Marvel May Have to Replace Robert Downey Jr. With Tom Cruise After Stunning Announcement

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Tom Cruise getting suited up as Iron Man

Credit: Shamook, YouTube

After the latest bombshell news, the Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios may debut Tom Cruise as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

It’s by no stretch to say that Kevin Feige’s once-dominant MCU franchise is being chipped away. After a string of hits across the decade, including a landmark era of movies in 2018 and 2019 with the billion-dollar sensations Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Captain Marvel (2019), and Avengers: Endgame (2019), the MCU is stumbling.

Disney+ shows came thick and fast, and many called for quality over quantity. Following Black Widow‘s (2021) rocky release, tempers simmered with the huge Spider-Man sequel epic, Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) caught the tailwind of Spidey’s success thanks to the many rumors spiraling about cameos. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) took up the latter half of the year, but superhero fatigue was well and truly setting in.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: ‘Iron Man 2’ Star Vulgarly Trashes Hollywood Legend Tom Cruise Live on Air

Then Marvel Phase Five officially began with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), which became the worst-performing movie for the franchise. It also retroactively became embroiled in the Jonathan Majors saga. The Kang the Conqueror actor was arrested on domestic abuse charges in New York City earlier this year. Litigation continues.

Following that, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) proved more successful, as James Gunn wrapped up his beloved franchise with a heartwarming and heroic story. But through all this, one thing is notable. Marvel Studios does not have the box office weight it used to carry.

Guardians of the Galaxy characters Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff)
Credit: Marvel Studios

And neither does Disney. Across the board — Disney classic animation, live-action, Pixar, and so on — Disney has been struggling to make a mark both at the box office and in the hearts of fans. Last year’s dismal performance of Lightyear (2022) and Strange World (2022) failed to be forgotten as Elemental (2023) also struggled to take off. The Little Mermaid (2023), the long-awaited live-action remake starring Halle Bailey, made a splash but not a wave, and the recent release of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) from Lucasfilm got a lukewarm opening weekend. The anomaly in all this is James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), which, of course, delivered massive takings.

All this to say, Disney may have the current highest takings of a total studio for 2023, but it’s obviously flailing with so many movies underperforming. Let’s be real here, the 2022/2023 box office has been turbulent and surprising. This year, The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) soared to take over Disney’s Frozen (2013) in the highest-grossing animated movie list. The film, along with other animated outings like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023) and action powerhouse Fast X (2023), join Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as this year’s biggest blockbusters.

That is until Tom Cruise returns.

Tom Cruise riding a motorcycle
Credit: Paramount Pictures

This year marks the seventh entry into the Mission: Impossible franchise, and it may be Cruise’s ticket into the MCU.

Mission: Impossible is one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time, with a current total gross of $3.5 billion, and director Christopher McQuarrie’s newest movie, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (2023), looks set to be another big hit for the action series.

According to stunning new reports from Deadline, Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One is expected to dominate with a huge opening bow. “[W]ith an expected franchise global 5-day record of $250M; made up of $90M domestic, and $160M abroad in 70 markets including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom,” Part One is on track to be this year’s biggest movie so far.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in Mission Impossible Fallout
Credit: Paramount Pictures

And it’s not the first time Tom Cruise has been coined the savior of summer. Last year, Top Gun: Maverick (2022) netted just shy of $1.5 billion and was touted as the film that got people back into the movie theater. What is interesting in both Tom Cruise cases is that neither movie is of the comic book genre.

So with a track record of delivering stunning box office receipts, could Marvel finally turn to the Hollywood star to save the MCU? It wouldn’t be a reach to say so.

Tom Cruise as Maverick in 'Top Gun'
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise as Iron Man

Tom Cruise was reportedly once considered to star as Tony Stark in the original Iron Man (2008) movie. “It just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work,” The Things reports. “I need to be able to make decisions and make the film as great as it can be; it just didn’t go down that road that way.” The role went to the beloved Robert Downey Jr., who stayed with the franchise for over a decade.

And then, when rumors about who could appear alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange (2016) sequel surfaced, Cruise’s name wasn’t left out. After the possibilities of the Multiverse were made clear in Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans were yearning for Tom Cruise to arrive as an Iron Man Variant, possibly the Superior Iron Man, even going so far as to create deep fake videos featuring the actor.

Tom Cruise as Iron Man
Credit: Stryder HD, YouTube

Related: ‘Iron Man 4’ “Trailer” Stuns as Tom Cruise Takes Over as Tony Stark

Earlier this year, Phase Zero spoke to the actor, who revealed he was “not close” to playing the Avenger. “I love Robert Downey Jr. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role, and I think it’s perfect for him,” Cruise said about the part (via Fansided). “I look at a movie and think, you know, I don’t rule anything out, it’s what’s the story? What’s the character? Does it interest me? Do I feel this is what an audience would like to see me in? What can I learn? What can I contribute?”

As we know, Cruise never did show up in Multiverse of Madness, but with all eyes on the future of the Multiverse Saga, which ends with Avengers: Secret Wars (2027), there is still a chance Kevin Feige’s Marvel Studios could turn to the Hollywood powerhouse.

Can you see Tom Cruise as Iron Man in the MCU? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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