Okay, look, the chances that Robert Downey Jr. won’t be Iron Man are remote, no matter what hints he throws around. But there’s a piece by Nikki Finke over at Deadline.com that analyzes the pending negotiations for Downey and the rest of the cast to return for Avengers 2, especially in the wake of Iron Man 3‘s success, and the article points out that much of the cast, including Downey, remains unsigned and Marvel has the reputation of being less-than-free-spending. There’s also the matter of pay disparity between Downey and some of the other stars, like $50 million versus $200,000. But with all the posturing — Finke says that Marvel “already has threatened to sue or recast when contracts and/or options are challenged” — and the concern — Joss Whedon discusses Hollywood’s attitude where “the studios have gotten to a point where they’re like, ‘Do we need that star?’ With what they’re able to to digitally and the way they create franchises there’s a little bit of a feeling of, maybe we can eliminate the actor” — it’s unlikely that anything will derail Avengers 2.
But casting changes happen. Hey, how many Hulks have we seen? And Terrence Howard didn’t make it from Iron Man to the sequels, did he? We’re not going to see Robert Downey Jr. replaced…. right? Let’s look at Avengers 2: which characters could you live with being recast, and which are absolutely, unconditionally off-limits? Can you picture someone other than Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury now? Would you notice if Chris Evans was replaced? And if you were the studio and, for whatever reason, you had to recast the sequel, who would be adequate replacements? Comment below. And, no, I don’t think Adam Sandler is quite right for Tony Stark. Hawkeye, maybe.