Marvel Studios has arguably gambled on a lot of uncertainties and came out on top despite the odds. They have carried lesser-known properties like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man to great box office heights but Marvel boss Kevin Feige says their biggest risk came at the very beginning and it was the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.
Feige recently spoke with CinemaBlend about the risks the MCU has taken and Feige says that casting Robert Downey Jr. in 2008’s Iron Man was their biggest risk. It might seem strange to say now since Robert Downey Jr. is arguably one of the biggest movie stars working today but the actor was coming over a well-publicized battle with drugs and he had a lot to prove to show he was ready to take something like Iron Man on. Here is what Feige had to say:
“I was lucky enough to be involved in early Spider-Man films and X-Men films but we wanted to do an Iron Man movie. And I do think, still, the biggest risk — which seems outrageous to say now — was casting Robert Downey Jr. It was both the biggest risk and the most important thing in the founding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without Robert, we wouldn’t be sitting here today. I really believe that.”
On top of Downey Jr.’s past, there was also the issue that the actor hadn’t really done a film like Iron Man before. At that point of his career, it would probably be best to call him a character actor as he hadn’t really headlined a big tentpole release of that scale. No one doubted his acting chops but Feige credits Jon Favreau for having the foresight to fight for him to get the part:
“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 realized the risk, I’ve said this before, was not casting him. 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 really is hard to imagine anyone else playing Tony Stark. Robery Downey Jr. embodied that role and certainly made it his own. I really do think that the success they found with casting him honestly led to Marvel making several casting choices that may have been risky on paper but certainly worked out in the end.
Do YOU think it was risky to cast Robery Downey Jr. in Iron Man?