Iron Man 4. Robert Downey Jr. A match made in heaven? Maybe, and just like heaven you'll never see it in this world. You know what, it's worse than that. It's like a bad breakup in a small town. Because you're still going to see Robert Downey Jr around in that Iron Man suit in the Avengers movies. But not in your Iron Man movies. No. Those days are over. He's moved on, and so has Marvel.

If I were forced to speak in facts instead of metaphors, I'd explain that Iron Man 4 Robert Downey Jr is impossible for a very simple reason: RDJ doesn't want to do it. But he does want to do Avengers 2 and Avengers 3. Those are a done deal to the tune of an unclear amount of money, rumored to be around $100 million. It's pretty clear that RDJ is pushing Johnny Depp territory with the new deal, at least. But the deal very pointedly did not include any more Iron Man movies.

So what does that mean? No Iron Man 4? Robert Downey Jr not playing Iron Man? Could be either, really. Ultimately, it comes down to Marvel being cheap, and Robert Downey Jr being expensive. Even though they're owned by Disney now, Marvel's notoriously not-profligate ways are catching up to it. They won't pay RDJ for Iron Man 4, so he won't do it. He didn't want to anyway. Iron Man 4 would be a starring role; Avengers 2 and 3 a starring ensemble role or even just an ensemble role. That's a much smaller paycheck. Marvel - or Disney bossman Bob Iger - may have decided that Iron Man 4 just wasn't feasible right now.

But don't despair (or actually maybe you should). Iron Man 4, Robert Downey Jr or not, is still happening. Eventually. Not necessarily this decade, though. Marvel honcho Kevin Feige told Collider the following around Comic-Con:

I've said it before and [not signing RDJ for Iron Man 4] wasn't negotiating tactics. I believe Tony Stark is as strong a character as Batman. We're about to head into our fifth or sixth Batman - however, you wanna look at it - James Bond, etc. So, there will absolutely be future Tony Starks and future Iron Mans. Who makes those movies, and when those movies are made, who knows? I don't know. But, the notion with Robert's contract in The Avengers 2 & 3, is to allow new characters. Part of what we love about The Avengers is the shifting roster. That's what's fun about the comic book movies. You shift them up. So, certainly that was a lot of the thought process that went into it. [Emphasis mine]

There you go, folks. More Iron Man movies. An Iron Man 4, even. But not until after the current slate of Avengers and Guardians peters out. But I don't believe Kevin Feige for a second. This was a total negotiating play, and they lost. Ant Man? Dr. Strange? Rocky Raccoon? Instead of Iron Man, which is established and wildly successful? They aren't a puppet show company in Central Park. They run with their series as long as they can, unless it stops working or they screwed it up. Marvel screwed it up.

Here's the proof that Iron Man 4 without Robert Downey Jr is terrible.

Mark Wahlberg is campaigning for the part.