I’m curious to see how the below quote gets interpreted by Marvel fans. I’d like to think Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will have Robert Downey Jr. play Tony Stark for as long as he wants. RDJ is one of the primary reasons an Avengers film even exists, as the prospect of such a film was unheard of before Iron Man planted that seed. Despite being a very young-looking 47, one assumes Downey won’t want to be the Iron Avenger forever. Feige has a plan in place when such a day arrives, courtesy of his interview with Devin Faraci of Badass Digest:
“I think Bond is a good example. Let’s put it this way: I hope Downey makes a lot of movies for us as Stark. If and when he doesn’t, and I’m still here making these movies, we don’t take him to Afghanistan and have him wounded again. I think we James Bond it.”
My first reaction: absolutely. These characters can work in a variety of iterations with a variety of performers. I too hope that Downey plays Stark as long as he wants, but the Bond approach is a sound one and if you think it can’t work in the Marvel universe just ask Edward Norton – whose Bruce Banner will now be played by Mark Ruffalo in Avengers.
The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if there isn’t more to Feige’s words though. As Devin points out, RDJ’s contract probably isn’t as long-term as Marvel’s more recent acquisitions. It’s possible Marvel, a notoriously stingy ballplayer, is renegotiating or planning to renegotiate with Downey to extend his tenure as Iron Man beyond a third film. It’s also conceivable (read: a lock) that he’s already signed for Avengers 2. So he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Still, it’s peculiar timing for Feige to put that out there. So the question I want to pose is this: Why is Kevin Feige reminding his franchise star how replaceable he can be on the week of Marvel’s biggest release to date?