2013’s Iron Man 3 made over $1.2 billion at the box office globally and, save for Black Panther, remains the highest grossing standalone MCU movie, so why didn’t Marvel press ahead with Iron Man 4, instead of peppering Robert Downey Jr’s subsequent appearances as Tony Stark across subsequent Avengers instalments and other franchise hits like Spider-Man: Homecoming and Captain America: Civil War?
“Whether you like all of the 24 movies or not, the capital that Marvel built up allowed them to do things like make a movie starring a raccoon and a tree, right? You would’ve already had Iron Man 4 if it was any other studio,” McFeely explained. “But they decided, no, we’re going to take chances on all these other things. To put a flag in the ground and say, We’re going to end something and take characters off the table, is, I think, kind of daring, but selfishly it was really great for us.”
“It needs an end or it loses meaning,” added Markus. “The end is what cements the thing, to actually sew it together and bring it to a crescendo, and yeah, take people off the board, finish their arcs. If Tony made it out the other side, and Iron Man 4 was waiting there, you’d be like, [shakes head] One too many…”
Downey Jr. has previously teased Iron Man 4 in several interviews over the years, even suggesting Mel Gibson should be hired to direct it, but an official announcement never came, and talk of a fourth film died down as the actor steadily popped up in other MCU films, slowly whittling down the number of projects he was contractually obliged to appear in over his decade and change working for Marvel.