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Feige Finally Sheds A Little Light On Iron Man Replacement

With the Armored Avenger gone, both Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Earth itself are left with a gap to fill. According to the man in charge at Marvel Studios, however, that void will probably go untouched for some time. 

Kevin Feige, who has served as the president of Marvel Studios since before the MCU was even a thing, finally broke his silence and shed some light on who might replace Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, who sacrificed his life for the safety of the entire universe in Avengers: Endgame

Past reports suggested that the Marvel Comics character Ironheart, a girl named Riri Williams who builds her own superhero suit based on Iron Man's armor and even gets his stamp of approval to be a vigilante, would be the lucky one to assume the Iron Man mantle in the wake of Tony Stark's death. After Iron Man falls into a coma following a fight in a comic storyline, Riri protects innocent civilians in his stead, looking out for the world as Ironheart. It makes sense that Ironheart might replace Iron Man on the big screen given her personal evolution in the comics, but Feige hinted that it isn't a done deal in the slightest. 

In an interview with BET ahead of the July 2 release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Feige got to talking about a replacement for Iron Man when the interviewer, Jerry L. Barrow, mentioned that Downey Jr. had said during the Gene Siskel Film Center Gala in June that Ironheart should the MCU. Feige shared that he adores the character of Riri Williams, but admitted that nothing is set in stone at this time.

"I think it's a great character, and it's been fun to see how she evolves in the comics. I just saw that quote, too. But again, the future...," Feige said, trailing off.

Without using words, Feige essentially clarified that he doesn't know what the future holds for Ironheart and isn't at liberty to discuss whether or not she can, will, or should be a part of the MCU.

Later on in the interview, Feige mentioned that he continues to be blown away by fans' response to Marvel Comics characters, and fully understands why there's a seemingly never-ending list of heroes people want to see debut in the MCU. He owned up to initially finding the constant questions about whether particular characters would appear on the big screen to be frustrating, then said that he now views it as a "great, great privilege" to be able to make movies for such a passionate fandom.

"It's really amazing, and as much as it's a testament to the movies, which has grown the fan base and built it, it's a testament to the wealth of characters that Marvel has. I remember almost five years ago at the El Capitan and pitching Phase 3. We announced 10 movies or so. I did a Q&A with a small group of press right afterward. The first questions were, 'OK, so those 10 movies sound great, what about this character and this character?'" stated Feige. "I said, people, we just announced five years' worth of movies. At first, I thought it was frustrating, but then I said, no, that's incredible. You can announce 10 full movies, and people still go, 'Great, what about this character?' It's a great, great privilege."

Fans have long thought Riri Williams would eventually suit up as Ironheart and fly into the MCU, and the desire to see that happen has only burned stronger in the time since Avengers: Endgame debuted in theaters in late April. The final moments of the film saw Iron Man snap his fingers, turn Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his alien army to dust, and die knowing that his passing meant a safe future for his family (including fianceé Pepper Potts and daughter Morgan Stark) and his fellow Avengers. When another Avenger, Chris Evans' Captain America, passed on his superhero mantle to Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson, many Marvelites wondered how the MCU would fill the Iron Man-sized gap and who would be the hero to replace him. 

The general consensus is that Ironheart should be that vigilante — and it isn't just fans who support the idea. Robert Downey Jr. clearly does, and Spider-Man actor Tom Holland does as well. Previously asked about who he would like to see join the MCU down the line, Holland answered, "Her name's Ironheart — Riri. She'd be a cool person to bring to the big screen ... the multiverse opens up so many doors where we can introduce so many cool new characters like Ironheart."

Even still, Feige's comments to BET make sense. It really is too early to say one way or another when and if Ironheart will soar into the Marvel movie universe, since the characters in the MCU haven't yet begun to grieve the loss of Iron Man and because Marvel still hasn't announced what's coming next in Phase 4Spider-Man: Far From Home will explore how the world gets on after Iron Man's passing, with Peter Parker hoping to keep his legacy alive, but it doesn't seem like there's any sort of rush to select his replacement. Iron Man meant too much to his fellow heroes — and to the world around him — for anyone to potentially dishonor him in that way. The best course of action is the one Marvel Studios is apparently taking: let the death of Iron Man sink in before opening any doors for someone new to take his place.