark’s ingenious invention.
One would think that’s enough contribution from the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist for one saga within the MCU. But he also sacrificed himself at the end of it all to stop Thanos. Bringing RDJ back diminishes the grandeur of his arc that witnessed so much pain, tragedy, hope, optimism, love, and loss. That, in all logic and rationality, is the truth.
Robert Downey Jr. Needs to Remain Absent From the MCU
RDJ’s presence in the MCU has always been equivalent to parental stability. Throughout the films that have witnessed Tony Stark/Iron Man, all of the fights, the battles, the rebuilding, and the victories that he has been a part of – have always allowed the world to find its way back to safety. And in this future devoid of the raging, apocalyptic vision and ambition of Thanos, Tony Stark’s fight needs to come to rest. And the fandom seems to be coming to terms with the fact.
Also read: Black Panther 2 Deleted Scene Deprived Fans of Major Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man Homage to Ensure Ironheart Maintains Her Originality for Upcoming Series
Unfortunately, the debate about Marvel’s progressive stance allowing more representation and discourse within its stories has allowed some among the fandom to associate the truth of RDJ’s martyrdom and his not coming back with criticisms of woke ideology.
This angle of the debate intentionally misses the point where RDJ’s absence is a matter of respecting the actor and his arc’s story. Bringing him back as a Variant in Secret Wars just works as pandering to mass appeal and a cameo that does nothing but take away the epic tragedy of Iron Man’s sacrifice for the sake of a 10-second cameo.
Marvel says Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly “no longer on the table” to return as Iron Man. pic.twitter.com/9iZJk1pjnp
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) February 22, 2023
Good! We don’t want Robert WOKEney Jr. Anyway. We need to prioritize captain America as the lead marvel character. For once can Hollyweird put America first??
— Blizzy🐬⬆️ (@BlizzyFins) February 22, 2023
Thank God! I’m sorry, but that death needs to stay meaningful, and even if they explained it away as a Variant or just a cameo or whatever, it would take away something special about that moment
— Miguel Legoas (@miguelegoas) February 23, 2023
i dont want anyone else to play iron man, retire the role
— Sandi | UTD🇶🇦 (@utdsandi) February 22, 2023
RDJ is officially apart of the LOTR and Harry Potter group of perfect execution. He did so perfect at the role and film franchise, he doesn’t need to return. Doesn’t need to come back and shouldn’t ever. Let his history be his glory. What a time it was so witness him in all the… https://t.co/85IPQQopnu
— Kyle Fletcher (@KFLETCH___) February 22, 2023
However, the other side of the debate also witnesses the fans raging from the inside out asking to let the actor come back. Since the Endgame era, the intermediary Marvel Phase Four arc has led to a study of how the CBM franchise has failed to remain relevant to the audience because of its extended arc stretching all the way back to 2008. This has also given rise to conversations about Marvel fatigue.
Moreover, this fatigue also seems to originate from the lack of the original six, especially RDJ and Chris Evans whose absence coincides perfectly with the degrading quality of the MCU projects. Putting two and two together leads to an understandable conclusion that has now made some among the fandom believe that Robert Downey Jr. coming back would also bring back the now lost quality to the MCU which once made Marvel the standing edifice of vision, grandeur, and glory.
The Iron Man trilogy and Avengers: Endgame are now available for streaming on DIsney+