Having taken $1.215 billion in total box office receipts, Marvel's Iron Man 3 is the second-highest grossing comic book film of all time, right after The Avengers. That being the case, it isn't so much a question of will Marvel makeIron Man 4, but when. Many assumed it would come after The Avengers 3 when Robert Downey Jr. will have fulfilled his contract and likely retired from the role. But CinemaBlend found some information that could point to Iron Man 4 already being in development.
At certain Captain America: The Winter Soldier premieres it was reported that Marvel representatives were handing out surveys asking viewers how they enjoyed the film and to give feedback towards various questions regarding Marvel/Disney.
Most of the questions were fairly basic, for example: are you male / female / asexual? Can you touch your nose with your tongue? What is the meaning of life? You know! The basics!
But then take a look at question number 29: "Which movies are you interested in seeing?" Don't worry I highlighted the important part for you.
It is of course possible Marvel is simply gauging interest in an Iron Man 4 before moving forward on the project, but considering how lucrative the last film was, I highly doubt they need to gauge interest.
Marvel has previously stated that the studio's modus operandi is to release one sequel in the first-half of the year followed by a new property in the second-half. 2015 will give us The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Ant-Man, 2016 will give us Captain America 3 and a new property. 2017 will most likely see a release for Thor 3 and another new property followed by The Avengers 3 in 2018 hopefully accompanied by yet another new property.
That wouldn't seem to grant any room for an Iron Man 4 until after 2018 when Downey Jr.'s contract has expired. That is, if not for one thing:
Marvel is intending to boost film production up to potentially three to four new releases a year!
Properties such as Nova, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, The Inhumans, Captain Marvel and a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel have all been bandied about in recent months, but if Marvel really is bumping up their annual releases, there'd be room for all of them and their most lucrative solo franchise.
Even if it doesn't release before Avengers 3, why wouldn't Marvel do everything in their power to retain Robert Downey Jr.? At least, so long as he wanted to put on the suit. He's box office gold, hefty price tag or not.
And if Robert Downey Jr.'s presence would need to be diminished due to his age - he'd be 53 by 2018; well, keep him relegated to the suit most of the movie, or attach him to someone else's property.
Also, if they're worried about topping the plethora of suits in Iron Man 3; well who wouldn't want to see him in...
Iron Man did work closely with the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, after all, and weren't there rumors of a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel in Phase 3? Oh, the possibilities!
Of course they could also utilize the intriguing conclusion to the Marvel one-shot: All Hail the King, I'm sure that would appease many of the fans who felt burned by Iron Man 3.
Either way, I have full confidence that Marvel is working out exactly how they can get Tony Stark - with or without RDJ - back in theatres.