Robert Downey Jr. Ditches ‘Iron Man’ Return to Become a Mechanic

in Movies & TV

Robert Downey Jr. in Downey's Dream Cars

Credit: Warner Bros.

RDJ’s going all-in.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in 'Iron Man' (2008)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: ‘Iron Man’ Star Apologizes to Trans Community After Backlash

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a superhero franchise that originated with the success of Robert Downey Jr.’s (Sherlock Holmes, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Ally McBeal) return to the spotlight in the 2008 film Iron Man, directed by Jon Favreau. The son of filmmaker-actor Robert Downey Sr. and husband of film producer Susan Downey, Robert Downey Jr.’s fame now extended beyond Hollywood, Los Angeles, becoming a household name after the portrayal of Iron Man‘s titular character, Tony Stark/Iron Man in the film. It received such an overwhelmingly positive response that the creation of an entire superhero franchise built upon the success of this unexpected hit was almost inevitable.

(L-R) Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johannsson in 'The Avengers' (2012)
Credit: Marvel Studios

This success paved the way for the “cinematic universe formula”, where characters from different movies are brought together in a shared universe. The Avengers (2012), directed by Joss Whedon, where Iron Man, played by Downey Jr., was joined by other superheroes, including Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). They were brought together by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury to battle an alien threat, led by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki Laufeyson/Loki Odinson, whose Chitauri army was endangering New York City.

Robert Downey, Jr,. as Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Robert Downey Jr. Schools Marvel on What They Should Do to Fight Superhero Fatigue

Following the Russo Brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), where the OG six’s future seemed bleak after their epic battle with Thanos (Josh Brolin), RDJ’s Iron Man has been noticeably absent from the MCU due to his heroic sacrifice.

What is the possibility of Robert Downey Jr. returning to Marvel?

Chris Evan's Captain America talking to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark
Credit: Marvel Studios

Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios within The Walt Disney Company, has meticulously crafted the MCU for years, and with the new Multiverse Saga continuing on from the first three Phases of the MCU (termed the Thanos-centric Infinity Saga), Phase Five is just about to properly get started with the upcoming The Marvels (2023) following this year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the cusp of another “Avengers-level threat” to rival Josh Brolin’s Thanos, there have been many rumors about RDJ’s supposed return.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark
Credit: Marvel Studios

Even though Marvel themselves have said that Downey is “off the table” for now, it is at least partially corroborated by Feige that Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2025) and Avengers: Secret Wars (2026) is ramping up to the craziest MCU crossover ever — with every single Marvel-related property likely to make an appearance. What better than to bring the guy who started it all back for one epic, final showdown?

Not to mention that the Iron Man successor is getting her very own Disney+ show soon — and in the Marvel Comics, that character has Tony Stark as an AI mentor!

However, all of this is down to Robert Downey Jr. himself, who does not seem as onboard at the moment for any of the standard Marvel movies’ shenanigans — seeing as he’s got a ton (in fact, quite a lot of tonnage) on his plate.

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man fixing his suit
Credit: Marvel Studios

Why is RDJ fixing cars now?

It seems that Downey — just like Tony Stark — has a huge love for tinkering.

The Best Actor nominee has been busy since portraying Dr Dolittle in Dolittle (2020). Proving that life somewhat imitates fiction (or perhaps that Marvel Studios just has a very on-the-nose casting department), RDJ is embarking on a brand new project and TV series — and isn’t a Marvel series.

Along a very similar vein to Tony Stark’s search for alternative energy sources in the Iron Man films, it appears that the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA award-winner is tying his love for “eco-friendly” solutions with his love of vintage cars.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man (left) and Lexi Rabe as Morgan Stark (right)
Credit: Marvel Studios

The entertainment outlet Discussing Film recently shared a first look at Downey’s latest endeavor — a Discovery+ show (now likely on the HBO Max-rebranded streaming service) called Downey’s Dream Cars. It will be a new docuseries following Charlie Chaplin actor’s attempts to play eco-mechanic to a bunch of classic automobiles:

First look at Robert Downey Jr’s ‘DOWNEY’S DREAM CARS’.

The docu-series follows Downey Jr as he restores classic cars into eco-friendly automobiles.

As expected of the internet, RDJ’s attempt to turn this “automobile mechanic” project into another source of income for the Hollywood star, has already been met with some skepticism. Members of the public have begun calling the Iron Man actor out on the environmental impact of his new show, and the aggressive “gutting” of historical cars:

“Into eco-friendly automobiles” so gutting classic pieces of history and replacing them with lithium ion batteries that are worse for the environment? Got it.

On the other hand, there are others like Craig Penfold who are excited to see what the Team Downey founder brings to the table in his new role as Warner Bros. Discovery’s premier mechanic:

Oh my gosh, that genuinely sounds so interesting.

Meanwhile, others are realizing the similarities between Marvel’s Tony Stark actor and their Clint Barton actor, Jeremy Renner, who has a new Disney+ show where he restores big vehicles for communities in need, called Rennervations:

The following may contain language unsuitable for younger readers.

Clint Barton and Tony Stark in their retirement years:

Let’s Restore shit!

RDJ will likely be back to superhero-ing eventually — his name is practically synonymous with “Marvel”, after all. Of course, we can likely count on Marvel Studios to keep completely silent on his return, so for now fans get to watch him mess with cars before the epic events of Secret Wars.

What do you think of Robert Downey Jr. playing mechanic instead of rejoining the Marvel fray? Will you watch Downey’s Dream Cars? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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