After spending a decade as the biggest star in the most popular franchise on the planet before gracefully bowing out during Avengers: Endgame‘s emotional finale, Robert Downey Jr. will be fully aware that he’ll be fielding questions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the remainder of his career.
From the second Endgame faded to black, the actor has almost continuously been linked with a return, especially after his first non-MCU project in six years didn’t go to plan when Dolittle bombed at the box office and was savaged by critics. There’s more than enough content coming over the next few years to make it clear that the shared universe doesn’t need Iron Man to succeed, but fans would obviously welcome Downey Jr. back with open arms.
However, as much as a return would severely dilute the impact of Tony Stark’s sacrifice, two upcoming Disney Plus shows present the ideal opportunity to have him appear in some fashion without compromising Avengers: Endgame‘s conclusion. For one, Dominique Thorne has been confirmed as the title heroine in Ironheart, and in the comic books, Tony was once the voice of her suit’s artificial intelligence.
Not only that, but Don Cheadle is set to headline Armor Wars, which sees War Machine forced into action after valuable and potentially dangerous Stark Industries technology falls into the wrong hands. The basic concept alone guarantees that Tony’s shadow will loom large over the story, and given the close relationship between their two characters, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to rope in RDJ for some flashbacks tying the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist to the villains of the piece, or use unseen footage to have him appear as a hologram to guide Rhodey or Riri from beyond the grave.