Even though Tony Stark sacrificed himself to save the universe during the climax of Avengers: Endgame, marking what was reported to be Robert Downey Jr.’s final act as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the speculation surrounding his return to the franchise that turned him into one of the biggest movie stars on the planet has never really gone away.
A cameo in Black Widow is all-but-confirmed at this point, and with Natasha Romanoff’s solo outing set to be a prequel taking place directly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, there’s at least a narrative loophole where his appearance makes sense in the context of the story. In regards to a full return, well, we’ve previously reported that Downey Jr.’s asking price was the stumbling block in negotiations, although he’s rumored to be more open to the idea if he’s given the chance to work with protege Tom Holland again.
However, it seems like RDJ’s first non-MCU movie in six years has dented his bargaining power a bit. According to our sources – the same ones who said the Guardians will cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder and Transformers is being rebooted, both of which we now know to be true – Dolittle bombing spectacularly at the box office in the wake of awful reviews has seen the actor become more reasonable when it comes to the financial terms of a new contract and he’s open to accepting less money for a return now.
While nothing is set in stone as of yet, it seems unlikely that Iron Man will be brought back to headline more major MCU blockbusters, with our intel indicating that he’ll instead have a small recurring role in a proposed Ironheart show on Disney Plus, potentially alongside Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, who also claims to be retired from Marvel duty.
In any case, after Dolittle tanked, with the family flick set to be remembered for the dragon colonoscopy more than anything else, and now news of the Sherlock Holmes star willing to drop his massive salary demand, it seems like Downey Jr. might need the MCU more than it needs him right now.