Source: Marvel Studios

The stars of Marvel Studios are in Arizona this weekend. Several Avengers are at ACE Comic Con, including Captain America himself, Chris Evans. During a panel with costars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, Evans was singing the praises of another Marvel actor who isn’t there, Robert Downey, Jr.

Evans had many glowing things to say about Downey, whom Evans says has been very supportive for as long as they’ve been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe together.

“He’s such a wonderful guy and is so talented, and so experienced, and so supportive. He’s always been in my corner. I’ve always felt supported by him. He really brings everybody in to the group and makes sure everyone feels welcome, especially on this last one.”

By “last one,” Evans is referring to their most recent production, Avengers 4. Intended or not, there is another meaning to those words, as it could be the final time Evans and Downey work together on a Marvel Studios movie. With contracts expiring, Evans doesn’t see a future for Iron Man without the star who made the character a household name.

“He really is so irreplaceable. Nobody can ever be Iron Man. Nobody. It’s not a role like a Superman or a Batman that can kind of find different incarnations. No one can touch it. No one can.”

Years ago, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige talked about Iron Man/Tony Stark being a role like James Bond where recasting was possible once Downey was done. He probably feels more like Evans today, as it is extremely difficult to imagine any portrayal surviving comparison’s to Downey in the foreseeable future.

Evans is too modest, but the same could be said for him as Cap. The secret to the recasting issue for Marvel Studios is to not recast any of these prominent roles, at least not for a long time. Instead, other characters in the MCU (played by actors with fresh contracts) will be coming to the forefront.

Tony Stark and Steve Rogers will give way to the likes of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as leaders of The Avengers.

You can watch the full panel below.