Marvel Studios’ latest film CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR has been a smashing critical and financial success. In the wake of this success, fans are looking forward to the next phase of the MCU. So far, Marvel’s Phase 4 includes sequels to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, as well as the first solo films for DOCTOR STRANGE and BLACK PANTHER. There’s a lot to be excited about with Phase 4’s confirmed films, but some potential additions to the slate might be cause for a whole lot more. One of the most significant rumblings being a potential IRON MAN 4 film as a part of Marvel’s Phase 4. Robert Downey Jr. has all but confirmed the film, and with Jon Favreau, director of the first two IRON MAN films expressing interest in returning to the MCU, the film is highly likely.

Tony Stark has gone through so much in the MCU, how much can the character further develop in his fourth solo outing? The IRON MAN films have had their ups and downs, the first film being a clear high point. The latter two films, however, haven’t been received as unanimously well by fans, and another installment with the original creative team might make a more fitting conclusion to Tony’s solo adventures than IRON MAN 3. Tony Stark is a great character and a staple in the Marvel Universe, but the three films he’s been given are but a taste of the character’s full mythos. Here are 5 things from IRON MAN’s best comics that we’d love to see in IRON MAN 4.

1. The ACTUAL Mandarin

Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin

One of the more divisive aspects of the IRON MAN franchise was the handling of the Mandarin in IRON MAN 3. Instead of using the character as the primary antagonist he is, he is instead used as a distraction to throw Tony off the trail of the main villain Aldrich Killian. I personally didn’t mind the choice to have the Mandarin used as a red herring, and understood the desire to avoid the mystic/magical angle at that point in the MCU where most of the action and characters are science-fiction based. In Marvel’s Phase 4, we will be introduced to Doctor Strange and some other cosmic entities that bring a magical element to the MCU. In a post-DOCTOR STRANGE MCU, there is room (and enough suspension of disbelief) for the comic book accurate Mandarin to exist. Not to mention the re-use of the character allows for Marvel to redeem their use of IRON MAN’s main villain as a red herring. For story purposes, there are many different directions you could go with the Mandarin. He could be presented as a terrorist warlock, a dragon summoning wizard (more on this later), or he could just assemble his ten rings and make Tony Stark’s life a living hell. Back in the earlier phases of the MCU, Marvel Studios produced a series of direct-to-video short films called Marvel One-Shots. One of the One-Shots, called ALL HAIL THE KING, featured the Mandarin from IRON MAN 3 (played by Ben Kingsley) being interviewed about the potential of the real Mandarin existing. This Marvel one-shot at the very least, alludes to the existence of an actual Mandarin somewhere in this universe.

READ: Check out our retrospective of IRON MAN 3

2. Fin Fang Foom

Fin Fang Foom

This giant green space dragon is one of the most notable villains in IRON MAN’s rogues gallery, appearing in numerous stories opposite Tony Stark. There have been many versions of Fin Fang Foom across different mediums, but the original and definitive version of the character is the alien shapeshifter from the planet Maklu IV. Foom was a navigator for his race, arriving in ancient China and staying in a coma-like state until his fellow aliens arrive to eventually take over the planet (as aliens often do in comics). The Mandarin wakes him up in an attempt to use Foom’s power to take over China, but he is (of course) stopped by Iron Man and his sidekick War Machine. Though Foom is an alien, there are also mystical elements to the character that pertain to the alien vessel he arrived in and the ten power rings. With the introduction of magic to the MCU in DOCTOR STRANGE, supernatural creatures like Fin Fang Foom won’t be so unbelievable/ridiculous. It would make perfect sense to use the Mandarin to bring Foom to life on the bring screen. Foom being such a central character in Stark’s rogue’s gallery is more than enough reason to use him in another IRON MAN solo film, but furthering the mystical aspects of the MCU is also a great reason to incorporate Foom into the MCU.

3. Demon in a Bottle

Demon In A Bottle

The “Demon in a Bottle” storyline is one of the most iconic and character defining stories in the Iron Man canon. Along with being a billionaire, genius, and womanizing playboy, one of the most notable aspects of Tony’s character is his alcoholism. Stark turns to alcohol to help him cope with his problems, and it ends up becoming a central part of the character. Though IRON MAN 2 touched on Tony’s alcoholism very slightly, “Demon in a Bottle”  would be a great story to adapt for IRON MAN 4. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is  decidedly more adult and quite a bit darker than the other Marvel films, even being categorized as a psychological thriller by the directors. With CIVIL WAR featuring more mature themes, this trend can continue in IRON MAN 4. This story is a very interesting one, complete with Avenger cameos and malfunctioning Iron Man armor. In the wake of Tony and Pepper’s off screen break up, there is also potential for a more womanizing Tony Stark which would be more of a call back to his original characterization in the comics. This storyline could also serve as a personal reflection for Downey Jr. himself. RDJ has a past of substance abuse that has been well documented in the media. It would be an interesting situation of art imitating life in the most profound of ways. This film definitely has to be PG-13, but there isn’t any reason Downey Jr. and the filmmakers at Marvel Studios can’t delve into something as complex as Tony Stark’s alcoholism with a younger audience still in mind.

Read: Here’s our revisit of IRON MAN 2!

4. Iron Man: Director of Shield

Iron Man Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

One of my personal favorite character developments in all of comics is Tony Stark’s transition from careless playboy to hero. The aftermath of Marvel’s CIVIL WAR comic event saw Tony Stark become Director of Shield. IRON MAN DIRECTOR OF SHIELD would be another perfect story for IRON MAN 4 because of the events of CIVIL WAR and THE WINTER SOLDIER. DIRECTOR OF SHIELD also followed the CIVIL WAR comic, so it would make sense to adapt this story right after the CIVIL WAR film. DIRECTOR OF SHIELD would also be a great story for IRON MAN 4 because it would be a departure from generic superhero films and would allow a new genre within the MCU. The same way CIVIL WAR is a psychological thriller, ANT-MAN is a heist film, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is a comedic space opera, IRON MAN 4 could be a political superhero thriller. If IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF SHEILD is adapted, the film could take a similar approach to the hit Vertigo comic EX MACHINA, which centers on the Mayor of New York who is also a retired superhero. There is a lot of material to mine here: Stark dealing with political issues, his attempts to resuscitate SHIELD after being compromised by Hydra, and dealing with whichever one and done Marvel villain the film’s writers choose to challenge Iron Man.

5. Pepper Potts: Rescue

Pepper Pots as Rescue

The masterpiece that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe has few issues that go beyond fan boy nitpicks. However, one of the serious issues that plagues the films is how they handle female representation. It’s no secret that the current lineup of MCU heroes is a unbalanced gender-wise. This can be attributed to Marvel Studios not having the rights to many of their more notable female superheroes. During the Matt Fraction/Salvador Larroca run called THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, we get to see Virginia “Pepper” Potts don some armor of her own (designed by Tony, of course) and become a super-heroine by the name of Rescue. Pepper Potts stays true to her superhero name by only using it to save and rescue people in danger. However, she wouldn’t be able to engage in battle if she tried. This is by design; Tony deliberately left the armor without weaponry. The use of Rescue in IRON MAN 4 would provide a nice return for Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts while adding some gender diversity to the superhero ensemble that populate the MCU. Pepper Potts as Rescue would also provide a great contrast to the quick witted almost cynical heroism that we usually get with Tony Stark. Rescue would be more of a traditional hero dedicated to doing the right thing as opposed to a flawed person with demons trying their best to make up for sins of the past. Including Rescue in IRON MAN 4 would allow the filmmakers to explore the decision behind becoming a superhero more. Considering Tony has been Iron Man for a number of years and is possibly jaded, Pepper can lend a fresh perspective to the hero life. There are other also aspects of the Fraction/Larocca run that I would love to see make it into IRON MAN 4, such as the bleeding edge armor or Tony’s new company Stark Resilient, but Rescue seems like the most logical and significant addition to the film canon.

READ: Go back and check out our analysis of the film that started it all, IRON MAN

However, as of right now, even though fans are hoping for it, IRON MAN 4 hasn’t officially been confirmed for Phase 4. I personally would love to see the franchise that kicked off the MCU wrap up in style with some inspiration from the comics. There is so much to possibly adapt for the fourth IRON MAN film. The list above is my personal cream of the crop. Robert Downey Jr. being cast as Tony Stark has to be one of the best casting decisions in a superhero movie ever, and I would love to see him reprise his role in one more solo film to wrap up the IRON MAN franchise with a nice neat, spectacular bow.

Are there any IRON MAN storylines or character you would like to see make it into IRON MAN 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.

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