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What's next for Robert Downey Jr. after Avengers: Endgame

For more than a decade, Robert Downey Jr. has been the face and, often, the voice of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a massive interconnected world of superhero films that kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, starring Downey in the title role. The film was a box office hit, and Downey began his journey from risky blockbuster prospect to global superstar. This year, with Avengers: Endgame, his journey in the MCU came to an end, and though there may be avenues for him to return in future films, it seems he's done being a full-time Marvel hero.

The good news is that the MCU left Downey with the kind of professional resources he'd never had before in his career, from a massive worldwide fanbase to a hefty bank account to the kind of visibility and clout in Hollywood that will allow him to pursue a whole host of new projects. Thanks to those resources, Downey is definitely not slowing down his career post-Marvel. In addition to upcoming major releases like The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and the third film in the blockbuster Sherlock Holmes series, he's also got a number of other projects lined up, from an HBO miniseries to his directorial debut to a plan to try and save the world in real life. This is what's next for Robert Downey Jr. after Avengers: Endgame.

The Footprint Coalition

He may be done playing Tony Stark, but Robert Downey Jr.'s journey as a world-changing mogul may be just beginning. Downey appeared at Amazon's ReMARS conference in June 2019 and, in the midst of a 20-minute talk about his life, career, and interest in technology and the environment, he announced a major new initiative.

In April of 2020 Downey will launch the Footprint Coalition, an organization that will work to improve the environment using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. Basically, Downey is playing Tony Stark in real life. "Between robots and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years," he said during the announcement.

At this point we still don't know exactly what the Footprint Coalition (named for its goal of reducing humanity's carbon footprint on the Earth) will do first, or what technologies it will use to achieve its first goals. At the moment, the organization is little more than a sparse website with an option to sign up for a newsletter, but Downey is already putting a team together. Weeks after his announcement, Downey recruited Paige Winter — a teen who recently survived a shark attack and responded with a desire to learn more about marine life — to be his ambassador for the coalition in her home state of North Carolina.

Perry Mason

Back in 2016 it was reported that Downey would star in a new miniseries from HBO following a reimagined version of criminal defense attorney Perry Mason, a character created by writer Erle Stanley Gardner who's best known thanks to the CBS television series starring Raymond Burr which ran from 1957 to 1966. Set in 1930s Los Angeles, the miniseries is set to focus on the character's origin story. When the project was initially announced, True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto was also onboard to write the miniseries.

Things have changed significantly in the last three years, but Perry Mason is still happening. Downey is still very much involved, though he will no longer star in the series. Downey has instead stepped back into the role of executive producer on the series alongside his wife and producing partner Susan Downey. The Americans star Matthew Rhys has instead been cast in the title role, with Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and John Lithgow (Pet Sematary) joining as co-stars. Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald will act as writers and showrunners for the series, with Tim Van Patten (The Sopranos) directing. The series is moving forward, but does not yet have a release date.

Sherlock Holmes 3

Shortly after he began his cinematic journey as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. took on another film franchise in the role of another iconic character: Sherlock Holmes. Downey played the legendary detective in two action-heavy films in 2009 and 2011 which grossed more than $1 billion worldwide combined. The Sherlock Holmes films were directed by Guy Ritchie and packed top tier talent into their casts, including Jude Law as Dr. Watson, Jarred Harris as Professor Moriarty, and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler.

In the spring of 2018, Warner Bros. Pictures finally announced a third film in the series featuring the return of Downey in the title role and Law as Watson. We know very little about the film, which was originally set to be released on Christmas Day, 2020, but has since been pushed back to December 21, 2021. This new date places the sequel's release ten years after its predecessor, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The project does not yet have an announced director, which means there's still a chance Ritchie could also return.

The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle

Two major film adaptations of Hugh Lofting's Doctor Dolittle novels have already been released. The first, starring Rex Harrison, arrived in 1967, and the second, starring Eddie Murphy in a modern and more outright comedic take on the subject, arrived in 1998. Now it's Downey's turn to take on the role of an eccentric animal expert who's also able to talk to his animal friends.

Downey has been attached to the project since the spring of 2017, and principal photography on the film began the following year, but then the production hit a snag. Back in April of 2019 it was reported that producers had serious concerns about director Stephen Gaghan's initial cut of the film. The studio called in Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) to write additional material for the script and hired Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to assist Gaghan in directing three weeks of new material and visual effects for the film. All of this led the studio to push back the film's release date from summer 2019 to January 17, 2020.

In addition to Downey in the title role, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle will feature an all-star cast of celebrity voices for animals, including Emma Thompson, Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Octavia Spencer, and many more.

A Dr. John Brinkley biopic

Major studio tentpole films have never been the only thing Robert Downey Jr. is interested in as an actor, and he's not about to give up more interesting choices now that his Marvel days are largely behind him. In 2017 it was announced that Downey would star in an upcoming film based on an episode of the Reply All podcast. The episode, titled "Man of the People," was the story of John Brinkley, a doctor who rose to fame and fortune in the early 20th century for a number of strange and controversial "medical" procedures, including transplanting goat testicles into humans. Brinkley used radio as a way to reach the masses with his medical cons, and Dr. Morris Fishbein — then-editor of the American Medical Association's professional journal — began a quest to take him down.

Downey will reportedly star in the film as Brinkley, putting him in a great position to use his charm onscreen for a conman role. Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed & Confused) will direct, while Downey and his wife Susan will produce through their Team Downey production banner. The film does not yet have a release date.

Pinocchio

Pinocchio is the Downey project we currently know the least about, at least in terms of who else might be involved and when we'll see it. It's also the project that seems most likely to evaporate into nothing, because at various points it's been simply an announced film, a film in development, and a film that doesn't seem to be gaining any traction.

Back in 2010, Warner Bros. announced its plans for a live-action adaptation of the Pinocchio story in a way that would be distinct from Disney's take on the character (Disney is, naturally, developing its own version of a live-action adaptation). In 2012, it was reported that Downey had joined the project to play Geppetto, the wood carver who makes Pinocchio as a son for himself. Since then the film had bounced around so much that now it seems it's simply sitting in some form of development hell. Everyone from Tim Burton to Paul Thomas Anderson has been attached to the film at one point or another, and in 2016 it was reported that Oscar winner Ron Howard might finally be the director to tackle the project. Alas, Pinocchio is no longer even listed on Downey's public filmography on IMDb, so it's possible this one is destined to be nothing.

All-Star Weekend

Downey has great comedy chops, something we've known about him since the early days of his career when he was playing supporting roles in John Hughes films like Weird Science. He's gotten more recent opportunities to show off those skills thanks to films like Chef and Due Date. Sometime soon, he'll be flexing his comedy muscles in a big way yet again with a role in All-Star Weekend, the directorial debut of his The Soloist co-star Jamie Foxx.

Foxx is the writer, director, and star of the film, which follows two friends as they try to make it from their home in Indiana to the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles while constantly battling each other as fans of LeBron James and Steph Curry, respectively. Foxx called in all of his heavy hitter acting friends to star in the film — the cast not only includes Downey, but also Benicio del Toro, Ken Jeong, Gerard Butler, Eva Longoria, and Jeremy Piven.

What we still don't know about the film is exactly when we'll see it. All-Star Weekend does not have an announced release date yet, and as of late 2018, Foxx was still looking for the right distributor for the project.

Singularity

Robert Downey Jr. is a gifted actor, a producer, and even a talented musician, but one area he hasn't yet dipped his toe in is directing. Downey's made a lot of movies, but even as the son of famed filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., he's never made the leap fully to the director's chair. Apparently, that's changing in the near future.

In 2016, The Wrap reported that Downey would climb into the director's chair for the first time with Singularity, a new TV series that would star Anthony Michael Hall. Downey and his wife Susan will produce the project through their Team Downey banner, and Downey is reportedly set to direct the pilot of the series.

Sadly, that's basically all we know about Singularity at this point. The series is still apparently developing, which means there's no release date planned, no network or streaming service reportedly attached, and no supporting cast in place that we've heard about. At this point, even the basic plot of the series is still under wraps, but now that he's in his post-Marvel years, Downey could likely kickstart this one any time.

Team Downey

Robert Downey Jr. met his future wife, producer Susan Levin, when they made the 2003 film Gothika together. They married in 2005, and in 2010 they formed Team Downey Productions to serve as their own banner for future films, some of which Downey would star in and some of which the pair just felt passionate about bringing to the world. The studio's first major project was the drama The Judge, released in 2014 and starring Downey and Robert Duvall.

Team Downey was initially set up at Warner Bros. Pictures, Susan Downey's longtime production home, but the company left the studio in 2016 in what was described as a "mutual parting of ways." Team Downey remains connected to major projects at Warner, including the upcoming Sherlock Holmes 3.

Team Downey also has a number of upcoming projects in development that won't necessarily star Downey, including an adaptation of the acclaimed comic book series Sweet Tooth, an adaptation of the Black Mirror episode "The Entire History of You," and an adaptation of Paul Tremblay's novel A Head Full of Ghosts, among other projects.