Robert Downey Jr. signs a new two-picture deal to return as Iron Man

After a period of contract-negotiating uncertainty, Marvel has announced that Robert Downey Jr. will return as Iron Man, for The Avengers 2 and 3 .

Downey Jr. has signed a two-picture deal for the team-up movies, suggesting that we won't be seeing an Iron Man 4 in the imminent future.

Marvel's press release reminds us that the last two films that RDJ has starred in for the studio ( The Avengers and Iron Man 3 ), both sit within the top five highest-grossing films of all time. Show-offs.

The news will be sweet for fanboys and girls across the globe, as - let's be honest - it's hard to imagine any other actor imbuing Tony Stark with the wit and charisma that Downey Jr. gives him.

As for what this means for Phase 2, 3 and beyond in Marvel's cinematic universe, expect the speculation to begin immediately.

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers 2 is set to open on 1 May 2015.

For more from Whedon, check out our recent In Conversation.. . interview:

Matt Maytum
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.