Robert Downey Jr says Playing Iron Man Wore Off

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In an interview conducted at the 2024 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Downey discussed how it was great to have been associated with Iron Man for the eleven years that he played the character, but now the heights of being connected to Tony Stark have lowered. Downey stated, “I will never be as cool as Tony Stark, but it was so great to be associated with someone like that for a while, and then it wore off.”

At the 2024 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the actor received the Maltin Modern Master Award. Downey was presented with the prestigious award by his fellow Oppenheimer cast member Cilian Murphy. Previous recipients of the award include Denzel Washington, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron and Cate Blanchett. The awards season glory is not over yet for Downey and Murphy as the two are considered the front-runners for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man.

Downey’s eleven-year tenure as Iron Man/Tony Stark began in 2008’s Iron Man and ended with the character’s death in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan discussed how Downey being cast as Iron Man is one of the most important casting decisions in movie history. Nolan stated, “I’ve always wanted to work with him. I’ve always seen that in his work. And he has such charisma as Tony Stark. Him playing Iron Man is one of the most consequential casting decisions that’s ever been made in the history of the movie business. I wanted to give him the opportunity to lose himself in a part, lose himself in another human being the way great actors love him.”

The actor’s revelation complicates the possibility of his potential return as Iron Man for a new MCU movie. However, a previous report about the original Avengers surfaced last year, suggesting that Marvel Studios was contemplating the return of all the MCU’s original Avengers for another film — including Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson’s Iron Man and Black Widow, respectively.

Tony Stark’s possible return could unfold as an AI guiding Riri Williams in Ironheart or Armor Wars. A multiverse variant of the character could emerge in Avengers: Secret Wars. There’s also speculation that Tom Cruise could portray the Superior Iron Man variant he was previously rumored for.

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