The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a sprawling franchise featuring several interconnected characters and film series, taking place both on Earth and in the cosmos. However, everything the studio has done can be traced back to one project: Iron Man. Jon Favreau’s origin story didn’t just introduce casual moviegoers to Tony Stark, it also changed the superhero genre as a whole, establishing the shared universe model as a viable business strategy.
Next up for the MCU is The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which Marvel has begun to promote. A couple of weeks ago, they were forced to move forth on that process a bit early, when the Avengers 2 trailer leaked onto the web. They eventually made the official, high-res version live, but for a while, the bootlegged copy sent shock waves throughout the Internet.
Favreau may no longer be directing movies for Marvel Studios, but he has remained involved with the company, serving as an executive producer for Iron Man 3 and the two Avengers films. As such, it would stand to reason that he had some thoughts on the leak. During an interview with Access Hollywood during the BAFTA Los Angeles Jaguar Britannia Awards, he shared them:
“I think what it shows is that there is tremendous enthusiasm for it, and fortunately it was ready to go out officially. You know, things don’t always happen the way you want them to in the information age, but I really love the reaction that the trailer got and I think it’s wonderful.”
The original plan was for Marvel to unveil the teaser during an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but someone (maybe Hyrdra?) got their hands on it a few days prior and made it available. Based on fan reaction, Favreau’s statement that there is “tremendous enthusiasm” surrounding the sequel may be an understatement, as people spent the immediate moments following the leak quoting Pinocchio songs and theorizing what will happen to Earth’s Mightiest.
It’s also true that this “information age” of social media has made it more difficult for studios to be discrete about their plans to showoff footage from their most anticipated works. It’s something that Marvel themselves have faced a few times in the past, with Favreau citing an incident in which clips from Iron Man were leaked following a San Diego Comic-Con panel.
These big scale productions generate a lot of excitement, and followers are always desperate to see their favorite characters brought to life – even if it’s just in unofficial set photos or videos. With so many eyes on these blockbusters, it’s hard to imagine a plausible solution for this problem, unless directors decide to film entirely behind the closed doors of a sound stage. But that probably will never happen.
During his interview, Favreau was also asked about the possibility of an Iron Man 4. Star Robert Downey, Jr. has jokingly hinted that it’s something that could be in development (under the right terms), but when Marvel announced their Phase 3 slate last week, another solo outing for Stark was not one of the projects scheduled.
Despite his role as an executive producer with Marvel, Favreau isn’t the one to go to for updates, since he’s apparently in the same boat as the fans:
“I don’t know what’s going with ‘Iron Man 4.’ You have to talk to Robert or [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige.”
Downey recently said that he could see his tenure in the MCU last so long for him to appear in movies that reach the “double digits,” but he’s getting close to reaching that number. And while Iron Man 4 may not be in the cards right now, the character will still play a crucial part in Phase 3, with Downey locked in for both Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers: Infinity War. His standalone adventures rank among the most profitable in the studio’s young history, but there are other ways to capitalize on Iron Man’s popularity.
Feige claims that Marvel has their universe planned out through 2028, so theoretically, Iron Man 4 could be part of Marvel’s Phase 4. That said, it may not be likely. The earliest that film would appear is 2020, and by then, Downey could very well be ready to move on for good. He’s already publicly said superhero movies are getting “a little bit old,” so when the credits roll on the second part of Infinity War, it may be adios to Anthony Stark.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters May 1, 2015.
We’ll keep you updated on Iron Man 4 as more information becomes available.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.