After watching Iron Man 3 and learning about Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel (wherein he didn’t have any other movies aside from the Avengers sequel), I was 70% sure that Tony Stark was going to die by the end of Age or Ultron. I mean, what else is there left for the character? He had the Arc Reactor device removed from his chest – he no longer needed it. Tony Stark didn’t need to be Iron Man anymore.
But Stark didn’t die in Age of Ultron. RDJ reprised his role in Captain America: Civil War and will continue to play the part of Iron Man in the new Spider-Man film. He’s going to be there in the next pair of Avengers films. Tony Stark is alive and kicking in Phase 3 of the MCU films. He doesn’t have a standalone film though, and from the looks of things he won’t get one.
Which is a shame because I think this is a great time to have an Iron Man 4 movie. Tony Stark’s story didn’t end with Iron Man 3, continuing to move forward in both Age of Ultron and Civil War. Stark’s character now has several unresolved plotlines that would be good to tie up in a fourth solo movie. Let me list these down and discuss each on in detail:
Tony Stark Needs a Redemption Arc
Iron Man 3 ended with Stark recovering from the trauma that he sustained from the events of The Avengers. That would have been a positive end to the character, allowing him to serve in a supporting role. But Tony Stark was so central to the plots of both Age of Ultron and Civil War that his character experienced a “fall” of sorts; he was primarily responsible for all the havoc and destruction that Ultron caused and he furthered the internal Avengers conflict when he refused to listen to Steve Rogers.
People probably still blame Stark for Sokovia, and the Avengers are in shambles. Some of them, like Hawkeye and Black Widow, are disgusted with Tony. Rhodey, his right hand man, is paralyzed. Secretary Ross, who is representing the United Nations, has Stark by the balls. And his relationship with Pepper Potts is on the rocks. Clearly, Stark is on the decline.
Stark needs to gain some sort of redemption to get people back on his side, to get them to forgive Stark for the results of his good intentions. He can get a little redemption by serving as a mentor to Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough. He needs a big moral victory to win others back and to boost his own morale, and I think it’ll only be effective if Stark gets this from his own movie rather than making it a side plot in the next Avengers film.
The Tony-Pepper Relationship Needs a Better Resolution
The last time we saw Pepper Potts, she almost died because of Extremis. She didn’t, and Tony Stark realized that she was what was most important to him. So I was, like Steve Rogers, surprised when Stark told him that he and Pepper were taking a “break” due to him continuing to don the Iron Man armor despite his declaration at the end of Iron Man 3.
So we have this nice little romance between two good actors who have great chemistry in roles that play off well against each other. And how does it end? Off-screen, referenced by a few lines of dialogue? I think this aspect of the Iron Man mythos deserves something better. Revisiting the Pepper/Tony relationship would be a great subplot in another Iron Man film. How will Tony and Pepper get past their differences and rekindle their romance? Will Pepper be able to fully understand and accept that Tony is and will always be Iron Man for as long as he lives?
One way to achieve this is to get Pepper to “step into” Tony Stark’s shoes. The idea of Pepper donning Iron Man armor was only touched on in Iron Man 3 but she actually had her own superhero identity in comic books for several years, operating under the name Rescue. A subplot that would involve Stark needing Pepper’s help and giving her her own armor could work – once Pepper experiences how it feels like to help others in trouble, maybe she’ll come around and allow Stark to continue being Iron Man.
I talked about Tony Stark needing some sort of redemption, about him needing to win some people back on his side. Isn’t Pepper Potts one of the people who he really needs to win back? Getting Pepper Potts to believe in him again will be a huge victory for the armored Avenger.
James Rhodes’ Recovery
I feel bad for Don Cheadle’s character, James Rhodes/Rhodey. He got his own War Machine armor in Iron Man 2 but I don’t feel like he’s been effectively utilized. He wasn’t part of the first Avengers movie despite being a known “enhanced” operative and was almost reduced to comic relief in Iron Man 3 (when he was chasing after cold leads). He never even got to take part on an official Avengers mission on-screen prior to the airport battle in Captain America: Civil War. By the end of that film, Rhodey was seen rehabbing from the injuries that he sustained in that said battle.
I’d love to see Rhodey get his proper spotlight moment, his “day in the sun” so to speak, and where better to do that than in another Iron Man film? I’m betting that both Infinity War movies will be loaded with subplots and setup so any War Machine-related focus may end up as bloat.
A Vast Resource of Comic Book Storylines Remains Unused
There’s still a lot of storylines from the Iron Man comic books that could be told, framed within the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, there are several recent arcs that happened in the comics that would fit where Stark is in Phase Three. One of them is Armor Wars, where Tony Stark goes after several people who he thinks is using Stark technology without his permission.
In terms of the MCU, the Avengers have been effectively disbanded, leaving the United Nations without any response unit capable of dealing with the kinds of threats that the Avengers used to face. If I were to write an Iron Man 4 story, I’d use this and have the United Nations come up with their own “superteam” that utilizes different armors and technology based off of Stark’s inventions without his permission. Stark already dislikes working with Secretary Ross; doing this would further tear that working relationship apart.
Another Iron Man storyline that happened in the comics is World’s Most Wanted, wherein the authorities were hunting Stark down. This can be blended into the Armor Wars plot that I was proposing – Stark gets pissed with Secretary Ross for sanctioning another group and allowing them to use his tech without permission. They fight, which turns Stark into a “rogue agent”. They then have to hunt him down, similar to what Stark had to do in Civil War when he was tasked to bring in Rogers and company. This would further lead to Iron Man needing superhuman reinforcements of his own – Pepper as Rescue, a rehabilitated Rhodey back in the War Machine Armor, the Vision, and maybe even some more new characters. That’s just one example – there are a lot more storylines that can be used as a reference for another Iron Man film.
There’s a lot of other reasons that would justify another Iron Man film, but I’ve already talked about what I think are the most compelling ones. RDJ is still willing to play the role of Iron Man, so why not take advantage of it and squeeze one more movie focused on the character?
Would you like to see another Iron Man movie? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment or two below!