The big wheels keep on turning at Marvel, as Robert Downey Jr. has just signed a two-movie deal with the studio – for Avengers 2 and 3. Notice anything lacking? That’s right, no new Iron Man. So our favorite genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark will definitely be back for the next Avengers, as well as Marvel’s ominously titled Phase Three – maybe not in his own film though.

Both the actor and Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige have refused to comment directly on the omission, according to InsideMovies, though Downey has been hinting lately that at 48, his days as Iron Man are numbered. Feige’s statement on the deal didn’t offer much hope in that direction either: “I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th,” the producer said. “I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond. Or Batman for that matter. Or Spider-Man. I think Iron Man is a character just like that.” Feige declined any further comment Thursday. Except all of those characters have been played by several different actors over the years. So if that’s the fate of Iron Man, it doesn’t look like Downey will be reprising the role, beyond appearing in Avengers.

Check out the trailer for the next part in the Avengers saga - Thor: The Dark World

In some more positive news, however, it looks like Avengers 2 is firmly in pre-production. Writer/director/nerd god Joss Whedon has already started work on a script for the highly anticipated sequel and shooting is scheduled to begin in March 2014h Marvel having announced the release date as May 1, 2015. Meanwhile, we’ll have Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier to warm those cold and lonely nights.

Robert Downey Jr., Jimmy Kimmel LiveJoss Whedon, Oscars
Joss Whedon's films might be  Downey's last within the Marvelverse.