Why Marvel Didn't Want to Cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of charismatic, loveable characters. From Chris Evans’ portrayal of the admirable Captain America, to Chris Pratt’s goofy Star-Lord, the actors behind our favorite superheroes all bring a unique style to their roles. And arguably the best is Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, whose film began the MCU Phase One.

But before Downey Jr. played Tony Stark for the first time in 2008, Marvel actually did not want him to be cast. This is because before he was known for the MCU role, he was known for his extremely negative public image. The star was reportedly considered a risk to the studio, as his past involved drug and alcohol use, partying, and multiple arrests.


According to Jon Favreau, who directed Iron Man and Iron Man 2, he really had to fight for Downey Jr., who was rejected by the studio multiple times. "It was my job as a director to show that it was the best choice creatively…and now the Marvel Universe is the biggest franchise in film history,” Favreau once shared.

“Everybody knew he was talented,” Favreau continued. “Certainly by studying the Iron Man role and developing that script I realized that the character seemed to line-up with Robert in all the good and bad ways. And the story of Iron Man was really the story of Robert’s career.”


Favreau clearly had good reason to push for Downey Jr.’s casting, as he’s arguably the best actor in the MCU, and now is the third highest-paid actor in the world.

This article also appears on Mental Floss.