Robert Downey Jr. is hinting that he may retire as Iron Man at the age of 50, just after he completes shooting on The Avengers 2 in 2014. Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios have no intentions of retiring the character of Tony Stark, nor do they plan on "rebooting" the franchise once Robert Downey Jr. steps away from the armor.
Back in April of 2012, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige compared the role of Tony Stark and his Iron Man alter ego to that of James Bond, saying Marvel plans to continue in that same format.
"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. I think the term reboot has got to go. I think it's like after the Star Wars movies nobody likes the idea of prequels, and reboots have turned into the same thing."
With Robert Downey Jr. already planning to leave Iron Man behind for more artistic endeavors, Marvel is most likely planning their next move, and eyeballing there choice for 'who's got next'.
When considering who might assume the role, we have to consider where Robert Downey Jr. was at in his career. He was a recovering drug addict trying to reemerge in Hollywood. After a couple of failed attempts at the box office, 2008's Iron Man served as a true comeback, and sealed his fate as a major player in show business. Will Marvel go after someone needing a similar boost? Or will they go after a newcomer who has yet to break it big? With 2015 a couple of years away, that's a hard one to call.
But here are our five top choices for Tony Stark's replacement.
1Timothy Olyphant (age 44)
Timothy Olyphant is in no need for a comeback, but he has never made his mark on the big screen quite the way he has on television. After several supporting roles in various movies of the early 2000s, the actor proved himself as a major presence playing the sheriff of Deadwood. A few years later, he took that same swagger and cocksureness to the role of Raylan Givens on Justified, which has grown beyond its cult audience to become a bonafide cultural hit. Timothy Olyphant is able to bring the right amount of lovability to a role, while still being a smarmy bastard when he needs to be. And he has the right look. He's our number one pick for Tony Stark. And he's loved by pretty much every man and woman on the planet. Show us someone who doesn't like Timothy Olyphant, and we'll show you a real (explicative).
2Leonardo DiCaprio (age 38)
He looks the most like Tony Stark out of our current crop of high profile actors who might be considered for the role. He looks more like Tony Stark than Robert Downey Jr.. And he, too, has proven himself very capable of playing cocky without becoming too unlikable. While Leonardo DiCaprio is in no need of a hit movie or a comeback, the actor has yet to play a superhero, or become part of the Disney family, which most of his peers have. If he wanted to take part in the genre, there wouldn't be a better role for him. And he's likely Disney's top choice, too. This franchise is his for the taking, but as someone who actively seeks out challenging and artistic films, he might find the role of a playboy billionaire who plays with robots beneath him. Iron Man wants and needs someone like Leonardo DiCaprio, but is the role below his pay grade at this point?
3Jon Hamm (age 42)
Like Timothy Olyphant, Jon Hamm has made a name for himself on TV, starring in the hit drama Mad Men, but he's never taken that Don Drapper swagger to the big screen. The role of Iron Man would serve to bring his gentlemanly demeanor and arrogant attitude to a wider demographic. With slicked back hair and a pencil thin mustache, he would serve to bring a more retro quality to the character, harkening back to Stark's roots as a hero of the 60s. He also looks good swinging a glass of Scotch at his side, and might be one of the few actors able to pull off the alcoholism aspects of Tony Stark in an intelligent, humorous manner that won't weight the character down and scare him away from kids. He has a dad-like quality that will serve the character well. Though, he might be a little too sexy for the role of Iron Man. That could turn fanboys away.
4Colin Farrell (age 36)
Colin Farrell probably has the most in common with Robert Downey Jr. He's no stranger to substance abuse, and has been struggling to make it in Hollywood for years. Despite headlining quite a few mainstream movies, he's never had the hit his talent promises, nor has he exactly become a household name. He needs a big movie like Iron Man at this point in his career, and he's just the right age. He's done his best work in quirky independent crime comedies, and the character of Tony Stark is capable of bringing those same attributes into a superhero movie. Colin Farrell might be an unconventional choice, but Marvel's choices seem to be unconventional most of the time. He'd have to lose his Irish brogue, which is never fun, but the man can pull off a mean moustache, and he's good with a quick quip. He also knows how to rock cocky yet lovable, which is probably the main attribute a casting director will look for when trying to fill the shoes of Tony Stark.
5Norman Reedus (age 44)
This is Marvel thinking way outside the box. Norman Reedus had a large cult following with the film Boondock Saints before becoming everyone's favorite zombie slayer on The Walking Dead. He is beloved by millions of fanboys, as well as moms and kids alike. Taking on Iron Man might push him to the next level. Though, the actor hasn't proven he can do comedy just yet. That might be okay. Maybe we want someone who brings a slightly different take to the character than Robert Downey Jr.. Maybe this Tony Stark is a little more serious. A little less assured of himself. He is more flawed. Norman Reedus has the ability to play to the strengths of the character, while also bringing in certain elements that would stand him apart from the crowd. People are ready to see him take on a bigger role. Do you think this one would serve him well? His on-screen brother Michael Rooker just landed a lead role in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe Norman's next in line...Or then again, maybe Submariner is more his speed.
Other contenders for the role might include James Franco, Keanu Reeves, Paul Walker, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, and Robert Pattinson. Who do you want to see in the role? Did we leave anyone important out?
Iron Man was released May 2nd, 2008 and stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Clark Gregg. The film is directed by Jon Favreau.