There’s no doubt that Robert Downey Jr.’s career took off to a very different direction after taking on the role of Tony Stark in the first Iron Man. The talented actor was always praised for his talent, but back before he put on the iron suit, there was a time where his name was a cautionary example of what happens when stars fall. Heck, even Marvel, the company which would revitalize his career, made jokes about him back in the day!

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man

Nick Fury making a joke at RDJ’s expense, which Captain America doesn’t get.

But that all changed once he sobered up, and took on the role of a hero. When it was announced that he had signed on for the role of Tony Stark, it was a widely praised casting decision. Hardcore comic book fans examined his past and believed that he was perfect for the role of the cocky hedonistic billionaire playboy inventor turned superhero. RDJ proved them right once the first Iron Man film came out to great critical reviews and broke box office records. The sequel, Iron Man 2, even more successful than the original, but wasn’t quite as well-regarded. Then RDJ appeared in Marvel’s biggest gamble yet, last year’s megahit, The Avengers. Some outlets are reporting that Downey received a check around the amount of $50 million for his contributions to the role.

Despite the huge amount of success he’s had as Iron Man, he could be getting ready to hang up the boots. Downey recently gave a great interview to GQ magazine about the course of his career, and answered questions about when he’ll say goodbye to the role that revived his career.

“Downey knows that no ball can bounce forever like his has in recent years. “This period of time, this shall pass,” he says. “Fortunately I’ve been around the block enough—I’m not ill-prepared. And I love change. I love it when a lightning bolt hits the genny and you’re down for two hours on the set. Now, this isn’t a lightning strike, this is like the warning of a gathering storm.

When asked what the gathering storm is in this case, he answered by talking about the injury he sustained on the Iron Man 3 set in North Carolina that shut down production for several weeks. He was doing the kind of wire jump he’s done hundreds of times over the past few years, and he blew his ankle out.

“It got me thinking about how big the message from your cosmic sponsor needs to be before you pick it up. How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun? Because, as quiet as it’s kept, I come from a family of very innovative writers and directors and actors and artists, and the circle of friends they were in were the people I heard having pun-offs playing poker at two in the morning, and it was just the most comforting aspect of my childhood. So there’s this kind of legacy of souls from what I consider to be a very particular time in entertainment, and I’m sensing a return to that—it’s what me and the missus are doing next. It’s not unlike: I heard Brady signed on for three more years with New England, and then he’s done being a QB, because he’ll be 40. I’m 47, and I’ll be 50.

Right now I don’t have a contract to do anything, and I did for the last five years.”

Downey does make several good points here. Time stops for no one, not even superheroes. If he’s getting injured doing routine things, then that can’t be good for his body, or the production of any of his projects. I think we’d all rather see a happy, healthy RDJ on screen than an injured, unhappy one. In the same interview he mentioned that at whatever point that he does stop being Iron Man, he’ll probably have go through some crisis since he probably hasn’t fully digested how special the whole process has been and how much he’s enjoyed it.

Robert Downey Jr as Iron ManEven though it is inevitable that RDJ will eventually take his leave, there’s a few different things that need to be considered here. First, will he be signing on for the Avengers 2? If so, will his character survive the conflict? Since Marvel will be left without a man to play Iron Man, it’s conceivable that they could have him killed to preserve his role while they think up some way to bring him back. If they don’t decide to bring him back, then what will they do? Iron Man is still their most successful solo franchise, and they’re not just going to let it end with Downey’s departure. How will they keep it going? Will they use some cheap comic book ploy like reverting the character to a teenager, using a clone, or bringing him back from the dead?

What do you think will happen when Downey does leave Marvel behind? Will the character of Iron Man survive?

Source: Slash Film