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Kevin Feige Says Iron Man Can Live On Without Robert Downey Jr. & Continue Like James Bond Or Batman With New Actors

by Edward Davis
May 8, 2013 3:06 PM
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Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr.

Very interesting. In light of last night’s potential negotiations impasse at Marvel Studios, are telling comments that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Big Kahuna (Marvel Head Kevin Feige) made to Entertainment Weekly in this past weekend’s cover story. In case you missed the brouhaha yesterday evening, it goes like this: Marvel is notoriously cheap with their salary offers to actors. This is how the company has always operated since they jumped into the feature film game in 2008 with the first “Iron Man.” But “The Avengers” was a billion dollar hit, “Iron Man 3” will soon be a billion dollar hit and the Marvel casts are still being paid lowball figures. With deals not in place for the upcoming 2015 tentpole, “The Avengers 2,” this could prove to be problematic for Marvel. The Avengers want to get paid.

Late last week, everyone was consumed with EW’s small, but new details on Marvel’s Phase 2 and 3 plans; films that include, “Ant-Man” (which will start casting in earnest at the end of the year) and “Guardians Of the Galaxy” (Marvel’s first foray into the galactic-sized outer space/science fiction realm). But tucked away at the end of the article are some pretty eye-opening comments about the future of the “Iron Man” franchise and beyond.

The crux of the negotiations argument is that Robert Downey Jr. is their flagship star, and he’s still comparatively under-compensated (though he was paid $50 million for “The Avengers,” the four films he has appeared in for Marvel have grossed $3.4 billion dollars together). This will be a big sticking point for Marvel who clearly thinks they are probably paying him enough. Anyhow, when asked about the future films starring Tony Stark, Kevin Feige says Marvel can live on without Robert Downey Jr.

“I believe there will be a fourth ‘Iron Man’ and a fifth, sixth and a 10th and a 20th,” he told EW. “I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond, Batman, or for that matter, Spider-Man.”

Could he actually be much more like Dirty Harry or Indiana Jones? Franchise heroes actually only played by one actor so far? Gwyneth Paltrow seems to think so. “Personally I think it would be very hard for someone to step into Iron Man because it is so Robert,” she said. “You’ve got pathos, you’ve got humor, you’ve got a facility with language and improvisation and an incredible pain underneath it all. It’s difficult to replicate that.”

Downey’s take on it all? He knows he’ll have to let go and can’t be Iron Man forever. “I wasn’t involved in the planning of Marvel’s phases, and I’m sure they don’t end with me,” he admitted. “Probably one of my finest days of stewardship would be discussing the matter with whoever is cast to carry the torch. That’s what life is about.”

Can Tony Stark exist on the big screen without RDJ or vice versa? Let us know below.

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  • Karim | January 4, 2014 12:08 AMReply

    I am fully aware of how controversial my comments are going to sound but I believe Iron Man can survive without RDJ. Before you fire up your cannons at me, let me explain: the idea behind IM3 was that it was supposed to be dark. They completely butchered that and might as well have killed Kingsley for playing the Mandarin as they did. That's just an unforgivable sin, for once I would like to see Iron Man taken to a dark places. Thor 2 and C.A 2 both look awesome on account of the noire nature of the storytelling. The one thing that lies outside the reach of Mr RDJ is to get dark, the only dark roles I've seen him in were in Zodiac and US Marshals. Still waiting for a true dark side to Iron Man to be revealed. It's all a matter of getting the right actor. My personal candidate would be Ioan Gruffudd. If you see him as the dark, dangerous yet somehow charismatic Lancelot in King Arthur with Clive Owen, you will understand exactly what I mean.

  • Barcrow | July 30, 2013 9:22 PMReply

    I'm sorry but Iron Man would be better served at this point with a new Stark. I collected the books in the 70'--90s and I never remembered Stark as a constant peter parker-like quipster and Downey plays him (or is written...I also don't remember him being an authority on all matters science). I like Downey..but have really had enough of him . Now that he has his real bank of cash maybe he can start doing smaller offbeat roles again.

  • Chris Evans | June 4, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    Iron Man can NOT live on without Robert Downey Jr. He IS Tony Stark.

    Enough said.

  • Mayra | May 20, 2013 12:34 AMReply

    Well goodbye Iron Man #4 #5 #10 #20 because I'm not watching another Iron Man movie that does not feature Mr. Robert Downey Jr, he MADE the character come to life and I just can't simply see anyone else with the iron man suit!!!

  • jrsl76 | May 13, 2013 2:19 AMReply

    The problem is that Marvel Studios is notoriously stingy and cheap. Robert Downey pulls down big money and now that they have done The Avengers and are renegotiating, all the stars, rightfully so, feel they deserve more money. Marvel doesn't want to play ball and it's a difficult negotiation when they do. RDJ is the one real actor with power in this scenario and he used it to the advantage of the other actors during Avengers. Marvel is now looking to regain as much of the power in regards to their actors as possible. That's what this is about.

    Kevin Feige seems like a hard working guy, but they need to treat their casts and crews well. The films all do well. Share the wealth.

  • Tina | May 13, 2013 4:28 PM

    Yes I agree but, I think that the other actors did a nice job on the movie as well and desirve just a bit more than what they make. They did an amazing movie together and thats all they get, in my opinion the actors are what actually make the movie work, not the writters. Just look at all the improve they do. But Robert diserves what he sees fitting, he is getting old after all and he claims its hard for him to do all this stunt action.

  • thunderhead68 | May 12, 2013 3:42 PMReply

    SADLY it seems marvel is about to go down the same path as they did when they mistreated or ignored their artists and writers leading them to bankruptcy in their hubris.

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 4:25 PM

    Yes I agree, I just hope they learn to treat them better and not choose a casting role too hard for them to follow in the futer. Its rediculus in my opinion. But I have been doing reserch the past week and I have over 5 pages of info on it and reading it over, it seams everyone thinks Marvel wont make it through without him. But also all the signs lead to negitive feelings about him being able to be in the movie. I still refuse to belive that he wont be in it, considering im a die hard Iron Man fan.

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 1:36 PMReply

    You guys dont understand. Let me explane. Downey has made Tony his and you just cant replace that. They both are a little spazy and have a big ego or, Textbook narcissism or what ever. I just think that if they really decide to replace Robert it wont ever be the same. You cant James Bond Iron Man it just doesnt work. I mean look at the Tony Stark comic version then go look at Robert. THEY LOOK JUST ALIKE! Idiots like Kevin Feige just dont understand the reality that Robert has made Iron Man his. Just like Tony said in Iron Man 2, "The suit and I are one," its the same rule for the actor and the character. Robert and Tony are one. Sure I would understand that if in a few years when Robert is long gone from the business that they might remake or add on to the series but... to replace him in this day and age is just suicide for Marvel and it just cant be done. To me Tony is the lead role in the Avengers or just the super hero buisness. Sure he doesnt have any powers or super hero capabilitys but... he shows that if you really want to protect something, then its possible, super powers or not. Trust me I could go on all day why Marvel doesnt have the right to replace Robert yet. Just let me asure you, the fans like me (The die hard Iron Man fan girls, boys included) will refuse to see the movie with a diffrent person playing the lead role. I can guarentee that much. GOOD LUCK GETTING YOUR "HARD EARNED" MONEY WITH A DUMB REPLACEMENT LIKE COLON FARELL! And have a wonderfull day Marvel.

  • Hana B | May 12, 2013 1:20 AMReply

    but if they do replace RDJ, i will deffs NOT watch it! it would just NOT be the same without RDJ!!!

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 2:45 PM


  • Kelly P | May 12, 2013 1:24 AM

    Neither will I. There's no point to it. Marvel can kiss my a$$ if they're too cheap to hire Downey again. The box office won't be anywhere near what it is now without him.

  • Kelly P | May 12, 2013 1:10 AMReply

    Not a chance. Downey IS Tony Stark. Sorry; the charisma he brings to the character is what makes him likeable. Tony Stark is an arrogant a-hole, but at least Downey makes him a LIKEABLE a-hole that people really have taken to. Like mentioned above, it's like trying to replace Harrison Ford as Indiana Or Dirty Harry. Downey's personality is what totally sells this character--he's the perfect amount of charm and snark that another actor wouldn't possess or be able to pull off convincingly. Everything about him, from the character, to the incomperable way he sells the movie in press junkets and various interviews, is pure genius. He genuinely has fun when he's doing promotional tours and it shows. People identify Tony Stark with Downey. Tony Stark isn't James Bond--you can't just thr0w anyone in that character and make it work. It sucks that Marvel feels that they can. If/when Downey stops being Tony Stark, they should just kill off the character.

  • Natalie | May 11, 2013 1:44 PMReply

    AHAHAHA!!! yeah right

  • Ed | May 9, 2013 12:49 PMReply

    Nobody will want to play Tony Stark after RDJ, u kiddin' me? it is suicide, nobody has the charisma; whoever who will try will have the shadow of RDJ behind him.

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 2:43 PM

    Actually Colin Farell wants to, but he would do a horrible job in my opinion.

  • Jules | May 9, 2013 1:29 AMReply

    They already made the Tony Stark character less interesting in IM3, which was more like a character reduced action movie than an Iron Man movie. The first and even the second had great and interesting character scenes. Ultimately anybody can be replaced - nobody is talking about Edward Norton anymore, and Mark Ruffalo faced huge resentment in the beginning - but with RDJ they loose not only a very charismatic actor, but also a hell of a promoting genius. One of the reasons fans like him is because he has a unique way of connecting with the fan base. He loves going out there and meet people and people feel that.

  • berk | May 8, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    Marvel is smart to treat these movie characters like they do in the comics. Every few years a new creative team of artists and writers take over the book and give it a revamp; Iron Man gets a new armor, Tony has a slight change in facial hair and attitude, and old villains are made new. They keep everything that other artists and writers have created in the past and move forward, just like James Bond.

    The problem lies with something like the new Spider-Man movies where it is a full reboot from the start with another origin story, and reintroducing characters the audience already knows.

  • Steph | May 8, 2013 10:39 PMReply

    To me if they don't stay true to the story and characters they have started for Iron man Robert Gwyneth and Cheadle the films won't work. The reason they are successful aren't just because of Robert(he's the biggest part) but of the way he plays off Pepper and Rhodey. Fans are invested in these characters and want to see what's next. They care about them and what happens. That's the special sauce as Robert put it in an iinterview and he is right. Fans love the characters and the actors that made them.

  • Brad | May 9, 2013 8:41 AM

    Cheadle while an infinitely awesome actor was not the first Rhodey, that was Terrence Howard.

  • nechoplex | May 8, 2013 10:09 PMReply

    I think the best and perhaps only acceptable way of making RDJ exit the Iron Man franchise would be to kill off Tony Stark and have some other/new character take on the role of Iron Man. Similar to what Nolan did with The Dark Knight Rises. Otherwise, I feel bad for whoever is hired to play Tony Stark 2.0

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 2:30 PM

    I almost agree. I think that if Robert stops, the character should stop. No one can take on the Iron Man suit like he did. No one could make a perfect suit like he could in the movies so it doesnt make sense to copy Batman or whatever. I think if they wanted to, they could pull off a remake like they did with Spider Man and just make a diffrent tell of the story, but just replacing him in a time like this wont work, Marvel will screw themself if they did.

  • Kelly P | May 12, 2013 1:12 AM

    I concur.

  • Chris138 | May 8, 2013 6:59 PMReply

    That comment Kevin Feige made of there being up to 20 Iron Man movies made is one of the reasons why I can't stand him or the way Marvel is planning their movies. I realize that all Hollywood studios, at the end of the day, just want to make money off of these big tentpole releases, but few are quite as blatantly obvious about their greed as Marvel. I love the first Iron Man film and Thor was fun since it knew how ridiculous it all was, but I'm definitely feeling superhero fatigue at the moment. And there's only going to be more... and more. And more. And then some more after that.

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 2:37 PM

    Ya thats true but the thing with the 20 movies just... ugh. They just suck the character dry if they do that, I mean look at James Bond. When they make another movie, people just go UGH REALLY? DO THEY EVER STOP?! Even if they turn out good. With Iron Man, at the moment with just three movies is a good amount! I love Iron Man but Tonys story needs to end some time dont you think? I mean at this rate he is almost 50 in the movies, he will be 80 by the time they make that many, its rediculus. Of course theres still a few things I want to know so a fourth would be nice but thats where we draw the line. It neests to stop after that.

  • Kelly P | May 12, 2013 1:18 AM

    Same here. When they start making a second and even third trilogy, time to hang it up. And who cares about taking your kid to see an Iron Man movie 20 years from now? By then, they'll come up with a different franchise to suck dry. There actually CAN be too much of a good thing.

  • Daniel | May 9, 2013 3:07 AM

    Are you guys nuts? Would you have complained if Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had said the same thing circa "You Only Live Twice"? There's nothing wrong with making this series of movies into a cultural institution. Flash forward 20 years; wouldn't you like to bond with your kids by taking them to see an "Iron Man" movie that they're interested in seeing because it appeals to their generation - "This is MY Iron Man!" - than out of a sense of duty to their parents, who want them to watch some 'old fogey movie'? Bond has been reinvented for this generation and you can bet your ass he'll be reinvented for the next, as will your precious Dark Knight; why not Iron man? Christ on a crutch; it's popcorn entertainment, not great art. Why the hell shouldn't the Iron Man movies continue on indefinitely?

  • Glass | May 8, 2013 7:43 PM

    Totally agree! Feige sounds like a moron when he says things like this. From the jump, Bond was always just an episodic character with the movie having no real relationship to one another. It's a different time, and even the Bond franchise has thrown out that model. I get WHY he's saying it (if you can't get RDJ back, you can't get him back - but you still have a shitton of movies with Iron Man planned), but this is where I completely break from the Marvel way of doing things. The Dark Knight trilogy is seriously as good as it gets, when it comes to this game.

  • Mike | May 8, 2013 6:29 PMReply

    The only other person I could imagine replacing RDJ is Sam Rockwell, but he was in Iron Man 2.

  • DERP | May 8, 2013 6:21 PMReply

    Iron Man is a suit. It could be warn by anyone. You don't have to replace the actor behind Tony Stark, you can also put the suit on another character and forget about Tony Stark.

  • Ryan | May 9, 2013 8:58 PM

    Dude, Iron man is a suit yes, but the actor is what makes the suit alive, and gives it personality. All in all, they cannot replace Tony Stark otherwise it is not considered Iron Man.

  • DERP | May 8, 2013 6:22 PM

    *worn (DERP)

  • "Insert Name Here" | May 8, 2013 5:50 PMReply

    Even if they find a replacement there will be no way he can top Downey Jr. He's right up there with Bale, Jackman, Stewart and Ledger among the few perfectly cast comic book roles. Whoever replaces him will be in Downey's shadow. Same problem goes for the joker.

  • Ted | May 8, 2013 5:22 PMReply

    I'm not convinced. Iron Man, as a character distinct from Downey, is not part of the public's cultural knowledge. Everybody knows Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Wolverine. But I don't think Iron Man is know in the same way. Most people were introduced to the mythology of Iron Man as Iron Man as played by Downey. We tend to be attached to our understandings of certain characters and Downey has really defined the character in the broader public consciousness. I think it would be hard for Marvel to just replace him.

  • elias | May 8, 2013 5:17 PMReply

    Robert Downey made the perfect IronMan, Nolan and Bale did the perfect Batman... Unlike the Batman films where Nolan's where way better than Barton's (fanboys can have their opinions), it will be hard to top the ones with Downey (that is, it will be hard to get a better lead) cause Downey is the Perfect IronMan and the main reason the films resonate so much..!! Having said that, studios can make other IronMan films without Downey, but just like Batman, there should be quite some time in between, and the later films would have to go by another name (just like Batman became Dark Knight)

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 2:40 PM

    True I think remakes in the future would be good and they could go with names like Iron Warrior of somtin lol. But doing that now is a horrible idea. I think Roberts kid should play Iron Man in the future.

  • SJP | May 9, 2013 5:14 AM

    Absolute codwash. The Batman films DID NOT go by 'another name' when they were rebooted. The first Batman in Nolan's trilogy is called BATMAN BEGINS. Sounds very similar to BATMAN RETURNS doesn't it? No 'change to the Dark Knight'. When will these band wagon jumpers realise The Dark Knight wasn't the first in that series.

  • jasmine | May 8, 2013 4:14 PMReply

    Sure, just slap the suit on Brendan Fraser. Awkkkkkkkkkkkkwarddddddddddddddd!

  • kitcon | May 8, 2013 3:47 PMReply

    Inevitable even without the salary issues. A younger, more athletic Tony Stark can be introduced via Avengers 3. A decent actor w/ a good script & director will still make $$$$

  • Tina | May 12, 2013 2:41 PM

    Yeahhh.... no way dude

  • Kelly P | May 12, 2013 1:21 AM


  • Victor D | May 8, 2013 3:30 PMReply

    Like Adam West, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Michael Keaton, etc... any actor can be replaced and the franchise continue on.

  • No | May 8, 2013 3:29 PMReply

    How about Jake Gyllenhaal Iron Man? He's the closest one to being Downey-esque.

  • Paul | May 8, 2013 3:40 PM

    Shut it, Jake's agent. .../s

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