By Jeff Labrecque
Updated April 20, 2009 at 07:50 PM EDT

Robert Downey Jr. recently teased some Iron Man 2 details when he spoke to and other outlets while promoting his upcoming film, The Soloist. We already knew Terrence Howard was out and Don Cheadle was in, along with Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, and Scarlett Johansson. But Downey confirmed that Garry Shandling will play a Senator who wants to control Stark’s technology. (Hey now!)

We’re also starting to see evidence that Iron Man 2 may be following in the more-angst mold of recent superhero flicks. Previous reports speculate that the sequel will be “more a look behind the mask of someone who says he’s Iron Man and what it really is to become a superhero.” Now, Downey tells Collider that the film’s character “relationships are very complex…and the motivations Tony has and why he…does things has completely to do with his own internal processes.”

Since Iron Manexploded into theaters last May, gritty crusaders like the Dark Knightand the Watchmen have annihilated the once-cartoonish world ofcinematic superheroes — with varying box-office results. A similarlybrooding Wolverine, amazingly, has this entire summer to himself, sowhen Iron Man 2 hits theaters on May 7, 2010, Tony Stark willencounter very different tastes and expectations, and it will be interesting to see how director Jon Favreau and his creative team will adapt Iron Man to the post-Dark Knight world. How will savvyaudiences receive a hero who brazenly flaunts his abilities rather thanbe tortured by them?

Downey was relatively tight-lipped, though he did allow that the sequel would be “risky” and “artistic.” But I worry that too much such tampering might ruin what we loved about Downey’s Stark in the first place: his frivolous joie de vivre and the brashness to look into the camera and say, “I am Iron Man.”

What do you hope to see, PopWatchers? Will Iron Man 2 be dark? Too dark? Can Downey singlehandedly reverse the superhero trend, or does every crusader now have to tackle his own self-loathing?

addCredit(“Zade Rosenthal”)