Iron Man will die...someday. It ain't going to be during Iron Man 3 or the kickoff of Phase 2 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it's most definitely coming. Below, I explain my prospective why, when, and how the demise of this version of Iron Man will meet his demise.
might be the only man many of us can imagine in the Iron Man suit, but Shellhead isn't the only thing he's got going for him. We all know he's an amazingly talented actor who hits so many notes. The man's Oscar-nominated and as time goes on, he's bound to want to position himself to snatch what is clearly within his grasp, given the right project. To do that, however, he's got to have the time. Having his schedule booked with Iron Man 7 isn't going to let him do that.
More immediately, he's got other commitments in the near future, among them, The Judge and Sherlock Holmes 3. Downey's contract for Iron Man is up after Iron Man 3, so technically there's nothing binding him there. Perhaps the studio will have more to do with this than Downey will. And, let's face it -- Downey is expensive. He raked in $12 million for Iron Man 2 and a whopping $50 million for The Avengers. When studios can pay someone else less for a just-as-popular comic book movie, the will definitely at least consider the option of finding a way to part with the man who plays Stark. How can they do that? You can chalk it up to what our beloved staff writer Will calls "Ned Stark Syndrome". That's when a series or franchise brings in a big-name, well-loved actor, gets the audience well invested, then kills them off without any ill effects because people are already so into it. People are really invested in Iron Man, and through that, the MCU. Downey, Jr. would definitely be missed, but he's not getting any younger, and Iron Man is just too cool to haul out to the storage shed when there is money to be made on the character for years to come.
It could happen in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, though I'm highly doubtful, it won't occur in Guardians of the Galaxy, because again, there is no way Marvel goes on with a second Avengers film without him. So, that pushes us past 2015, when Robert will be less than a year away from 50. Basically, if the're going to retcon the story, and move forward with a new Iron Man, it seems reasonable we'll see our last of Downey, Jr. donning the iconic armor in The Avengers: Infinity War, or even earlier, a prospective fourth Iron Man film. I just can't imagine a 53 year-old Iron Man in 2018. It'll be time for some fresh blood.
Imagine Iron Man much like in The Avengers, doing the ultimate deed to further the forces of good. He does have a Deep Space suit now, so there's the possibility that he goes into space on a suicide mission to bring Thanos to his destruction, making certain he is ultimately defeated and never gets to use the Cosmic Cube or the Infinity Gauntlet we saw in Thor. In other words, he'd see this villain to the gates of hell, open the doors, and follow him through to make sure he stays put.
Another possibility comes in Iron Man's defeat of The Mandarin, where he is so damaged and dependent on his suit that he can't really live without it. He might stick around through Phase 3, but as his body deteriorates he hands his mantle over to some of the heroes that might be featured in Marvel's long-term plans (paging Black Panther).
Regardless, Iron Man has to die at some point, or at least look like he has. Just like many things that Iron Man does, it has to happen for the greater good.
Got opinions on the demise of Iron Man? Let me know in the comments.