Now, the recent announcement by Marvel of an entire wagon-load of awesome Marvel movies, including the long-awaited Black Panther and Captain Marvel solo adventures, and an actual, factual Marvel Civil War, is absolutely, positively a good thing.
I mean, Carol Danvers, for crying out loud. Nothing but awesome comes from that.
The dark cloud hanging over the whole thing though, is this: there's one movie that's been almost as eagerly anticipated as the whole of that newly announced slate put together, but that we're not, considering its absence from that same line-up, going to see anytime soon. The movie? Iron Man 4.
The good news, though, is that we might be about to see something even better...
Robert Downey Jr. Makes an Announcement (That Might Change Everything)
Specifically, he's just revealed that - from the sounds of it - he'll be making at least one more movie as Tony Stark/Iron Man than we previously thought. You can read more about that right here, but the gist of it is that, on top of Captain America: Civil War, and the two movies that'll comprise Avengers: Infinity War, RDJ seems to think he'll have at least one additional Marvel movie in him.
And, well, that got me thinking...
Y'see, on top of RDJ's big/incredibly subtle announcement, this week has also seen another seemingly innocuous, but potentially huge piece of news emerge - the fact that Marvel has seemingly dropped a major release date in July, 2016.
Or, rather, that they may not have dropped it after all - and might, in fact, be planning something pretty massive for it. Now, my initial thinking was that this mystery date in 2016 might, in fact, turn out to be a surprise, extra Civil War movie, seeing as it's set for just two months after Captain America: Civil War, for all sorts of reasons that you can read more about right here. As it turns out, though, that might not be the whole story.
As it turns out, Robert Downey Jr. might just have made sure that it's definitely going to happen - but not in quite the way you'd expect.
Why RDJ and Marvel Might Just Need to Make a Second Civil War Movie
Now, I don't mean that trying to cram the entire Civil War narrative arc into one movie isn't practical (although it'd be one hell of a task for the writers and directors). Instead, when you take a look back at Robert Downey Jr.'s past statements regarding his work with Marvel, and in particular the prospect of Iron Man 4, this might just be something that RDJ is already planning on having happen...
RDJ Doesn't Want to Make Too Many Sequels
Let's head way back to the murky, mysterious netherworld of...last year. Back then, pretty much everyone was absolutely certain that Robert Downey Jr. would not, under pretty much any circumstances short of being literally buried in money, be returning to play Tony Stark in a fourth installment of the Iron Man series. Mainly because RDJ kept saying things like this:
"How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun?"
Meaning that for all intents and purposes, he had no intention of doing another straight sequel to Iron Man.
RDJ Wants to Do Something Different
By March 23rd, 2014, the rumors had largely shifted to there being an Iron Man 4, but without RDJ in it.
And...then RDJ seemed to change his mind, revealing in July that:
"It’s down to Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studios president] and Ike [Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment] and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is, and that’s on us to agree or disagree...When things are going great, there’s a lot of agreement."
Which suggests that not only did he expect the idea to be big, but also for it to be something a little different to what had come before. Otherwise, Iron Man 4 would've been the easiest piece of commissioning Marvel has ever made.
RDJ Doesn't Want to be Tony Stark Forever
The thing is, though, that new-found enthusiasm came with a pretty big set of reservations...
"At what point do I feel I am spending so much time either shooting or promoting these films that I’m not actually able to get off the beachhead and do the kind of other stuff that is good for all of us….I’m not 42, I’m turning 50 and now I’ll have two small kids instead of one grown one…"
Specifically, that at some point soon, he's going to want to hang up his Iron Man helmet, and spend more time with his family.
And, of Course, Iron Man 4 Isn't Happening - But Something Else Is
As RDJ revealed, just a few weeks ago, with a pretty explicit denial that Iron Man 4 was happening, telling David Letterman that:
"There's no plans for an Iron Man 4...There's nothing for Iron Man 4."
The thing is, though, that he then followed that up by revealing that:
"There'll be other stuff...I'm going to do other stuff with Marvel. I'm still going to be involved with Marvel."
Which - combined with the announcement shortly after that RDJ would be appearing in Captain America 3, and then, a little later, that it would be called Captain America: Civil War - completely derailed the Iron Man 4 speculation train.
Put Those Things Together Though...
Take another look at those comments for a second.
"How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun?"
"It’s down to Kevin and Ike and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is."
"At what point do I feel I am spending so much time either shooting or promoting these films that I’m not actually able to get off the beachhead and do the kind of other stuff that is good for all of us."
In retrospect, those all sound an awful lot like conditions for RDJ returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Iron Man. Specifically:
1. That it's not a direct follow up (like, say, a fourth installment of the Iron Man series).
2. That Marvel Studios and Disney come up with something interesting.
3. That it doesn't involve RDJ spending the next two decades filming Marvel movies.
Add in the fact that "there's no plans for an Iron Man 4," but that "there'll be other stuff," and you have the shape of just what to expect from RDJ.
...And What Do You Get?
Now, for a while, we thought we were already seeing that exact project in the form of Captain America: Civil War.
But, with RDJ's suggestion that he'll be making an additional, un-announced Marvel movie, there seems to be something else on the horizon.
And, seeing as RDJ doesn't seem to want to do a straight sequel, requires whatever movie he ends up doing to be something dramatically or intellectually interesting to him, and that it be something that doesn't require him working for Marvel for the next decade, what movie could that possible be? Anything after Avengers: Infinity War surely wouldn't fit, and there are question marks surrounding whether or not RDJ would really play second fiddle to another MCU character in any other film than Cap's Civil War.
The most plausible option, then?
Iron Man: Civil War
Which - were it released in July 2016 - would fulfill all of RDJ's apparent requirements:
1. It's to be the second part of an epic, Civil War-themed storyline, that engulfs the Marvel Cinematic Universe - and not, therefore, a traditional sequel (or Iron Man 4, technically)
2. It's to be something completely different to what we've seen so far, both in terms of plot, potentially (imagine if we saw the Civil War from each heroes' perspective, one in May, the other in July) and most certainly in terms of release windows (two movies in two months would be a huge, but by no means impossible, gamble on Marvel's part).
3. It would allow him to make those nine Marvel movies, and then hang up his helmet after Avengers: Infinity War, with pretty much all of his story told.
Now, maybe it's a long shot - and maybe it'll never happen - but after this last week? It's a whole lot more likely than ever before - and than [Iron Man 4](movie:886190) happening - it would seem.