Of all the individual film franchises within Marvel's overarching Avengers universe, the Iron Man films were my favorite, second only to Captain America. Tony Stark made super hero movies watchable again, after I had tired of both the Spider-Man and the Dark Knight films. Tony Stark is also stealing all of my money because Marvel knows I will compulsively pay for any movie that has him in it. However, when Robert Downey Jr. hinted at an Iron Man 4, that's when I had to put my foot down. I can't pretend that I didn't see it coming, because Iron Man 3 ended with the assurance that Tony Stark would return. However, that doesn't mean I have to like it. Why can't Tony Stark just return for the Avengers movies?
We don't need an Iron Man 4. Yeah, that's right, I said it. In fact, I said it and bolded it because it's that important a message. Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Iron Man 3 tell one, whole, comprehensive story. Iron Man follows his growth from immature, spoiled, weapons manufacturer to immature, spoiled American hero. Iron Man 2 follows his downward spiral and eventual acceptance of his responsibility to the people, the government, and to himself. Iron Man 3 follows his quest to remind himself who he is without the suit and deal with the traumatic aftermath of his latest near-death experience. When Tony blew up the extra Iron Man suits, that felt like a fitting end to the franchise for him. He had a Pepper Potts to focus on, you guys. He could leave the world-saving to Thor, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk until the time came that all the Avengers were needed together again.
For Marvel to open his book back up again would be to undermine his overarching character development. Tony decided at the end of Iron Man 3 that being a full-time super hero was not more important to him than Pepper or his relationship with Pepper. It was not worth risking his life, and hers, just for the sake of his own ego. He was on his way to healing and he had reassessed his priorities. Let him have that. It took three movies for Tony to figure out how to think about someone other than himself, and he spent most of those three movies saving lives. Take a minute to let that sink in.
The Marvel films are not like the Marvel comics. They're not long-running tales that require new plots to be generated all the time. Iron Man is done. It's over. Let it go. You know what Marvel could be doing with their time instead? Making a Black Widow movie. Someone please remind me again why Tony Stark needs his fourth film when Natasha Romanoff hasn't even gotten one of her own yet?
Although, to be fair, Downey Jr. later denied there would be an Iron Man 4 — or hinted that, if there is going to be one, then he might not be involved in it. I would consider Nastaha taking up the mantle as the new Iron Man an acceptable compromise here. Or, better yet, Pepper putting on the suit while that full-on, no-spotlight-sharing, long-overdue Black Widow movie is put into production. I love Tony Stark as much as the rest of you. Really, I do. But does he need another movie? The answer here is no.