'Captain America: Civil War' Director Suggests That Iron Man Will Disappear When Robert Downey Jr. Is Done

"It’s almost impossible to replace Robert," Joe Russo says.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios
"It’s almost impossible to replace Robert," Joe Russo says.

Iron Man may just be a suit of high-tech armor piloted by a self-destructive genius, but that doesn't mean that just anyone can be Iron Man, according to Captain America: Civil War co-director Joe Russo.

Responding to a question about another actor stepping into the role of Tony Stark if and when Robert Downey Jr.'s association with Marvel ends, Russo — who directed May's third Cap installment with brother Anthony — told Forbes, "It’s almost impossible to replace Robert; he’s the biggest movie star in the world."

He added, "One close-up from Robert is worth another actor’s entire performance; he’s incredibly gifted and insanely talented. I think if and when he is done with the character, I think you will find that Iron Man might disappear for a while."

Does this mean that audiences would never see another Tony Stark should Downey hang up his repulsor rays? Russo wouldn't give a definitive no.

"I think the only way that you could reboot that character is to give a generational gap that would allow another actor to at least have a chance to redefine that character without the enormous specter of Robert hanging over it," he hedged. "There are so many characters in the Marvel universe that can pick up the ball and run without it through the next phase or two before you need to see Iron Man again, frankly."

Iron Man will next appear in Captain America: Civil War, released May 6. Beyond that, his future remains entirely unclear…