Jon Favreau Says Robert Downey Jr. Was Originally Considered for a Different Marvel Role

Over the course of 15 years and 32 movies, Marvel Studios has gone from a Hollywood underdog to an unstoppable force. Kevin Feige and his team revolutionized franchise filmmaking with their Marvel Cinematic Universe concept, providing interlocking content that keeps the studio’s loyal fans satiated all year round. The studio has grown into an entertainment behemoth, but it all started with one risky movie: Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man.”

In a new conversation posted on Marvel’s official YouTube channel, Favreau and Feige celebrated the 15th anniversary of “Iron Man” by sitting down to discuss the film’s legacy. Naturally, the conversation quickly turned to the topic of casting Robert Downey Jr.

Much has been made of Marvel’s decision to gamble on Downey and give him a comeback role after years of publicly battling addiction. But Favreau revealed that the Marvel team had been looking to work with the actor long before the “Iron Man” role opened up. He explained that Feige and his team had already met with Downey about other roles — including an iconic villain.

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

Both men explained that once Downey had signed on to play Tony Stark, everything else about the movie seemed to fall into place.

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

Marvel’s reputation as a Hollywood juggernaut that’s too big to fail makes it easy to forget what a risky proposition the Marvel Cinematic Universe was at one point. Feige reminded fans that several of the studio’s earliest projects did not meet expectations. He credited Downey’s star power with keeping the brand alive during periods of uncertainty.

“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].”

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