It’s been almost 10 years since Robert Downey Jr. took on the role of Tony Stark aka Iron Man in 2008. His casting was a masterstroke that would be the benchmark for all future Marvel heroes.

As of today, Robert Downey Jr. has portrayed Iron Man in eight films; Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk (cameo), Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming

His contract has him slated for two more movies Avengers: Infinity War and a yet untitled Avengers 4 film. After that, he either renegotiates his contract with Disney/Marvel or he retires from the role.

It would seem all fine and dandy if he were to renegotiate and stay on but the question is should he? For many fans, there’s a lot of plusses if he were to stay in the role. After all, Robert Downey Jr. IS the embodiment of Tony Stark.

It was him who made Iron Man appeal to the wide masses outside comic book fandom. After all, before that, the only portrayal of the character was the horribly made 1970s movie. It is safe to say that without Robert Downey Jr. in the first Iron Man movie, the Marvel movie juggernaut wouldn’t be what it is today.

Look how popular the character is now? Ask any non-comic loving person and they can identify who Iron Man is. Even casino slot games have gotten into the game.

Look at the creators of the Jurassic Park Slot game. They’ve even included an Iron Man themed slot game to their selection, which shows just how mainstream and popular the character has become. And this is thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark aka Iron Man.

However, as popular as he is, old heroes still need to retire. It’s been a good run for Robert Downey Jr. but we feel, sooner or later, the audiences will get tired of him and want fresh blood. Even the comics have seen a changing of the guard, with the Iron Man title going over to Riri Williams (though she did rename herself Ironheart).

Robert Downey Jr. is now 52 and there’s only so long someone can hold on to a role before it takes on a toll on the audience as well as the actor themselves. Marvel will have to start making plans for a new actor or find a way retire Tony Stark while shifting the responsibility of shouldering the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to another character or to many other characters.

The latter option would be a better choice as it keeps the history of Tony and Robert Downey Jr. intact while making way for fresh blood and new characters to flex their muscles. By the looks of it though, Marvel might be slowly headed towards that direction.

We’ve already seen that movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and its subsequent sequel could hold its own. There needs to be more though and hopefully the upcoming Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies will be able to have the same performance as Guardians of the Galaxy.

After all, it’ll be a shame if the whole MCU dies a slow death one Robert Downey Jr. retires the mantle of Tony Stark and Iron Man.