First, the good news: Robert Downey, Jr. has agreed to star in 'Iron Man 4' for Marvel! Considering everything he has been saying over the past year or so - essentially that he can't imagine an 'Iron Man 4' ever happening - that's a major step in the right direction and a huge win for Marvel Studios. But...Downey's agreement has come with one rather large condition. That his old friend, and current member of the Hollywood blacklist, Mel Gibson be allowed to direct.

Downey and Gibson have been friends for years (since starring together in the 1990 movie 'Air America') and the former owes quite a large debt of gratitude to the latter. It was Gibson who gave Downey his very first starring role (in 'The Singing Detective') after Downey was released from prison and otherwise considered unhireable. Now that their fortunes have flip-flopped, Downey would very much like to repay that debt.

After reportedly lobbying to get Gibson a role in 'Avengers 2' (which, sadly, failed), Downey now is working on getting Gibson, an Oscar-winning director, behind the camera for Marvel. He spoke about the issue with Deadline:

Marvel badly wants Iron Man 4 and you’ve said you aren’t doing it. How about the idea you’ll do that movie if Mel directs it?
DOWNEY: Correct.

Downey went on to add "that movie would be bananas" and, well, we'd have to agree. Unfortunately, we don't see Marvel taking Robert Downey, Jr. up on that offer, even if it does mean they'd get their 'Iron Man 4' movie. While it's admirable of Downey to work to get his friends (Jodie Foster included) into the world of big-budget, big-money blockbusters, it's not the type of risk that Disney and Marvel would be willing to make.

Elsewhere in the interview, Downey had this to say about 'Iron Man 4' which casts some doubt on whether he really wants another sequel to happen:

At what point do I feel I am spending so much time either shooting or promoting these films that I’m not actually able to get off the beachhead and do the kind of other stuff that is good for all of us....I’m not 42, I’m turning 50 and now I’ll have two small kids instead of one grown one...

This is not the talk of a man who is very excited about the prospects of an 'Iron Man 4' but Marvel, at least now you know what you need to do to convince Robert Downey, Jr. to return. He's got all the money in the world, now he just wants to help out a friend.

Downey wrapped 'Avengers 2' earlier this year and is currently contracted for 'Avengers 3' to be his last Marvel movie.

More From ScreenCrush