Marvel CEO Confirms: Robert Downey Jr. Is Out, Scarlett Johansson Is In

in Marvel, Movies & TV

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow smiling, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark looking befuddled

Credit: Marvel Studios

After reports that Marvel Studios was bringing back franchise icons Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Feige spoke on the red carpet for The Marvels (2023) to set the record straight.

The Avengers gathered together on the promotional poster of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

For a long time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the dominant force at the box office. Not only did their films regularly bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, but some of their movies are the most financially successful films ever made, specifically the Avengers films and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).

Part of the success behind the Marvel movies is the casting. Each hero seems to have the perfect actor to play them, such as Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, and Chadwick Boseman as T’challa/Black Panther.

Tony Stark with Black Widow using his hand blaster in Iron Man 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Admits Defeat, Announces New Version of the MCU

Two of the most memorable characters have been around the longest: Tony Stark/Iron Man and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Brilliantly played by Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, respectively, both characters heroically gave their lives to save the universe in Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Now, years later, the MCU is struggling more than ever, with dwindling review scores and less box office success than anticipated. Naturally, rumors spread that Marvel Studios would resurrect Romanoff and Stark to bring back Johansson and Downey Jr. However, this was quickly nipped in the bud by the Marvel head honcho, Kevin Feige.

Robert Downey Jr. Won’t be Returning To the MCU

Tony Stark sitting next to his Iron Man suit on a couch in a basement
Credit: Marvel Studios

While appearing on the red carpet for The Marvels, Marvel CEO Kevin Feige had an interview with Entertainment Tonight. While they spoke about mutants, flerken, and Harry Styles, the most exciting topic was the recent article written for Variety. It reported that executives went on a retreat and discussed “fallen Avengers returning” to garner more favor at the box office. Quickly, Feige refuted the claim.

“Hmm….fallen Avengers returning,” contemplated Feige. “I literally have not even seen that. Is that a new rumor?” After explaining the details to him, specifically about Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, the Marvel head honcho went into more detail himself.

Related: Robert Downey Jr Only Person Who Can Convince Marvel Legend To Return

“We did not discuss that at the retreat. It’s the truth. We’re doing a project with Scarlett, we love Robert, he’s a part of the family. But in terms of returning? We’ll have to see.”

In this moment, Feige seemingly confirmed that not only were there no discussions to bring fallen Avengers back from the dead, but it seemed unlikely that Robert Downey Jr. would return at all. However, he didn’t deny that Marvel Studios was working with Scarlett Johansson. In fact, he confirmed that they were.

Scarlett Johansson Is Already Working With Marvel

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) walking down a hallway after a fight in Iron Man 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: New Series Starring Black Widow and Hawkeye Announced After Disney Ends Current MCU

While many parts of the Variety article have proven unfounded, one detail proved a bit true. While bringing Iron Man and Black Widow back to life was never discussed, it looks like Marvel was already working with Scarlett Johansson on a new project. Whether it has her reprising her role as Black Widow or more of a behind-the-scenes role remains to be seen. This is especially surprising after the controversy surrounding her previous filmBlack Widow (2021).

This is undoubtedly an interesting and dangerous time for Marvel Studios. The ratings for its films have been at an all-time low, including the upcoming movie The Marvels (2023). 2024 will certainly be a defining time for the MCU.

Are you excited about another Black Widow project? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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