“Iron Man” is the very first film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In 2008, filmmaker Jon Favreau initiated this connected universe with a first film much appreciated by fans, in particular thanks to the presence of Robert Downey Jr. An actor required by the filmmaker!
Iron Man : first stone to the building
In 2008, Jon Favreau is responsible for laying the foundation stone of a huge empire in the making. He was chosen by Marvel Studios to direct the first Iron Man. An unexpected film to launch the MCU, because the character remains relatively unknown to the general public. Co-produced by Paramount, the film becomes an instant classic, and appears as a solid base to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This success, we obviously owe it to the talent of Jon Favreau behind the camera, but also to the unforgettable performance of Robert Downey Jr.
At its output, Iron Man receives mostly positive reviews and two Oscar nominations. On the box office side, the feature film brings in more than $585 million (for a budget of 140 million). Even if the film is still very far from the two billion recent Avengers, it’s a more than honorable score to start the MCU. On the distribution side, in addition to the presence of Robert Downey Jr, the rest of the cast consists of Gwyneth Paltrow in the skin of Pepper Potts, Jeff Bridges as the big bad, or Terrence Howard in the skin of Jim Rhodes.
Amazing cast choice
If today Robert Downey Jr is obvious in the skin of Tony Stark, at the time, he was far from the first choice of the studios. Indeed, Paramount wanted Nicolas Cage or Tom Cruise dons Iron Man armor. The first was finally rejected while the second declined the proposal, refusing to rush into another long-term franchise. I have to say that Impossible mission already takes enough time.
This is Jon Favreau who offered Robert Downey Jr to produce. But Paramount was skeptical about this casting choice, refusing to employ the comedian because of his past setbacks. It must be said that Robert Downey Jr has served time in prison and numerous detox cures. And at that time, his rating was not at its highest. But Jon Favreau insists, and fights for Robert Downey Jr to be hired. He ended up winning. A decision that has largely paid off today.
Why Robert Downey Jr?
Jon Favreau explained that he absolutely wanted Robert Downey Jr in the role of Tony Stark. After Tom Cruise refused, the filmmaker met Robert Downey Jr. A meeting that turned out to be a revelation. The filmmaker believed that the comedian’s troubled pasthis multiple rehabs for his cocaine addiction, his drinking problems and his years in prison, fit perfectly with the character of Tony Stark. It must be said that the character created in 1963 by Stan Lee comes very close to this description and remains, over the years, a rather ambiguous hero.
If he chose Robert Downey Jr, it’s also for his ability to improvise. Jon Favreau focused more on the treatment of action in Iron Man, leaving a great freedom of improvisation to the actors on the dialogues. It didn’t take more for Robert Downey Jr shows off to the max. An exercise he loves and which gives even more depth to the character of the eccentric billionaire. But this ability caused some coordination problems with Gwyneth Paltrow, unaccustomed to this way of working. Each dialogue was a surprise for the actress, who had to compose according to the imagination of Robert Downey Jr. A complexity that she overcame to finally constitute with RDJ an iconic duo of the MCU.