Updated Look at Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man Replacement in the MCU

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Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man fixing his suit

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be in a complete state of flux right now, but the show never stops, and the slew of upcoming projects look set to expand the franchise even more. This includes the MCU’s new Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

It was in 2008 when Kevin Feige’s plan for an interconnected Marvel Universe on the big screen began. Jon Favreau brought Iron Man (2008) to movie theaters all across the globe and introduced Robert Downey Jr. as the future Avenger Tony Stark, the eponymous Iron Man and owner of Stark Industries.

What followed was a sprawling 30+ movie saga that delved deep into Marvel Comics lore and brought fan-favorite heroes and villains into live-action for the first time. Now with a television effort to support it, the MCU is firmly in Phase Five, with the next major motion picture being November’s The Marvels (2023) from director Nia DaCosta.

Once celebrated with enthusiasm and energy, the MCU has fallen from grace. Plagued by bad reviews and mixed audience response, superhero fatigue has set in, leaving Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company to reassess their output and scale back on the plethora of upcoming projects. This comes as the MCU suffered its worst year yet, with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and Secret Invasion pulling in the worst critic and audience responses for film and TV, respectively.

Nick Fury shocked in Marvel's 'Secret Invasion'
Credit: Marvel Studios

On the TV side of things, Loki and Echo will follow Secret Invasion and debut towards the end of the year. At one point, it was said that the second season of What If…? would release in early 2023, but that has yet to happen. As we are now in July, it is likely that What If…? will arrive at some point in 2024.

Marvel’s animated series What If…?, created by A.C. Bradley and directed by Bryan Andrews, was released in late summer 2021. The episodes posited a different “what if?” question. From asking what would happen if Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) took the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers (Josh Keaton) to exploring the consequences of Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) losing his love, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), instead of his hands, What If…? allowed Marvel to delve deeper into a Multiverse supervised by Jeffrey Wright’s The Watcher.

Assembling one of the biggest casts in MCU history, What If…? saw many of the live-action actors reprise their roles in animated form, whether they were the same iteration of the character or not. However, interestingly, not all of the MCU stars returned.

Iron Man Zombie in Marvel's 'What If...?'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Quietly Retcons ‘Iron Man’ as Studio Deals With Growing Turmoil

A number of actors were recast for What If…? including Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man, who was played by Hudson Thames, and Steve Rogers, who was voiced by Josh Keaton and not MCU veteran Chris Evans. Like Evans, who had officially left the MCU following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Robert Downey Jr. also did not appear as Tony Stark/Iron Man. That role fell on the shoulders of voice actor Mick Wingert.

And now, fans have an updated look at Wingert’s new Iron Man.

The new Iron Man fans saw in the last episode of What If…? Season 1, wearing some kind of Sakaarian armor and talking with Gamora (Cynthia McWilliams), was originally part of a storyline meant for the debut season. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the animation studio was hit hard, meaning the episode will now air as part of Season 2.

Iron Man (L) and Gamora (R) in 'What If...?'
Credit: Marvel Studios

“What happened was we originally had an episode planned for earlier in the season that was a fun, light-hearted, living breathing Tony Stark-centric episode with Gamora,” Head Writer A.C. Bradley previously said (via Toonado). “I think everyone’s going to be surprised by the way Gamora gets [Thanos’s] armor and how her relationship with Tony evolves because they’re obviously good friends in that bit that we see. It is a promise of more stories to come.”

Fans can now see an updated look at Mick Wingert’s Iron Man donning the Sakaarian armor. Per Toonado, we can see a more detailed look at this Sakaarian Iron Man Variant in Hot Toys action figure form. The emphasis on this armor here, and previously in LEGO, plus Bradley’s comments of “more stories to come,” suggests that Sakaarian Iron Man, that is Mick Wingert’s What If…? Iron Man, is here to stay the course. At least for now.

Tom Cruise getting suited up as Iron Man
Credit: Shamook, YouTube

Related: 13 Years Later, Marvel Replaces Historic ‘Iron Man’ Actors in the MCU

Wingert aside, though, Iron Man has long been rumored to return to the MCU, whether that is with Downey Jr. in something like Avengers: Secret Wars (2027) or sooner with someone like the long-speculated Tom Cruise. In the near future, the Iron Man mythos will continue with Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) appearing as Ironheart in the self-titled series and with Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes/War Machine in Armor Wars (TBD).

Are you looking forward to new Iron Man stories in the MCU? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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