Robert Downey Jr. had an amazing run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was as big a reason as any that the franchise had so much success over its many films. His character’s story had a near-perfect arc and ending when it was all said and done. But there was supposed to be at least one more scene with his Tony Stark character in it and that was going to be in Black Widow. On the Comicbook.com podcast Phase Zero, which focuses on Marvel news, screenwriter Eric Pearson let on where Downey Jr would have factored in.
Now, before anyone gets too excited about this Robert Downey Jr appearance, and the idea that we might have been robbed of a critical scene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pearson was able to clear up some of the recent rumors around this supposed Tony Stark scene. According to the writer, there was a scene in the very first draft of Black Widow that was going to repurpose a scene from Captain America: Civil War that had Stark and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff talking about their future and the sides they had chosen.
Pearson says that this scene with Robert Downey Jr was going to be used as a place-setting scene, meant to remind the viewer that Black Widow takes place after the events of that movie. You can forgive folks for being a little confused about that timeline considering the Black Widow solo movie takes place well before the end of the Avenger saga and ultimately five years after Civil War. The writers were probably right to think of ways to ground the viewer in the timeline of the flick.
In the end, Black Widow chose a different way to reestablish the timeline with Romanoff, having her on the run and outwitting William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross and Robert Downey Jr wasn’t needed at all. It’s probably for the best having his character, for the time being, all but removed from the current storyline. Though Black Widow was a little too late in terms of its story, having it act as a standalone while setting up future stories meant not having to revisit the past more than it already did.
As for Robert Downey Jr ever returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is still a possibility we see that happen in some fashion. Giant Freakin Robot had the exclusive recently that RDJ wanted back in as Tony Stark, though it would be in the form of an artificial intelligence version in Ironheart. That upcoming Disney+ series will star Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, a teenage genius who can recreate much of what Stark did with Iron Man. Downey apparently wants a lot of money to reprise the role which, again, wouldn’t actually be the real Tony Stark.
Robert Downey Jr might never return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the way we remember. And that’s fine. As I said, Tony Stark had a tremendous arc, finishing in perfect (though tragic) fashion in Endgame. Next up for the actor looks like a return to another successful franchise when he reprises his Sherlock Holmes character in the third flick in that franchise.