Though the MCU’s Phase 4 is full of awesome-sounding movies, it’ll be a very different franchise now that Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have departed. While it’s almost universally agreed that Avengers: Endgame provided them two truly epic and emotional endings, we now need to move forward into a world without Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, and that certainly won’t be easy to do.
In a recent interview with Disney Twenty-Three magazine, the company’s exclusive “insider” publication, Robert Downey Jr. reflected on his MCU exit and was asked why he and Evans agreed to leave now. In his reply, the actor explained that it was simply time to get off the bus.
“We had to get off. We opted to, and knew it was part of the job to get off the bus while it rolled on to other destinations. There’s something very sobering about it. I’m glad he and I will be there to welcome others as they retire their jerseys.”
He also displayed a touching bit of modesty when asked to evaluate his legacy within the MCU, saying:
“I really don’t need to look any farther than my co-stars. Mark Ruffalo is an activist, Chris Evans is a diehard American and proponent of true democracy. I don’t really have the gumption, the skill set, the drive, or the humility either of those guys do.”
Downey Jr. is definitely downplaying his contributions here. It’s arguable that the whole MCU project might never have gotten off the ground if Iron Man hadn’t been the hit it was. His performance as Tony Stark set a tone for the franchise that it consistently built on year after year. This eventually led to Avengers: Endgame, which is now the biggest movie of all-time and almost universally beloved.
But I wouldn’t be so sure that this really is Downey Jr.’s last MCU appearance. After all, he already showed up in Spider-Man: Far From Home (albeit in flashback) and if the Ironheart rumors prove true, then we may one day see Stark voicing the character’s JARVIS in-suit equivalent. After all, Tony Stark may be dead, but I suspect we’ll be feeling his fingerprints in the MCU for a good few years yet.