With Iron Man Behind Him, Robert Downey Jr. Plans MCU-Like Universe for ‘Sherlock Holmes’

Conversations are underway for Downey Jr.'s third "Sherlock Holmes" film to be the start of a new movie universe.
"Sherlock Holmes"
"Sherlock Holmes"
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Robert Downey Jr. is planning to apply the Marvel Cinematic Universe strategy to his upcoming third “Sherlock Holmes” movie, which is being directed by “Rocketman” helmer Dexter Fletcher. The actor’s “Sherlock Holmes” franchise has been dormant since the second film, “Game of Shadows,” opened in 2011. Downey Jr.’s two “Sherlock Holmes” movies earned Warner Bros. over $1 billion combined at the worldwide box office, and now the actor is hoping to give the studio its own MCU courtesy of a “Holmes”-inspired movie universe.

During an October 5 panel at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, Downey Jr. and his producing partner and wife Susan Downey confirmed “conversations are happening” to build out the third “Sherlock Holmes” movie into a new film universe. Downey Jr. experienced the rewards of a shared universe as the MCU’s Tony Stark/Iron Man, a role which came to an end after a decade with the release of last year’s “Avengers: Endgame.” With “Sherlock Holmes,” a Warner Bros.-backed universe could span film and television via streaming service HBO Max.

“Doing a one-off third movie, we could do, but we do think there’s opportunity to build it out more, to spin off some characters from the third movie, to see what’s going on in the television landscape, to see how Warner Media is starting to build things out with HBO and HBOMax,” Susan Downey said. “We definitely have kind of grand schemes and plans and all that, but it takes a lot. It takes a lot of coordination because again, Marvel wasn’t built in a day. It took several wins and things that worked very well to then be able to connect them, to then be able to branch out.”

Robert Downey Jr. added, “At this point, we really feel there’s not a mystery-verse built out anywhere, and Conan Doyle is the definitive voice in that arena to this day, so to me, why do a third movie if you’re not going to be able to spin off into some real gems of diversity, and other times and elements? We’re not repeaters, we don’t want to just try to do what’s been done somewhere else. But I think the model itself has become much more dimensionalized than it was before.”

Warner Bros. currently has Downey Jr.’s third “Sherlock Holmes” movie on the release calendar for December 22, 2021.

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