The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is due in no small part to the successful casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Of course, Marvel Studios has had a great deal of success with its casting in many of its movies and TV series, but the connection between Downey and Stark has been so complete that the comic book Stark has come to resemble Downey’s characterization, which is no small measurement of the actor’s impact on the part. As we look to the future though, Downey’s involvement is hazy, and in a new interview, the actor discusses his age, the impact of Marvel on his career, and which good friend he’d like to put behind the camera for Iron Man 4.
While talking to Deadline on the eve of the release of his new film, The Judge, Downey discussed his hazy future with the Marvel brand, and what future he may have in the Iron Man armor. But first, we start at the end. As the interview wrapped Downey proposed a potential scenario where he would do a fourth Iron Man movie, if his good friend Mel Gibson were allowed to direct it. “Why not?” Downey said. “That movie would be bananas.”
“Bananas” indeed. Downey and Gibson cultivated a friendship on the set of the 1989 film Air America, and when Downey struggled with issues of drug addiction, Gibson was one of the few people that lent him unequivocal support as Downey tried to get his career back on track after several years of rehab. Gibson, as you undoubtedly remember, has needed some rehab himself – image rehab – since a nasty incident several years ago where he went on a drunken tirade that was sexist and anti-Semitic. Although Gibson has had a few high-profile roles, the latest as the villain in The Expendables 3, he has not reclaimed anywhere near the clout he once had as one of Hollywood’s A-listers.
So is it beyond the realm of possibility to think that Marvel might gamble on Gibson? Well, they did gamble on Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn and Iron Man 3‘s Shane Black. Black was Downey’s choice for the director’s chair, and if you think that RDJ doesn’t have the clout to name his director if we said to Marvel that he would only do Iron Man 4 with a specific director, then you’re seriously underestimating the situation. It would at least warrant a serious conversation.
And why not? Gibson is an Academy Award-winning director, and he’s made at least a couple of blockbuster movies as a filmmaker, including Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. That’s not exactly breezy superhero fare, but Gibson’s got more big-budget filmmaking experience than many of the directors that Marvel’s approached. So far as possibilities go, I think it’s at least possible, and if its the deal-breaker for Downey, who is Marvel, wanting another Iron Man 3-like billion dollar payday, to say no.
But also at the forefront of Downey’s mind is his age. Noting the broken ankle he suffered on the set of Iron Man 3, Downey said that his mortality might keep him from suiting up for another Iron Man movie, especially so far as stunt work is concerned. “Looking back, I’m surprised and really embarrassed that some middle aged guy was thinking like that,” said Downey. “And I honestly don’t think like that presently. But I also know that it could happen again, this bit of a hypnosis that would make someone think that way.”
Still, Downey now seems more willing to leave the door open to the possibility of a fourth Iron Man then he might have been last year saying that it’s “all being talked about on a bunch of different levels right now.” Downey did add that when it comes to his faith in the brand, make his Marvel.
“Marvel keeps stepping up its game, and I appreciate the way Kevin Feige and all the creatives there think,” Downey explained. “They are as in the creative wheelhouse as any great studio has been at any point. […] So it becomes a matter of, at what point do I cease to be an asset to what they’re doing, and 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. Each one of those movies is spread over two years and some people fit other things in.”
Downey will appear next in Avengers: Age of Ultron which will be in theaters on May 1, 2015.