Joss Whedon: No 'Avengers 2' Without Robert Downey Jr.

[caption id="attachment_141835" align="alignleft" width="300"]Joss Whedon Getty Images[/caption]

Robert Downey Jr. isn't signed up for any more sequels, but his director definitely wants him back for "Marvel's The Avengers 2."

Last month, Downey, his producing partner/wife Susan Downey, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, Disney Studios boss Alan Horn and "Iron Man 3" director Shane Black sat down to lunch to celebrate their latest box-office bonanza, but also ostensibly to talk about Downey's deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

There's nothing on the books concerning Downey and "Iron Man 4" and he's reportedly still in negotiations about a second and third Avengers movie.

In an interview promoting his Shakespeare passion project, "Much Ado About Nothing," the man who helped carry "The Avengers" to over $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales didn't mince words about Downey's potential return.

"He is Iron Man," director Joss Whedon told The Daily Beast. "He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond."

It's an interesting comparison, considering that no less than five actors succeeded Connery as 007.

But nevertheless, the man behind the upcoming "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." TV spinoff series remains optimistic he'll get his wish.

"I have no intention of making 'Avengers 2' without him, nor do I think I’ll be called upon to do that. I don’t think it’s in my interest, Marvel’s interest, or his interest, and I think everything will be fine. But I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things. You have to be ready for the unexpected. But I loved working with Robert, and everybody knows he embodied that role in a way no one else can. The day he was cast, I went up to Kevin Feige and said, 'You brilliant son of a bitch.'"

Whatever happens, Marvel has made it clear that all of the actors who've donned costumes for their various franchises are replaceable. Remember when the conversation broke down between Edward Norton and Marvel about returning as Hulk for "The Avengers?" To say nothing of the fact that Eric Bana preceded him as Bruce Banner. How about when the Oscar-nominated Terrence Howard asked for more money to return for "Iron Man 2," only to be handed his walking papers and replaced with the Oscar-nominated Don Cheadle?

One thing we do know about "The Avengers 2" is that Whedon, who rose to fame as the show-runner and creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and later launched the similarly girl power-themed "Dollhouse," wants to see more women kicking butt in costume. He's already confirmed that The Scarlet Witch will make her cinematic debut in his sequel. Why haven't there been more before now? "Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, 'You see? It can’t be done.'" Whedon groused in the same interview, presumably referencing Halle Berry's abysmal "Catwoman" and perhaps 1984's camp classic, "Supergirl," both characters from the DC Universe."

It’s stupid, and I’m hoping 'The Hunger Games' will lead to a paradigm shift," he continued. "It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched 'The Avengers' and was like, 'My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,' and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: 'If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.'"

"Marvel's The Avengers 2" has a release date of May 1, 2015, so the lawyers had better  hurry up with all of that paperwork.