Summary

  • A new fan-made poster for Ironheart suggests that Robert Downey Jr. could return to the MCU as a new artificial intelligence.
  • Tony Stark aids Riri Williams’ Ironheart as an artificial intelligence in Marvel Comics, so there is precedence for this evolution of his character in the MCU.
  • While Robert Downey Jr.’s return as the original Tony Stark is unlikely, his potential return to the MCU hasn’t been ruled out completely.


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A new fan-made poster for Marvel Studios’ Ironheart depicts Robert Downey Jr.’s heavily-rumored return to the MCU as Tony Stark’s Iron Man. Following her MCU debut in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams, a.k.a. Ironheart, is set to make her next appearance in her self-titled Disney+ series, Ironheart. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige first confirmed the series’ development in 2020, with the series expected to premiere in 2025 as part of the MCU’s Phase 5. Ironheart will further establish Riri Williams as one of Iron Man’s legacy heroes in the MCU, following his sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, but speculation suggests the original armored hero could also return.

Since Robert Downey Jr.’s departure from the MCU in Avengers: Endgame, there has been speculation about his return as Iron Man. Despite comments from Downey Jr. and Marvel Studios, these rumors persist, and Ironheart has been suggested as the perfect place for his return. Tony Stark and Riri Williams have now been depicted together in a fan-made poster for Ironheart shared by Hazzaa Jarrar.

The art imagines Tony Stark as an artificial intelligence aiding Williams at the start of her Ironheart journey. This reflects Ironheart’s origins in Marvel Comics, as Tony Stark transfers his consciousness into a technological device, becoming an AI for Ironheart akin to Iron Man’s own JARVIS.

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Riri Williams debuted in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ahead of her first solo appearance in Ironheart, which is set to extend Iron Man’s MCU legacy.


What Robert Downey Jr. Has Said About Returning To The MCU

Robert Downey Jr.’s potential MCU return has been rumored since he left the franchise, but similarly to Chris Evans – who also retired from the role of Steve Rogers’ Captain America in Avengers: Endgame – his return as Iron Man seems more unlikely as time goes on. Back in 2020, during an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience, Downey Jr. suggested that his return to the MCU may be possible if there was a “super compelling argument” for Tony Stark’s reappearance. However, the legendary actor stressed that he wanted to take part in new projects as well, including 2023’s smash-hit Oppenheimer, which may make an MCU reprisal difficult.

More recently, as part of a 2023 cover story by Vanity Fair on Robert Downey Jr., Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame would not be undone. Feige noted that everyone “worked very hard for many years to get to that,” and that they are “going to keep that moment and not touch that moment again.” While this doesn’t rule out the possibility of Downey Jr.’s return, it suggests that he wouldn’t be returning as the original version of Tony Stark. This does, of course, create the opportunity for his return as a multiversal variant, or indeed as an artificial intelligence in Ironheart.

Source: Instagram/YouTube/Vanity Fair

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