Source: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey, Jr. has signed on the dotted line to reprise the role of Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, in Spider-Man: Homecoming according to The Hollywood Reporter. There has been no official comment from Marvel Studios or distributor Sony Pictures, but an announcement probably isn’t far off since Downey already teased his involvement in Homecoming on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

As fans can already see in the last trailer for Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Iron Man are chummy, so it makes plenty of sense that Tony Stark will still be part of Peter Parker’s world. Having the original main man of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is certainly an effective way of keeping Spidey close to the bigger Phase 3 picture. It also feeds into the classic Marvel Comics feel of Spider-Man being able to encounter anyone in New York at any time.

I do not expect Downey to have as large of a supporting role in Homecoming as he does in Civil War, but this definitely sounds like more than a cameo. Either way, Downey’s appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming allows him to keep pace with Hugh Jackman for the most cinematic appearances by an actor playing the same superhero. Captain America: Civil War is Downey’s seventh turn as Tony Stark, while Jackman has played Wolverine in seven films for the X-Men franchise.

Jackman is currently set to make his eighth and final appearance as Wolverine in next year’s Wolverine 3. Downey would tie Jackman again with Homecoming, unless of course Jackman makes a surprise appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse next month. In that case, Jackman would retire as the record holder with nine turns as one comic book character, but Downey would presumably catch and then surpass him in Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Part II.

In effect, Downey signing on for Spider-Man: Homecoming sets him up to be the only actor to break double digits in appearances as one comic book character with an incredible 10 turns as Tony Stark between 2008 and 2019. He could certainly add to that between now Avengers: Infinity War Part II and, I hope, just let that number get higher and higher in Phase 4 and beyond.

Knowing that Downey will appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming next year helps take the sting out of Deadline‘s report that Michael Keaton, once reported to be sought for a villain role, will not be part of the film.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts and produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, will be in theaters July 7, 2017.