True believers, rejoice! The founding father of the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. himself, is coming back to the cinematic universe, and he's bringing Iron man with him. Granted, it's not a role in an upcoming live-action movie, but rather an animated version of Iron Man voiced by Downey, who is set to appear in Disney+'s upcoming What If...? series, as Jeff Goldblum revealed during a recent interview for Buzzfeed.

"Hey. Well, we're talking about it in fact. You know, I hope so. I love Taika Waititi. He's a great director and a friend of mine. So I hope so, but I played the part again a couple of days ago. I went to the Disney Studios and I recorded the Grandmaster's voice for an episode of a show that's going to be on Disney+ called What If...? where it's an animated version of all the characters we know and love from Marvel.

And this episode included the Grandmaster and Iron Man, so Robert Downey will do a voice in that. And Korg, Taika Waititi, had already recorded his voice for that. So yeah, I enjoyed it for a couple of hours. I enjoyed doing that again. So the Grandmaster is well."

Let's get the initial queries out of the way. What if?... is an animated show that will stream on Disney+. It takes inspiration from Marvel Comics' own What if?... digests, which featured new and bizarre takes on classic superhero stories, usually with a dark twist. And they are always overseen by Uatu the Watcher.

For instance, what if Wolverine became King of the vampires, and then went on to destroy the world? What if Thanos became a part of the Avengers, and then went on to destroy the world? What if The Punisher was a hall monitor in a school for superpowered students? Yes, that last one is an actual comic, and it is every bit as epic as you can imagine. We already know that Zombie Captain America and T'Challa as Star-Lord will be showing up. And let's not forget that we'll see Peggy Carter become a Super Soldier in the premiere episode.

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The series allows Marvel to tell tales that are too far out there to fit into the regular continuity. A crossover between Iron Man and the Grandmaster promises to be fraught with interest in the most delightfully off-kilter way. Will Iron Man become the Grandmaster's new champion? Is the Grandmaster looking to make Earth his new home? Will we get hopefully a full half-hour of Tony Stark being snarky at the Grandmaster, who keeps coming up with his own unique, Goldblumy brand of quirky comebacks? Honestly, with these two characters, we're almost tempted to root for their What if?... episode being a space buddy comedy where the two take a road trip across the galaxy to hunt for infinity stones.

But, since this is Downey's come back to the MCU, we're sure the circumstances are going to be a lot more serious and epic. The Grandmaster we saw in Thor: Ragnarok is actually a much more human version of the cosmic being from the comics. That Grandmaster is the equal of Thanos in terms of power and takes a special interest in Earth and its heroes. The What if?... storyline could very well reveal an alternate future where the Grandmaster had a much more direct hand in the creation of the MCU, and may even be revealed to be the puppetmaster operating from behind the scenes pushing Tony into building the Iron Man armor. On the other hand, Goldblum's description of the episode kind of makes it seem that he and Downey only have guest appearances instead of full-fledged roles.

All of these are conjectures, which will only be answered once the series airs. But for now, Downey's involvement is a welcome sign that, despite his earlier claims of wanting to move on from the MCU, there is still room left for his return, right now for animation, but perhaps also for live-action roles somewhere down the road. MCU Exchange.

Neeraj Chand