Marvel wants to make Iron Man the next James Bond

May 17, 2013 at 8:29 p.m. ET

Iron Man 3 has been a huge success for Marvel and Disney. But with the third film came the end of Robert Downey Jr.'s contract. If he chooses to leave the series, will it survive? Marvel thinks so!

Robert Downey Jr.

This week, Iron Man 3 broke a major box office barrier. It crossed the $1 billion mark after 23 days in theaters. That worldwide tally includes over $300 million that was earned here in the U.S.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Iron Man 3 has become the 16th movie to achieve billion-dollar status. It's joined the likes of Avatar, The Avengers, The Dark Knight and Skyfall. Obviously, fans are still devoted to the superhero and his portrayer, Robert Downey Jr. But the actor doesn't plan on playing the part forever.

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Downey told EW, "My intent is to launch another franchise, independent of any that I can even imagine right now. My intent is to dominate the playing field for as long as I can, with my own challenges, with myself."

That being said, who can take Downey's place? If he goes, will the franchise suffer? At this point, it's hard to tell Tony Stark and Downey apart. They're practically one and the same. Nonetheless, Downey's filled his contractual obligation to the franchise and can throw in the towel.

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Marvel chief Kevin Feige isn't worried about Iron Man's survival. The studio has a plan for the character that goes beyond any one actor.

"I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th," the producer said. "I see no reason why Tony Stark can't be as evergreen as James Bond. Or Batman for that matter. Or Spider-Man. I think Iron Man is a character just like that."

Do you agree with Feige's assessment?

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