Captain America: Civil War Director Joe Russo Discusses The Only Way To Recast Iron Man

No one wants to face it, but at some point in the future the day will come when Robert Downey Jr. says “Enough. I’ve got more gold bars than any person could ever hope to spend in several lifetimes. I am retiring as Iron Man.”

Seeing as Marvel Studios’ contracts with many of its leading stars are nearing expiration – and Downey Jr’s fees are rising – there’s a chance that day isn’t far off. Thing is, Iron Man’s a pretty popular character, and it’s unlikely that the studio would want to put his brand out to pasture. So, how might they go about reviving him?

Captain America: Civil War director Joe Russo addressed this matter with Forbes, throwing in his opinion on how difficult that might be:

“It’s almost impossible to replace Robert, he’s the biggest movie star in the world. One close up from Robert is worth another actor’s entire performance, he’s incredibly gifted and insanely talented. I think if and when he is done with the character I think you will find that Iron Man might disappear for a while.”

With Iron Man out of the way, that would give time for other MCU characters to take center stage. But should he return, there’d have to be a hell of a lot of water under the bridge:

“I think the only way that you could reboot that character is to give a generational gap that would allow another actor to at least have a chance to redefine that character without the enormous spectre of Robert hanging over it. There are so many characters in the Marvel universe that can pick up the ball and run without it through the next phase or two before you need to see Iron Man again, frankly.”

Several years back, Marvel’s Kevin Feige made a similar statement, comparing Iron Man to James Bond. He believed – back then, anyway – that the character would go on for many, many years in solo movies played by a revolving door of actors. It’s tough to see that happening in such a drastic way, especially since the on-again, off-again topic of Iron Man 4 seemingly reached its conclusion this week.

Don’t fret just yet, though. You can get your next Iron Man fix in a little film called Captain America: Civil War, which is due for release on May 6.