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Movies & TV

28th May 2023

Robert Downey Jr. almost played a big Marvel villain before landing Iron Man

Simon Kelly

Robert Downey Jr. almost played a big Marvel villain before landing Iron Man

“That’s probably one of the greatest decisions in the history of Hollywood.”

Iron Man director and MCU superstar Jon Favreau has revealed that Robert Downey Jr.’s role in the franchise might have been very different prior to his first appearance as Iron Man.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the movie that kicked off Phase One of the MCU in 2008, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Favreau sat down to discuss how Downey got the the lead role.

In the conversation, Favreau revealed that Downey had actually already met with the studio about the role of Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four movie, which released three years before Iron Man.

The role eventually went to Australian actor Julian McMahon.

“I remember you had all met with him already for like Doctor Doom or something on another project,” The Mandalorian creator said. “I think he had come through on like maybe Fantastic Four, so everybody sort of knew who he was.”

But it was Downey’s version of Tony Stark which really got the studio’s attention. Favreau explained that once they saw the screen test for the role, they knew they had their man.

“I remember sitting down with the guy, and I was like ‘Geez he’s just got it – he’s got that spark in him, in his eye and he’s ready.’ And that’s when we were in your office [Kevin] and we were pointing to his headshot and saying, ‘We gotta try to figure this out.'”

“Once it was him, that’s when my life got a lot easier because he understood the voice of the character,” Favreau explained. “And then one by one, people were just signing on board because now it became something interesting.”

Feige added that casting Downey was “one of the greatest decisions in the history of Hollywood.”

The history of the Iron Man movie

Looking back it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Robert Downey Jr. in the role, but it was a long road before he got into the suit, as it turned out.

In fact, the Iron Man movie could have been very different from what we got in 2008. With the project in the works since 1990, roughly eighteen years before the movie released, their had been multiple names attached to direct including the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Nick Cassavetes and Joss Whedon.

Tom Cruise, Nic Cage and Sam Rockwell were all in the running the play Stark at one time too, which could have led to some incredibly different takes on the character.

You can watch Kevin Feige and Jon Favreau’s full chat below.

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