The inevitable succession

Abhijeet Kini
Saturday, 17 June 2017

With Chris Evans pushing his contract to Avengers 4, and whispers about Robert Downey Jr quitting the role of Iron Man too, Marvel fans could either be devastated or end up with a pleasant surprise

I remember the anticipation and excitement that used to follow any superhero movie announcements back in the ’90s. That, of course, was a time when all these fancy ‘movie-universes’ didn’t exist. The movies were straightforward, plot-based episodes, featuring a hero, heroine and a villain. That’s all.

With Chris Evans pushing his contract to Avengers 4, and whispers about Robert Downey Jr quitting the role of Iron Man too, Marvel fans could either be devastated or end up with a pleasant surprise

I remember the anticipation and excitement that used to follow any superhero movie announcements back in the ’90s. That, of course, was a time when all these fancy ‘movie-universes’ didn’t exist. The movies were straightforward, plot-based episodes, featuring a hero, heroine and a villain. That’s all.

And we were quite happy with it actually. I remember how I used to wait to hear about the next Batman sequel, and how I totally went into a frenzy when they had cast Jim Carrey as the Riddler in Batman Forever. 

Cut to the 2000s, when X-Men movies hit theatres, and changed the name of the game. As things moved forward, Marvel decided they’ll get all their heroes out of the stable and onto the big screen. So when Iron Man, the movie, was announced, most of us comic geeks went, “Huh? Iron Man?” Obviously a leading character in the Marvel comics universe, but not a prime candidate to be chosen over the more popular ones. Still, when the studios said it’ll be Robert Downey Jr headlining the movie, my interest piqued. I mean, going by RDJ’s private life and all the (wrong) news he was making headlines for, the role of Tony Stark may just be done justice to. And how brilliant was he in Iron Man (2008)? The movie put the fun back in superhero films, which were dark and gritty for a while. 

My opinions changed over the next 2 installments of the Iron Man franchise. I hated them. But the actor playing Tony Stark, aka, Iron Man, totally owns the role till date. There is no way you can watch another Robert Downey Jr movie without thinking, “That’s Iron Man!” And I am of the opinion that good casting is half the battle won, especially in superhero films.

But there have always been casting announcements in such films that haven’t gone down well with fans. Who can forget Heath Ledger’s Joker? When Nolan announced this, fans were up in arms, thinking Ledger won’t do justice to the role at all. But look how that turned out! Similarly, when they said Chris Evans would be playing Captain America, not many were happy. He had already essayed the role of Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies (Marvel movies, yes, a different cinematic universe). 

Captain America: The First Avenger looked forced, a filler to be precise, to establish the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now known as MCU. But as the years went by and the sequels happened, Chris displayed his ability to don the Cap mask and carry the shield in a way no one else can.

So when I recently heard that the movie contracts of both, Downey Jr and Evans are nearing an end, I was left thinking about what the future would hold. Of course, Marvel eventually might just get into talks with them and extend the said contracts. If not, re-cast the roles? Can we even think about alternatives for these? Sure, Hugh Jackman signed out of his Wolverine movies in style, and there is a definite void there. Wolverine may just get the much-needed revamp in the Marvel movies, but what about Iron Man? And the Cap? Let’s just hope that we have a Ledger-like surprise in store if they do go in for a new casting. If not, we may just see the last of our favourite heroes on screen. I have my fingers crossed!

- Abhijeet Kini
(Abhijeet Kini is a comic book writer and illustrator)

Follow the writer on Twitter @abhikini

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