After a few years of being fairly non-committal on the issue of another sequel, Iron Man star Robert Downey, Jr. was quoted yesterday as saying he thought he had one more in him.
That, of course, set off speculation across the Internet. Downey's acclaimed portrayal of Iron Man has not only been the cornerstone of the fan-favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe, but every movie in which he's appeared has been a massive success, and since the events of Marvel's The Avengers, any movie in which he had a role made over $1 billion worldwide.
That sets up some mighty high expectations for Captain America: Civil War, which is set to open to some absolutely bonkers box office numbers next week, but also means that to justify a fourth Iron Man solo film, they'd have to pick just the right story.
So, of course, we've helpfully picked out a few candidates.
Whenever there's a discussion about what the next big Iron Man story should be, Armor Wars is the storyline that everything else is judged by in the comics -- and the most-requested one in the movies.
The downside to doing Armor Wars in the films at this point is that frankly we've seen a lot of its best ideas played with in other stories. Battling a doppelganger Iron Man was done in the first movie, and battling an army of doppelganger Iron Men was done in Avengers: Age of Ultron, while the idea of setting up a conflict between Tony Stark and the government over who can use his technology was done in Iron Man 2.
(And there's that whole fighting-the-Avengers thing that's coming up in a week or so.)
So why would you want to adapt Armor Wars? Because it's generally considered to be one of the best Iron Man stories ever written, and if you're going to go out on a high note, why not do it by tackling what's generally considered the standard-bearer for the character?prevnext
DEMON IN A BOTTLE/DELIVERANCE
If Armor Wars is the ultimate Iron Man story (and by that we mean the greatest or most notable Iron Man story, not the Ultimate Iron Man story; Ultimate Iron Man wasn't every good), then Demon in a Bottle is that for Tony Stark.
And, again, Tony's drinking has been peppered through the franchise, with Iron Man 2 even taking a little bit of a hard look at whether it was a problem or not. For the most part, though, Marvel has elected to keep the franchise fairly family-oriented and show Tony's obsessive, addictive personality primarily in the form of his work and his technology, rather than through substance abuse.
Again, though, if we're to believe that Robert Downey, Jr. thinks he has one more Iron Man story in him, and it's actually going to be the last (or at least the last solo film), it has to be tempting to approach one of the best-known stories in the character's canon -- and one that informed so much of how he's been depicted on page and screen since.prevnext
CRASH & BURN/HYPERVELOCITY
These two somewhat less-remembered Iron Man stories were strong -- but Hypervelocity, which would be visually stunning, is a bit on the shallow side whereas Crash & Burn has a lot of potential to drive a great story but could be a bit dull.
In "Crash & Burn," Tony Stark's standing in the corporate and international community could be called into question as rogue elements inside his own company start to do questionable things. Yeah, there were elements of that in the first Iron Man, but that was really just one guy who was easily outed. To have a more thorough infiltration, especially in the wake of the Hydra infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the feeling in Civil War that superheroes are a potential threat...well, there's some really fertile ground there.
Meanwhile, the Hypervelocity storyline involves Tony partially automating the suit's functions, so that if he was injured it would keep functioning on its own to beat the bad guys, save the day, and keep Tony alive. In a high-octane story, Tony is rendered unconscious and villains convince the government that the suit has gone rogue, making him a target for everyone. The suit has to essentially keep moving, or Tony will be killed.
That second idea isn't ideal for a movie, because it would render the point of having Robert Downey, Jr. kind of moot to have him unconscious for the whole thing. But for an extended third-act action scene? It could be really kickass and very different from anything Marvel has done yet.prevnext
WORLD'S MOST WANTED/IRON MAN, DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
With access to the Spider-Man pantheon of characters, it wouldn't be shocking to see Norman Osborn join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the head of a rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D.
That could put the superhero community in general back on its heels, building on the instability from Civil War.
It could also put Tony through a wringer because, as a supporter of the government's actions during the Civil War, what happens as Osborn rises to power and vilifies the heroes is kind of a Frankenstein of his own making.
Following that up -- or ending the film -- with Tony taking on the role of director of S.H.I.E.L.D. could be a great way to wrap up his last solo movie. I've felt for a while like it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury exit the franchise following the events of Infinity War -- they keep talking about those films as the "culmination" of everything up to this point, and he was the start of it all in a lot of ways -- but to give Tony a similar role would allow Downey to maintain his presence in the Marvel U while cutting back the action demands on his body and the time demands on his schedule.prevnext
The storyline that brought closure to the controversial events of Civil War and brought Tony closer to his Avengers co-founders than he had been in some time, Stark Disassembled seems a natural progression not only in the process of deconstructing and rebuilding Stark in the Iron Man films, but in that it would be a direct sequel to Civil War.
Of course, chunks of it are only really relevant to the comics, not the cinematic universe (the clone Thor, for instance, is unlikely to make an appearance in Civil War). So they might have to fill out with elements of something else, or an original story.prev