Robert-Downey-Jr.-in-Iron-Man-3Following the mammoth success of Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 in the US over the weekend, debuting to huge numbers and becoming the second-highest opening of all time, talk has naturally turned to what comes next in Marvel’s Phase Two and beyond. Most specifically, it regards the status of an Iron Man 4 and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers 2 and beyond.

Robert Downey, Jr. fulfilled his original contract with Marvel with the release of Iron Man 3, leaving him a) in a strong bargaining position as, essentially, the face of the franchise, and b) without any legal obligation to return (hence a)).

Marvel will of course most likely do their utmost to bring Downey, Jr. back to the fold for future movies. Around the globe, he is not only the face of Tony Stark / Iron Man. He essentially is Tony Stark / Iron Man. And for a lot of people, Iron Man is the biggest reason they turn out for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

THR are now reporting that on Monday, Robert Downey, Jr.’s wife and producing partner, Susan Downey, organised a private dinner for RDJ and a little under two-dozen others, including Marvel’s chief man Kevin Feige, Disney’s head Alan Horn, and Iron Man 3’s director Shane Black.

Ostensibly, the dinner was arranged to celebrate the substantial success of the latest blockbuster, which kicks off Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe flawlessly. But it’s also thought that the meal was the starting point for talks about what comes next for Downey, Jr. in the franchise.

Sources close to the deal-making say that Downey, Jr. has entered negotiations for reprising his role in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers 2 as well as that film’s sequel, The Avengers 3. But as of yet, Iron Man 4 hasn’t been a part of the discussions, and recent interviews with Downey, Jr. have highlighted a question mark over whether or not he will indeed return for a fourth standalone movie.

Iron Man 3 is, in my books, a perfect conclusion to the Iron Man trilogy that launched the franchise back in 2008. I would love to see Robert Downey, Jr. reprise the role for Iron Man 4. But at the same time, if he chooses not to, Iron Man 3 would be a perfect way to close out his take on the character in the standalone movies. Just as long as we get to see him return for The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3.

Marvel have previously spoken of their intent to continue with Tony Stark / Iron Man, with or without Robert Downey, Jr. But it’s naturally plain for anyone to see that they would rather do it with him. And thus, he must hold a sizable level of the power in these ongoing talks. More so, at least, than most other actors might. (See, for example, Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard as Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes from Iron Man 2 onwards.)

For now, it remains unknown whether or not Robert Downey, Jr. will be back for Iron Man 4. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed. And if he ultimately decides that he won’t be returning for another standalone film, then hopefully we’ll at least see him back for The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3. Because, no doubt about it, those films are going to be incredible.