There's Still Place for Iron Man in the MCU, But No Place for Robert Downey Jr.

There's Still Place for Iron Man in the MCU, But No Place for Robert Downey Jr.
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Iron Man – once the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – has been gone for four years, and fans have been itching to have him back.

Lucky for them, in the vastness of the multiverse, all things are possible. With the release date for Avengers: Secret Wars looming ever closer and closer, rumors are starting to emerge regarding what classic Marvel characters will make a surprise appearance as a variant.

If Iron Man is destined to make an appearance, the MCU must follow one simple rule: No Robert Downey, Jr.

It seems counterintuitive, considering the veteran actor was the first to breathe life into the franchise with 2008's Iron Man – the movie that kicked off a connected universe and forever changed how studios approached franchises. He was a fan favorite and his death was legitimately emotional for audiences. For 11 years, we saw RDJ's Tony Stark grow as a person – he went from warmonger to egotistical hero to savior of the entire universe, who sacrificed himself and his happy ending so trillions could live.

More than anything, the Infinity Saga is the story of Tony Stark's growth through a universally beloved RDJ portrayal, and that's exactly why he can't come back.

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Downey's Iron Man has an immense level of baggage coming along for the ride. Any version of Tony we see played by RDJ would be immediately compared to the Earth-616 version we saw die in Endgame; any comparison would leave fans disappointed.

There just isn't a way for the next version of Stark to match the original. The next version would either be too flawed or too perfect; the original was so beloved because he was a perfect mix of both. More importantly, we saw his legacy unfold and his character develop.

There is room for a cameo, just as long as this version of Stark is played by a new actor. A new actor for a new Stark would allow him to shine on his own, free of comparisons. He'd be allowed to be perfect or flawed, even evil.

Comparing Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home, it's clear that the rules of the multiverse state that some of the infinite variations of a character will look the same, while others will not.

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Since the introduction of the Illuminati in Multiverse of Madness' Earth-838, Tom Cruise has been fancast as Iron Man – a founding member of the clandestine group in the comics. Cruise was on the short list of original choices for Stark when originally casting the role over a decade ago.

To cast Cruise would amount to fan service, but John Krasinski 's role as Reed Richards of Earth-838 proved that fans don't mind a little fan service when casting.

But whether it's Cruise or somebody else, if a version of Iron Man is set to appear in Secret Wars, it cannot be Robert Downey, Jr. It would only tarnish his perfect legacy.