After Robert Downey Jr's recent announcement that he "feels he has one more" Iron Man film in him, the world of pop culture has been given new reason (as if they needed any) to speculate about what could happen in a fourth Tony Stark film, if Marvel decides to make it at all. After all, phase four probably has lots to be getting on with, between reforming a new Avengers team, introducing more new characters and continuing the films of many characters set to get their first outing in phase three. However, Marvel surely won't miss the chance to rake in the box office gold that Downey provides as the playboy superhero. The next problem is how to make it a memorable final film for the character, something many feel 2013's Iron Man 3 failed to be. Here are five storylines from across Tony Stark's fifty years in comics that could be perfect for a new Iron Man film in Phase 4!
Crash and Burn
Released in 1994, this six-issue story took Tony way, way out of his comfort zone. After Stark Industries records are stolen and Tony is accused of fraud, he is forced to go on the run. With only a new suit called the modular armor, he is forced to fight a number of friends and foes, including Venom and Hulk, all in order to clear his name. Downey's version of Stark will have just come out of Avengers: Infinity War, and will be on a high after surviving, so putting him in this low position, possibly sending him up against some of the newer Avengers he isn't that familiar with, would be a whole new situation, and could be brilliant.
Interestingly, while Tony didn't create Ultron in the comics, there have been times where his suits of armor have gained sentience. Arguably the best story where this happened was Hypervelocity. In it, Tony found himself chasing a suit of armor which he had backed his memory onto, so it could act as him in any situation. All manner of crazy things happened in this story, and it could be the perfect opportunity to bring back Ultron into the MCU. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, some of the best moments (in my opinion) were the back and forth held by Tony and Ultron. If Ultron came back, but was confined to a single form, then he and Tony could have a truly incredible showdown like they never got to have in the last film. People say that Tony's own worst enemy has always been himself, and Ultron is a twisted version of Stark, so isn't he the perfect villain to end the solo adventures?
The Five Nightmares
You know what one thing all of Tony's previous enemies have had in common? They're older, or in Aldrich Killian's case about the same age maybe. But one infamous member of Iron Man's rogue gallery is Ezekiel Stane, son of Obidiah Stane. In the story "The five Nightmares" Tony is pitted against Ezekiel, who is out for revenge after the death of his father. He's a twisted genius, who is younger and smarter than Tony. With Downey getting older, it could be the perfect time in his last film for Stark to really get it drilled into his head that he is too old for this hero gig anymore. That's the perfect way to end it all, by throwing back to his first villain, twelve years ago by the time phase four starts, and seeing how much everything about the world has changed by then, and it can be a beautiul culmination to Tony's story, letting him finally put the suits aside once and for all.
Many fans prefer this story over all other Iron Man stories. Released in 1987, this story used Tony Stark's worst fear against him. The fear that somebody else would get their hands on the Iron Man designs. When those designs are stolen and leaked onto the black market, Tony sets out to retrieve them at absolutely any cost. Seeing a hero like Tony, who will have previously stood against other heroes to side with the government in Captain America: Civil War, go against the government and fellow heroes to get to those plans at any cost is what makes a great film. It also seems like seeing the dangers these designs can lead to with his own eyes would finally make Tony realise that he has to destroy all of the suits, all of the designs, and never make any again, because they're just too dangerous. That's a poetic ending in it's own right, especially after he already saw the consequences of his inventions in Age of Ultron.
World's Most Wanted
You know what's almost as good (but not quite as good) as getting to have Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Getting to have Norman Osborn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Not only can we see a great battle between Osborn and Peter Parker (which has got to happen at some point), but we can also see Osborn as potentially the next Thanos of the MCU! Imagine Osborn is introduced as a philanthropist in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and then does great deeds during the Infinity War films, in that case he could be highly regarded across the world in the wake of those films. Now things get real: He could go after Stark because, after Civil War and all, Tony would be the figurehead of the superhero community in a political sense.
Osborn discredits Tony, giving the government no choice but to put out a warrant for his arrest. Stark, knowing Osborn orchestrated this, sets off around the world, destroying every cache of information about his suits, as well as the suits themselves, and in the end it isn't enough, because Osborn gets his hands on one set. Stark is left with the giant, clunky Mark 1 suit, and has to take Osborn and the much newer suit down in it. He defeats him but Osborn escapes. This film, right at the start of phase four, can allow Osborn to be shown as more than a Spider-Man villain, and can start setting him up for a huge storyline like Dark Reign or Siege.
There it is folks! I think any of these stories could be a wonderful last outing for Downey as the iconic Tony Stark, and would provide that sprinkling of finality we all need from Iron Man 4 in the same way we need it from Wolverine 3. Until it's announced that the film is actually happening though, I think I'll try to calm myself down.
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