Sometimes the biggest risks lead to the biggest rewards, and according to Kevin Feige, Robert Downey Jr was the gamble that would open the doors for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During an interview with CinemaBlend, Feige revealed how casting the actor as Tony Stark was the studio’s biggest risk to date.
The MCU has been around for over 13 years, and as we move into Marvel Phase 4 and all its imminent multiverse crossover glory, everyone knows that Marvel Studios is no stranger when it comes to making bold decisions. But Feige says that Jon Favreau’s 2008 action movie, Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr, still takes the cake in terms of Marvel’s riskiest cinematic choices.
In the mid-2000s, Marvel started considering taking control of their creative projects, slowly breaking away from Sony and Fox, who were collaborators on properties like X-Men and Spider-Man. Iron Man was announced to be the company’s break away from other production studios, and the hero that would help usher in a new era of Marvel films.
Favreau was known as an indie director at the time, and Robert Downey Jr was in the process of rebuilding his acting career after his public battle with substance addiction. All these factors made Iron Man a massive gamble for Marvel. However, it would pay off, as Downey shined in the role, and Iron Man would go on to be one of the studio’s most popular movies – becoming the eighth highest-grossing film of 2008.
“He was an amazing actor. Everybody knew he was an amazing actor. But he hadn’t been an action star. He wasn’t a marquee star, necessarily. And we quickly realised the risk, I’ve said this before, was not casting him,” Feige said. “And Jon Favreau really had that vision for that movie and for Robert in that role. That decision, and the success of that decision, I think, empowered us with further risks and further choices.”
It’s funny to think of anyone else playing Iron Man after Downey Jr, and it is shocking to hear that he almost didn’t get the part. Currently, Iron Man is no longer in the MCU. However, Don Cheadle is still playing War Machine, with Armor Wars due on Disney Plus sometime in the near future, and Ironheart is set to appear in Black Panther 2 next year.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is due in theatres on July 8, 2022.