Word around the campfire has been that Robert Downey Jr’s contract to play Tony Stark ran out after he starred in Iron Man 3, and the question of what that means for the future of the Iron Man franchise, as well as for future Avengers movies, has largely been lingering. Surely after the money-making bonanza that was The Avengers, Marvel wouldn’t let one of the most integral pieces of their puzzle walk away. But, on the other hand, after making them so much money Downey was likely going to be asking for a pretty penny to come back and do more, and Marvel has been notoriously stingy negotiators. The fact is, people’s worries about future Marvel movies having to go forward without Iron Man, or at least with a different Iron Man, weren’t completely unfounded.

Today those worries can be laid to rest, however, because we’ve finally gotten word that Downey will indeed be coming back to play Tony Stark in more Marvel movies. In fact, he’s going to be coming back to play Tony Stark in at least two more.

Marvel took it upon themselves to announce the news on their official website, which states that Downey has signed another two picture deal to come back for both The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3. Of course, conspicuous in its absence is the mention of any future solo Iron Man films, which is kind of surprising considering this year’s Iron Man 3 has already pulled in over $800 million internationally on its way to becoming one of the highest grossing movies of all time. Clearly future Avengers films have the potential to earn even more than that, and have to be seen as the priority here, but what does that mean for Iron Man 4?

It means we’re still being left with a couple lingering questions. Is this going to be the end of Marvel making Iron Man movies with Downey Jr, so they can concentrate more on deepening their roster of characters and potentially finding another big money-maker? Or is it just a matter of time before all of those Iron Man dollars that are still being left on the table eventually lure Downey and Marvel back into future negotiations? They say that money talks, but that might not mean so much once you have a computer butler who talks too.

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