Marvel's Phase Three: 'Doctor Strange,' 'Iron Man 4,' 'Hulk,' 'Inhumans' or 'Runaways' on horizon? -- EXCLUSIVE

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Iron Man 4

This is the billion-dollar question.

With Iron Man 3 reaching that number at the global box office, a fourth installment would seem to be a no-brainer. Except… Robert Downey Jr.’s contractual obligations have all been filled, and though everyone expects him to return for Avengers 2, there’s no guarantee beyond that.

And if we did get another Iron Man movie, it would be many years away — and Downey himself acknowledges that, at 48, he’s not getting any younger. “I’d go start another one tomorrow, but it’s not tomorrow,” Downey tells EW. “ And there are a lot of other considerations. But I also don’t like the idea of leaving people hanging or leaving people in the lurch.”

Meanwhile, he also has the Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes movies, which could have another installment, and he would like to try out an entirely new character.

“My intent is to launch another franchise, independent of any that I can even imagine right now,” Downey said. “My intent is to dominate the playing field for as long as I can, with my own challenges, with myself.”

That doesn’t leave much room for a return to Tony Stark, but it doesn’t rule out a return in a few years either.

Feige says Marvel Studios is talking with Downey about if and when he could reprise the character. But if it doesn’t happen, we could find ourselves with a reboot. It has happened before, though rarely with a character so singularly identified with one actor.

“I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th,” the producer says. “I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond. Or Batman for that matter. Or Spider-Man. I think Iron Man is a character just like that.”

NEXT PAGE: Black Panther

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