Why Robert Downey Jr. was almost rejected for ‘Iron Man’

Robert Downey Jr. played Marvel superhero Iron Man for over a decade

December 04, 2023
Robert Downey Jr. has been candid about his troubled past

Robert Downey Jr. was almost passed up for playing Iron Man because of his past.

Speaking to Vanity Fair for Downey Jr.’s cover story, Marvel president Kevin Feige reflected on how studio executives were initially hesitant to cast him due to his sketchy past, but were ultimately won over by his charm.

“It purely came down to the Marvel board being nervous at putting all their chips in their future films on somebody who famously had those legal troubles in the past,” he said, referring to the Hollywood icon’s 1996 conviction for possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded 357 Magnum, after which he was in and out of prison.

During this time, Downey Jr. was also struggling with addiction.

He soon got his act together, though, and auditioned to play the Marvel superhero in 2008’s Iron Man.

It was upon seeing his screen test, which was filmed on September 25, 2006, the board swiftly changed their minds.

The award-winning actor would then go on to play the beloved Marvel character – arguably his most iconic role apart from Sherlock Holmes – for over a decade, before taking a final bow in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.

Feige further recalled that after re-shooting some scenes, he promised the Oppenheimer actor that “it would be the last time [they] made him do it – ever.”

And it appears that both parties will honour that vow, as Feige further confirmed that Iron Man’s arc is officially laid to rest, and he will definitely not be making a comeback.