Actor Robert Downey, Jr. — who had a famously public struggle with addiction for years — was given a second chance to make a name for himself in Hollywood when he was cast as Iron Man/Tony Stark in Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For over a decade, RDJ portrayed Howard Stark’s son in the Avengers franchise — including starring in the ever-popular Iron Man trilogy itself alongside characters like Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), his assistant-turned-wife Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).
Much to fans’ dismay, this marked the end of the Sherlock Holmes star’s time in the MCU. Downey, Jr. said in no uncertain terms that he has “done all I could with Iron Man”, dashing any flicker of hope for his future return to the Marvel universe.
Now, however, it would seem that RDJ and another famous super hero director are teaming up. Christopher Nolan (Tenet) is best known for his The Dark Knight trilogy — Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) — that starred future Thor: Love and Thunder (2023) villain Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne.
Nolan is currently working on a new film, Oppenheimer, which is set to star Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who ran the Manhattan Project, ultimately developing the atomic bomb that was used during World War II.
The Hollywood Reporter was able to confirm that Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Departed), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, Jungle Cruise, A Quiet Place), and RDJ are set to play in the upcoming Nolan project:
Murphy is portraying the theoretical physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb during World War II. According to sources, Blunt is playing his wife, Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, while Damon will play Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. research initiative that developed the first atomic bomb.
As for Iron Man, he recently returned to the MCU — though not voiced by Downey, Jr. — in animated series What If…?, which reimagined key moments in the MCU if they had happened very differently — think zombie hunter Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Peggy Carter as Captain Carter instead of Steve Rogers Captain America.
Although RDJ did not rejoin his Avengers costars for the first season of What If…?, many Marvel Cinematic Universe alums did return. Among them were Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/the Hulk), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym), Michael B. Jordan (Erik “Killmonger” Stevens), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange), and late actor Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther).
Are you excited to see RDJ in a Christopher Nolan film?
You can stream Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and the four series in Marvel’s Phase Four so far — Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s WandaVision, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and Marvel’s What If…?— on Disney+ anytime.