At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark sacrificed himself in order to defeat Thanos and his invading armies in the film’s climactic final battle. And after the decade’s worth of interconnected films that led to that moment, it became abundantly clear that the actor — along with fellow cast member Chris Evans — was done with the MCU. Or, at least that was until a recent report in Deadline suggested that Downey would be back as Stark in Scarlett Johansson’s upcoming Black Widow prequel.
The report, which detailed Friday’s 45th Annual Saturn Awards in Los Angeles, mentions the alleged casting in a section about the ceremony’s many awards for Marvel Studios — including special accolades for Kevin Feige. And snuggled in the middle of the Disney-owned company’s section is a single sentence regarding Downey’s return. “Downey will be seen in the role of Stark one more time, however,” the brief and parenthetical line reads, “in the Marvel prequel Black Widow in May 2020.”
Whether or not Deadline‘s report proves to be true isn’t clear. In terms of the MCU’s narrative timeline, especially since Black Widow is a prequel, it makes sense. (After all, both Tony and Natasha are dead now.) But as Downey explained it in an interview last month, now was the time for him and Evans to leave the fold. “We had to get off. We opted to, and knew it was part of the job to get off the bus while it rolled on to other destinations,” he said. “There’s something very sobering about it. I’m glad he and I will be there to welcome others as they retire their jerseys.”
Then again, if Disney and Marvel managed to wave enough money at Downey, then perhaps he would be willing to don his jersey once more.