Will Iron Man 3 be Robert Downey Jr.’s last Iron Man film or will he be involved in Iron Man 4? With Iron Man 3 heading to U.S. theaters this Friday, what fans really want to know is whether Marvel will make Iron Man 4. Check out what we know so far about whether the film will be made and if the actor will even be involved.

iron man 4 small image maskRobert Downey Jr. and crew have been making their rounds these last few weeks, doing press junkets, and each interview gives us a bit more information as to whether Iron Man 4 is in the works. The real question is: Will Robert Downey Jr. even be in Iron Man 4?

Iron Man 4 has been the topic for many interviews with Robert Downey Jr., and in one he confirms that his contract with Marvel ends once press is done on Iron Man 3. Marvel is well-known for signing actors to very long-term contracts, which often include eight films or more. Samuel Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel, which has included two previous Iron Man films.

You may notice that Jackson wasn’t a major part of a few of those films, but he appeared in them nonetheless. This is also true with Robert Downey Jr., as he has appeared in multiple Marvel films, even if he just showed up in an after-credits scene, such as in The Incredible Hulk (Ed Norton’s Hulk film).

During a recent interview, Robert sat down to discuss his future with Marvel and said that hurting his ankle definitely got him thinking. He went on to say, “It got me thinking about how big the message from your cosmic sponsor needs to be before you pick it up. How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun?” He makes a good point. How many times can he repeat his success and is it even appealing to him financially (or artistically) now that he took in a reported $50 million from The Avengers?

In an interview with THR, Robert Downey Jr. gave fans somewhat of a timeframe for what he’s got in mind for his future.:

“As quiet as it’s kept, I come from a family of very innovative writers and directors and actors and artists, and the circle of friends they were in were the people I heard having pun-offs playing poker at two in the morning, and it was just the most comforting aspect of my childhood. So there’s this kind of legacy of souls from what I consider to be a very particular time in entertainment, and I’m sensing a return to that, it’s what me and the missus are doing next. I heard Brady (Tom Brady, NFL Patriots) signed on for three more years with New England, and then he’s done being a quarterback, because he’ll be 40. I’m 47, and [three more years] I’ll be 50.”

He was later asked if he planned on stopping superhero films at 50 and he said, “I don’t know. Right now I don’t have a contract to do anything, and I did for the last five years.” Iron Man 4′s rumored release date of 2016 would be within his three-year period mentioned, but there are no facts pointing to that date from the studio or the actors.

One option being brought up recently is, could Marvel actually replace Robert Downey Jr.? Sure, it seems impossible right now, but as he mentioned previously, he’s nearing 50 and Marvel isn’t going to want to let go of the Iron Man franchise. With Iron Man 3 tracking for a $160 million dollar opening weekend, we imagine it’s difficult for the studios to let go of a money-maker like this, even if it means replacing the irreplaceable. Also interesting for Marvel/Disney is that Iron Man 3 is already beating The Avengers with $195.3 million at the international box office. The film will easily surpass the billion dollar mark.

iron man 3 kevin feigeMarvel’s President, Kevin Feige, did tell Huffington Post that it is, “certainly our plan to continue to have Robert Downey in the persona of Tony Stark for many, many years to come.” This seems to point to Marvel intending to push for Robert Downey Jr. to continue making Iron Man films, but what it really comes down to is whether Robert wants to continue playing Tony Stark.

Feige went on to say that he felt as though Tony Stark could be a lot like James Bond, where one actor (Sean Connery) is always thought of as the original, but that the public would grow to accept different actors playing the role as time moves on.

Marvel’s president further explained that, “It will take a while to fill any shoes, whether it’s filmmaker shoes or writer shoes or certainly actor shoes. I think Tony Stark is an interesting enough and rich enough character that he can persevere.”

Downey seems as though he’s in a position where he has to simply make a decision as to whether he should continue being locked into contracts with Marvel, or if he should move on to making some more artistic films, which he feels are better suited to his past and hopefully his future. Although, we doubt he regrets becoming Iron Man, as it’s netted him a small fortune and completely reinvigorated his entire career, but alas we will most likely see him again as Iron Man when Avengers 2 hits theaters in 2015 despite not yet having a new contract, something he says his lawyers and agents are “having a ball with right now.”

iron man 4 wide image

Another concern about Iron Man 4 is that even his co-stars, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle have said in recent Iron Man 3 press interviews that there won’t be another solo Iron Man film. Now, they aren’t the end all to discussions, but they definitely have their ear to the ground concerning the franchise as it’s much more important to their careers as to whether Iron Man 4 is made, than it would be for Robert Downey Jr.’s career.

What it essentially comes down to is if Robert Downey Jr. wants to continue being part of the “Marvel Machine.” He is, afterall, the man who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Chaplin, and as he stated, comes from a family and group of friends which are very artistic, and staying on the Iron Man toy-ride may not be his goal for the future. Meanwhile, Iron Man 3 is getting great reviews, being called “Iron Man at his best,” so who knows how the success of Iron Man 3 will affect Downey’s decision for Iron Man 4.

For now, we look forward to seeing Downey in Iron Man 3, which is hitting theaters this Friday. We imagine if Robert Downey Jr. does indeed decide to put the suit back on for Iron Man 4, he’ll be the first one to let us know.