Real Reason Marvel Was Happy to Drop Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man

Real Reason Marvel Was Happy to Drop Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man
Image credit: Legion-Media, Walt Disney Studios

The MCU deliberately canceled Iron Man 4 and gladly dropped Tony Stark in Endgame. What do Marvel executives have against Downey Jr.’s character?


  • Despite the overwhelming success of the Iron Man movies, the fourth installment was never produced.
  • For years, Tony Stark stayed a crossover and cameo character until he was killed off in Avengers: Endgame.
  • For Marvel Studios, Robert Downey Jr. became too expensive, with paychecks of $70M per movie.

The MCU as we know it began with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man back in 2008, and ever since then, he has been the heart and mind of the franchise. Aside from his own movie trilogy, Tony Stark was an essential part of the Avengers team and appeared in many other movies as a secondary character or a cameo. Then, he got killed off.

Have you ever wondered why was Marvel so happy to get rid of its main star?

Marvel Was Not Content with Downey Jr. Since Iron Man 3

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The thing about Robert Downey Jr. and the MCU was that, while they both helped each other (the actor got his fame and money, and the franchise got a jumpstart), his acting became all too expensive over time. Yes, it was simply a matter of money.

For the first Iron Man movie, Downey Jr. got paid just $500k. For the second part, he made a huge jump to $10M. The third installment cost Marvel $70M just for the actor’s part, and another $50M went to him for the original Avengers movie. At that point, it became increasingly obvious that Robert Downey Jr. was way too pricey.

That’s why Iron Man 4 was never released: the idea was up in the air, but Marvel decided that making another movie about Tony Stark was too big of a financial strain for the studio. From that point forth, Iron Man was only appearing in crossovers like Avengers or as a cameo in, say, the new Spider-Man movies.

It was way more cost-efficient than writing him a $100M check for a single solo film.

Will Tony Stark Return After Avengers: Endgame?

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At first glance, he really shouldn’t. Robert Downey Jr. was vocal about being done with the MCU, and Marvel was more than happy with his leave since — once again — it allowed the studio to save a fortune on the actor’s paychecks.

However, things might change in the relatively near future. First of all, the MCU is not feeling so good these days, and Downey Jr.’s return in Secret Wars is presumably planned to reinvigorate the Avengers franchise. Second of all, there were already reports about the actor agreeing to reprise his most iconic role.

But these are all speculations; we’ll have to wait and see whether Downey Jr. agrees to return to the MCU and whether Marvel is ready to toss a hundred million his way.

Should Downey Jr. return to the MCU?