After a "creatively satisfying" 11-year run as the flagship superhero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Robert Downey Jr. says he's "done all [he] could" with the character of Iron Man. The 55-year-old actor led the MCU-launching Iron Man in 2008 and starred in 10 Marvel Studios movies through 2019, culminating with Tony Stark's heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. As Marvel moves into another phase with new superheroes like Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) in Ironheart — a genius inventor who creates the most advanced suit of armor since Iron Man's — Downey reflects on his journey from Iron Man to Endgame:
"Playing Tony/Iron Man was hard and I dug deep," Downey told the Hindustan Times. "I had an incredible 10-year run that was creatively satisfying."
Asked if he had difficulty stepping out of the role after more than a decade as Tony Stark, Downey said, "I've done all I could with that character and can do other things now. Now, being middle-aged, you start looking at the back nine and realize this is all part of the journey, and things end. I am fortunate and eternally grateful to have wound up where I have."
On the separation between Tony and Robert, Downey said there are similarities because of his work doing tech-based climate solutions with the Footprint Coalition and his technology-focused YouTube documentary series The Age of A.I. As Downey puts it: "I believe in aesthetic distance. I'm not Tony."
Like the suits of armor upgraded by Stark, each better than the last, Downey believes "evolving is key."
"I had an incredible 10-year run with Marvel which pushed me creatively. I now have tons more ambition to do things I haven't done before. Evolving is key — the worst thing you can do is get in your own way," Downey said. "Just in the matter of me wanting to be a fit father, husband, and citizen, it'd be irresponsible of me to not keep my eye ahead so I can prepare my mind for what's to come and the transition."
He added, "As an actor, every time I get a script now, I think about the commitment and time I'd be away from my missus and kiddos."
In addition to Disney+ original series Ironheart, Marvel Studios is developing Armor Wars with Downey's longtime Marvel co-star Don Cheadle reprising his role as Jim "War Machine" Rhodes. Armor Wars is inspired by the classic Iron Man comic book story of the same name.