At some point, we all have to shed the things that keep us comfortable. Iron Man and Captain America are two of those things (along with living with your parents and your childhood blanket). These characters have been staples within the Marvel cinematic universe for ten years with both characters popping up in the 18 movies that have been released be it in a lead, supporting, or cameo appearance. Marvel has done such a great job establishing new blood (Black Panther, Doctor Strange, etc.) that they’re not light on the number of superheroes they can use. That’s one big reason why both of these characters can be retired.
It has already been revealed by Chris Evans he’s done after these films (including a potentially huge spoilery appearance in Avengers 4), so we know the actor will be out soon enough. But why do you need a Captain America when there is a Captain Marvel on the horizon (with a fresh contract that’ll keep her in the limelight for another 10 years). Both characters are born leaders and while Captain America is a great symbol Captain Marvel can be the leader that takes these movies into the cosmic realm. Plus, is it possible you can have too many captains?
All jokes aside, we may not be losing Captain America since we know from the comics that Bucky at one point takes on the mantle. It’s safe to say though that we’d be losing what we think we know of Captain America if Bucky took over essentially proving we don’t need the traditional WW2 Cap. Like James Bond and the numerous actors who played him we could see different actors and characters suiting up for years.
Robert Downey Jr., on the other hand, has more than once said he wants to play the character for as long as possible. Then again, Marvel Studios superstar producer Kevin Feige has pointed out the character could be literally like James Bond. As Feige put it to the Toronto Sun, “I do think Iron Man, like Spider-Man, like Batman, like Superman, like James Bond has existed long before most of us were around and will exist long after most of us are gone,” Feige says. “So it’s inevitable.”
The inherent difference between Batman and Iron Man though, is that Marvel doesn’t appear to be even close to rebooting or resetting their universe. If you were to take his words seriously you’d have to gather Iron Man may be retired for as long as it takes Marvel to run out of stories and reboot the whole thing. That could take decades, especially since they’ve reportedly planned out films through July 29, 2022.
But why does Marvel need to keep paying Robert Downey Jr. exorbitant salaries (he made $40 million on Captain America: Civil War) when they have a new tech-savvy nation of Wakanda to explore incredible armor and gadgetry? Hell, we’ve seen two examples of Iron Man borrowing Wakanda tech in recent trailers.
The Black Panther actors are indubitably cheaper to cast too. You also have Ant-Man characters who suit up with amazing tech too. I’m not saying it’s easy to replace the genius of Robert Downey Jr., but I do think if you wanted a tech-heavy character Marvel is not hurting for choices.
It’s still too early to know who makes it out of the next two Avengers films, but it’s safe to say Chris Evans won’t be suiting up after these films and Downey Jr. is probably closer to the end than the beginning. It’s quite possible after a few years of not appearing they’ll sign some contract and pop back into the universe unless of course, they die definitively on screen. Rest assured, the Marvel Universe has been built on their backs and now that it can stand upright and move forward with a new roster of heroes to get out of its comfort zone.