Earlier this month, we learned that Hugh Jackman’s contract to play Wolverine would be honored following ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. Now, it appears that Robert Downey, Jr.’s contracted appearances as Iron Man have culminated as well. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been five years and soon to be four full movies (with various appearances in between) with RDJ as Tony Stark, but since his contract is up, it’s very possible that ‘Iron Man 3’ will be the last time we see the actor in the role. The latest issue of Empire Magazine caught up with the man behind the Armored Avenger to find out if he’ll be donning the red and yellow once again.

Comic Book Movie highlights the interview with Downey, Jr. from the most recent issue where the actor starts out by expressing his love for the role and the character:

“Let’s just say that the only thing I ever let go of had claw marks in it. There’s a little bit of soul reclamation going on. I feel that the first time I played Tony, I did it best. Sorry! The affinity with Tony now is: how do you sustain something? I’m not stupid, I like to play ball, I love the company, I love the character, and the business side of things, I’m not [too] picky about that either.”

Previously, while promoting ‘The Avengers’, Kevin Feige said that in the event that they have to replace an actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they would just “James Bond it”. RDJ doesn’t appear to be worried about that option and responds to that by basically saying that he’d keep putting on the armor, as long people will let him:

“It would probably be the best thing in the world for me. You know, ego…but sometimes ego just has to be smashed. Let’s see what happens. I take the audience very seriously – I feel bad when I see folks doing movies and the audience is like, ‘Don’t do that anymore.’ I don’t have to overstay my welcome…”

Finally, Feige weighs in with some assurance that though it’s possible that RDJ has the option not to reprise, Tony Stark won’t be going anywhere:

“Tony’s going to carry on. ‘Avengers 2’ already has a release date!”

Even though we didn’t get a straight answer from anybody, it’s still good to know that Iron Man isn’t going away, but it feels weird that there’s even a possibility that ‘The Avengers 2’ could happen without Robert Downey, Jr. playing Tony Stark. Not only was he the perfect choice to bring the character to life, but also the whole MCU really started with him. It would be a very sad thing if he didn’t at least finish out Phase Two.

What do you think about Robert Downey, Jr. potentially moving on from Iron Man? Sure, it has to happen one day, but do you think now is the time for it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

‘Iron Man 3’ starring Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, and Guy Pearce opens on May 3, 2013.