Here’s a quick question for you, who is the most important actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? We all know who the highest-paid actor is  —  that would be Robert Downey Jr.  —  but is he still the most important actor in the franchise as well? Has Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth surpassed him? How about one of the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy or a newcomer like Tom Holland? Is anyone in the MCU so irreplaceable that Marvel couldn’t introduce another version of their character? It’s a very interesting question, and one that the studio and actors are no-doubt struggling with internally.

Take Downey, for example. In a recent conversation with News Limited (via Heroic Hollywood), Downey admitted that the goal for him was to get out of the MCU before he accidentally undoes all his hard work from the last couple of films. Here’s what the actor had to say:

Everyone says to me it’s like a glove that fits so well. I have to start over every time but I am starting over with a pretty solid base. I just never want to blow it for the last six or seven [MCU movies] I have done by dropping the ball because I decided to go do it one more time. I just want to hang up my jersey before it’s embarrassing.

While it’s no surprise to hear that Downey doesn’t have his eye on playing Tony Stark forever, it’s interesting to hear an actor discussing the Marvel movies in terms of legacy. We seem to be adopting some sports language in how we discuss superhero films; you’re either Team Marvel or Team DC, every movie seems like a new season, and the goal for actors should be to hang up their spikes before they can no longer play ball anymore. The only thing we know for sure is that Marvel’s upcoming Avengers: Infinity War project will probably represent a major shakeup for their universe, and we could see a handful of new characters step in to replace actors like Downey and Evans when it’s all said and done. It’ll be very interesting to see how the studios deal with those moments when they arrive.

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