June 06, 2013 at 02:05 PM EDT

Robert Downey Jr. still hasn’t officially signed on to Avengers 2. Contract negotiations between Downey and Marvel have almost certainly been complicated by the fact that Iron Man 3 has become the fifth highest-grossing movie worldwide in history, with a total foreign gross that’s currently only $100 million less than what Avengers made. (Avengers made much more domestically, though. Clearly, only Americans understand the appeal of evil attacking space-skeletons.)

But there’s at least one person involved with Avengers 2 who thinks, and almost kinda sorta insists, that Downey will be back for the superteam mega-sequel. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon said he’s planning to make the film with Downey, and he doesn’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest not to consider a Plan B. Here’s the quote:

He is Iron Man. He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond. I have no intention of making Avengers 2 without him, nor do I think I’ll be called upon to do that. I don’t think it’s in my interest, Marvel’s interest, or his interest, and I think everything will be fine. But I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things. You have to be ready for the unexpected. But I loved working with Robert, and everybody knows he embodied that role in a way no one else can.

This seems like a fairly strong endorsement from Whedon, although it’s worth digging into a couple passages to tease out their hidden meaning:

“He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond.” This could be read two different ways: “He is the defining actor for that character and no one will ever be any better,” or “Marvel has a metaphorical Roger Moore on speed-dial.” Or both.

“I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things.” Or, put another way, “It’s really not up to me. Also, did you know that I once made an entire Shakespeare movie at my house with my pals in under two weeks? I’m kind of the roll-with-things king.”

It’s actually possible to read Whedon’s statement as a pointed broadside to both Marvel and to Downey. Both parties stand to make a lot of money from a Downey-powered Avengers 2; in turn, both parties stand to lose some audience goodwill if they can’t broker a deal. But it also seems likely that Whedon, as an insider, is just attempting to calm down the internet buzz around Downey’s deal. “I think everything will be fine,” he says. Yeesh, the guy hasn’t even finished writing Avengers 2 yet. Anyhow, there are more important things to worry about. Like: How many different young actors will play Quicksilver?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

Read more:

‘The Avengers 2’ without Robert Downey Jr.? It’s possible even if it’s unthinkable

Joss Whedon: ‘I’m not getting $100 million on ‘Avengers 2′

‘Iron Man 3′ does WHAT to The Mandarin? — SPOILER ANALYSIS

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