Robert Downey Jr. Will Be Back As Iron Man in Avengers 2 & 3…. But Not Iron Man 4

Robert Downey Jr. will be putting on his hot-rod-red superhero suit again — and then again, according to the latest news from Marvel Studios. The actor who’s played Iron Man in four blockbuster films will be seen onscreen as high-flying, fancy-toy-loving genius playboy Tony Stark at least twice more, having officially signed an agreement to star in the as-yet-untitled second and third films in the “Avengers” series.

Downey made his first outing as Iron Man in the 2008 film of the same name, earning accolades for his performance as the insouciant hero and banking enough buzz (along with billions of dollars in ticket sales) to bring him back for another two “Iron Man” movies as well as a standout turn in the ensemble action hit “The Avengers.”

With such reliable box-office draw for the man in the metal suit, it’s no surprise that Marvel was eager to woo Downey for two more appearances; “Iron Man 3,” which is still in its theatrical run, has already passed the $400 million mark at the domestic box office and earned $1.2 billion worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film in history. And as for the actor, he’s made it clear that he’ll be happy to run Stark Enterprises for as long as Hollywood cares to have him — as long as the movies are worth making.

“I would really hate for someone else to think they could step into my shoes,” he said in an interview with MTV News last year. “As usual in my book, it’s all about quality control and delivering a product that you can have this kind of reaction to. If they keep doing that, maybe I’ll keep showing up.”

Needless to say, “The Avengers” fit the bill for Downey: it was last summer’s biggest movie, with an all-star cast of Marvel superheroes including Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Black Widow and Hawkeye. And the sequel looks to be shaping up similarly: Writer/director Joss Whedon is on-board once again, and the filmmakers have promised that “The Avengers 2” will bring back most if not all of the characters from the first film, along with new faces from the Marvel universe who will be making their first-ever appearances on-screen. Production on the movie is slated to begin in March 2014.

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