Just when we thought he was out, Marvel Studios drags him back in… or it forks over another wheelbarrow full of money?

In the midst of its Saturn Awards coverage, Deadline dropped a fairly big bombshell (in a sidenote, no less) that we would see Robert Downey, Jr. return as Tony Stark in next year’s Black Widow, which is clearly a flashback set in the past of the MCU before Tony Stark and Scarlett Johansson‘s Natasha Romanoff …  SPOILER!!!! … died in Avengers: Endgame.

On Friday, Downey took home a Saturn Award for his performance as Stark/Iron Man in the Marvel Studios blockbuster that beat Avatar‘s long-standing record for the highest-grossing movie worldwide.

Both before and long after Endgame‘s release, most people rightfully believed that Downey was done playing the character. He was getting progressively bigger paychecks with each Marvel movie he made since originating the role in 2008’s Iron Man, and it certainly seemed like the right time to move on.

In fact, Robert Downey’s character was successfully being used to help movies like Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming do much bigger business than they might have otherwise, as well as Downey playing a large part in all the “Avengers” movies since his last solo movie, Iron Man 3, in 2013.

There’s no word on how big a role Stark might have in Black Widow, but we can probably presume it won’t be much more than a glorified cameo at most. That is, unless Disney and Marvel want to guarantee that Scarlett Johansson’s long-deserved solo outing as Black Widow is able to do the same big business as other Marvel movies like Captain Marvel, in which case, they will show Stark’s scene in the trailers and commercials.

The irony, of course, is that Johansson’s Black Widow debuted in Iron Man 2 in 2010, and most people assumed that was the first meeting between their characters. If Black Widow takes place before that movie, they’ll probably need a good reason to have Stark interact with Natasha Romanoff, although I’ve also been informed by someone who saw the San Diego Comic-Con footage that the Black Widow movie takes place sometime after Civil War. My guess is that there will be some sort of framing sequence between the two MCU characters leading to the rest of the movie told in flashback, but we’ll have to wait until May 1, 2020 to find out for sure.

Maybe Downey just loves playing the character of Tony Stark too much to completely give him up, and his Black Widow appearance might lead to similar appearances in other MCU movies.

What do you think?


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