Robert Downey Jr. used to be the one constant of the Marvel Cinematic Universe together, and then he wasn't. More than a dozen starring appearances and three solo outings later, RDJ got a literal hero's send-off when Iron Man sacrificed himself against Thanos at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Since then, the MCU and Earth-616 has spent one movie and the entirety of Phase 4 trying to move on from the massive shadow cast by RDJ and his in-universe character, Tony Stark, who's better known as Iron Man. But, while RDJ's exit from the MCU couldn't have been any better, the rumors suggest that Marvel Studios will bring him back in 3-4 years.
RDJ is back baby (for Secret Wars for sure, and there's been some talks for a cameo in Armor Wars)
— MyTimeToShineHello (@MyTimeToShineH) December 28, 2022
According to @MyTimeToShineH, Marvel Studios has struck a deal with Robert Downey Jr. to bring him back as Iron Man in Avengers: Secret Wars, which premieres on May 1, 2026.
The final film of Phase 6 will see the conclusion of the Multiverse Saga. Seeing as the MCU's next big baddie is going to be worse than Thanos, Earth's Mightiest Heroes will need a lot of help. If we believe the rumors, RDJ's Iron Man could be one of them. In addition to this, the deal to bring RDJ's Iron Man back could also involve appearances in the upcoming Armor Wars movie.
The MCU still hasn't properly given RDJ's Iron Man a replacement unlike the other original members of the Avengers. Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams doesn't appear to have a direct connection with Tony Stark and Iron Man except for taking inspiration from the fan-favorite genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist. On the other hand, the pre-teen that Tony Stark helped out in Iron Man 3, Ty Simpkins' Harley Keener, hasn't reappeared ever since paying his respects in Avengers: Endgame. Finally, save for the occasional passing mention here or there, Tony Stark's successor and daughter, Morgan Stark, has been notably absent.
Admittedly, bringing RDJ back would cheapen his sacrifice at the end of Phase 3. But, we're pretty sure Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige has already thought up ways to do this while also honoring his character's legacy.
With that said, four years and more than a dozen TV shows, as well as blockbuster movies, separate us from the premiere of Avengers: Secret Wars. A lot can happen between then and now, so things can change. Either way, regardless of whether RDJ comes back as Iron Man or not, Avengers: Secret Wars will be a spectacle worth watching in theaters worldwide when it comes out.
For now, we'll just have to make do with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which will premiere on February 17.