'Iron Man 4' update: Is the movie still in the cards for Marvel?

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The plan is set for Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) foreseeable future with a slew of established franchises as well as young ones dominating their slate until 2019. However, the question that still remains is if an “Iron Man 4” is still in their pipeline, given the new properties that the film empire is currently developing.

As usual, Marvel Studios brought the house down with their always anticipated panel at the annual San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). Still spearheaded by the company’s president, Kevin Feige, Marvel released a couple of sneak peeks and updates regarding upcoming movies from the franchise.

Interestingly enough, however, this year’s panel had the glaring absence of Robert Downey Jr. (RDJ). The actor, who breathes life to Tony Stark/Iron Man, was a no-show due to the lack of any pertinent movie in MCU’s 2017 slate, other than a cameo for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

Of course, there have been years that RDJ was not part of the Marvel stage in SDCC, but this is the first time that it is apparent that the MCU is already treading their transitional phase. Aside from the 51-year-old actor, Chris Evans, who plays Captain America/Steve Rogers, was also not present. But given that he just had a trilogy capper this year with “Captain America: Civil War,” it is understandable.

The appearance of different faces including Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, as well as the ensemble from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” did not disappoint. A surprise announcement confirming that Brie Larson will be Captain Marvel also went down. While some fans may easily accept the fact that the change in MCU’s lead stars is imminent, that is still not enough to kill the buzz for a supposed swan song for the man who wears the red and gold suit.

Marvel has still kept their lips tightly shut with little to no comment about the future of their debut franchise. But if loyalists are to be asked, they will argue that it is only fitting to have a send-off for RDJ’s stellar run as the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist given that their $10 billion-worth universe has been built on his shoulder.

The actor himself has expressed interest once again in doing a standalone film but what makes the scenario more complicated is MCU’s timetable. While 2020 is the most feasible rollout of a supposed “Iron Man 4,” it will be curious how its story will pan out with Tony going through the cosmic realms in “Avengers” 3 and 4 which will be released in 2018 and 2019, respectively.