robert downey jr. mcu

It’s been four months since Avengers: Endgame gave Tony Stark and Steve Rogers send-offs that were equally tragic and triumphant, but we’re still reeling from the loss of the two biggest Avengers. But Robert Downey Jr., whose 2008 smash hit Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is finally talking about his and co-star Chris Evans‘ MCU departures. And he is confirming that it could not have happened any other way.

In a devastating loss that we’ve felt 3,000 times over, the end of Avengers: Endgame saw Tony Stark/Iron Man sacrifice himself to save the world. Steve Rogers/Captain America, on the other hand, saw a very different end, staying in the past to live out a normal life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). But regardless, the end result was the same: Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are seemingly done with the MCU.

But it’s more than a simple case of an expiring movie contract. In an interview with D23 magazine for their fall issue (via Digital Spy), Downey Jr. said that it was the right time for both he and Evans to retire their characters:

“We had to get off. We opted to, and knew it was part of the job to get off the bus while it rolled on to other destinations. There’s something very sobering about it. I’m glad he and I will be there to welcome others as they retire their jerseys.”

Downey Jr. added that he’s “loathe” to talk about his “legacy” however, remarking that Evans and fellow MCU co-star Mark Ruffalo are leaving more of a legacy with their political and environmental activism. But tell that to Disney, which just made Downey Jr. an official Disney Legend.

Spider-Man: Far From Home did a wonderful job of grappling with the legacy that Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark left behind, positioning our favorite webslinger as the next superhero to take Iron Man’s place. (Whether that will hold with the Disney-Sony shenanigans is another story.) But there’s no denying the impact that Downey Jr. left on the MCU. Iron Man created the MCU and the modern era of cinematic universes, and began an arc for Tony Stark that ended beautifully with Avengers: Endgame. Now the MCU moves on without Iron Man, into its fourth, more cosmic and diverse, phase.

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