It may be hard to imagine Robert Downey Jr. as anyone other than Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but director Jon Favreau revealed that he was considered for another superhero project before becoming the beloved Tony Stark.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Iron Man, which kicked off Phase One of the MCU in 2008, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Favreau sat down to look back on how the film came to be with Downey as the lead.
“I remember you had all met with him [Downey] 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.”
Favreau didn’t confirm how far Downey made it in the audition process for Tim Story’s 2005 film, but at the time, the movie rights to Fantastic Four were owned by 20th Century Fox until Disney acquired the studio in 2019.
The director said they ended up bringing the actor in for a screen test for Iron Man and that’s when they saw “that spark in him,” and knew he was perfect for the role.
“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.”
Iron Man went on to earn more than $585 million worldwide, as well as Downey reprising the role in two Iron Man sequels, four Avengers films, Captain America: Civil War and more. Feige also credits Downey for helping make the MCU what it is today.
“I remember on later movies – we’ll talk about them on the 15th anniversary of those – there were dark days,” the Marvel boss said. “I would say to Robert, ‘We wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for you,’ meaning we wouldn’t have a studio if it wasn’t for him. Or you [Favreau].”