The Marvel Cinematic Universe has one big problem and there’s no way for it to really overcome it; the passage of time. Unlike comic books, where characters can be as young or old as we want them to be, the actors that are playing our beloved costume heroes are getting older and will eventually want to move on. The problem is most of the casting for super heroes these days is frighteningly good, and we have to wonder if anyone else could play this role. This has been looming over the Marvel movies for a few years now, and the end is only getting closer as we watch people like Chris Evans add one more movie to their contract for Avengers 4. Robert Downey Jr. had to do the same and in an interview with News.com.au he talked about why he keeps returning to the role. (Hint: it’s not the million of dollars, though I’m sure that helps)
It’s this cyclical thing. I could have said when the first Avengers came out: ‘It’s never going to get any better than that. Everybody stop.’ But to me it’s always about people and opportunities, like the Russos, who I adore.
For Downey Jr. it comes down to engagement and interesting stories. In the case of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 it sounds like the Russo brothers being involved played a big part for him. He also knows that there will come a time when he’ll need to “hang up his jersey” when the time is right.
“Everyone says to me it’s like a glove that fits so well. I have to start over every time but I am starting over with a pretty solid base. I just never want to blow it for the last six or seven (MCU movies) I have done by dropping the ball because I decided to go do it one more time. I just want to hang up my jersey before it’s embarrassing.”
The thing that brought Downey Jr. to Spider-Man: Homecoming was the amount of involvement they let him have in the writers room and being impressed with what director Jon Watts did with the low budget indie Cop Car.
I felt like we were literally back in the writer’s room on the first Iron Man. So there was a real sense of a homecoming toward this — not experimental, because there is so much more data now and the process is so much more streamlined — but I didn’t feel like I was being asked to just fit in somewhere. They wanted us to bring our own little thing.
There was also the fact that he would get to hang out with Jon Favreau. Favreau took a chance on Downey Jr. back in 2008 with the original Iron Man and directed the first two movies. He has also played the role of Happy Hogan but hasn’t had a real chance to develop the character while just being another man on set instead of running it.
“Jon and I have been hanging out lately,” says Downey. “The big thrill for me is that he’s in this and I am excited because I just get to watch him as an actor. With the exception of Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder, it’s really hard to be directing a movie and give a great, even small performance. He’s always giving himself a bit to do but this time it’s just Jon Favreau, original gangster and day player on fire. It gave me a whole new respect for how I originally remember him.”
The people who play these characters are going to move on one way or another eventually and we need to accept it. For now we can be rest assured that as long as Marvel keeps making good movies and Downey Jr. is interested and engaged in the project (along with a huge check) we aren’t losing Tony Stark just yet.
Summary: Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), Peter Parker attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts, stars Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Donald Glover, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, and Michael Keaton. Swing on down to your local theater and check it out on July 7th.