Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr. is synonymous not only with the role of Tony Stark or Iron Man, but throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU debuted with the 2008 film Iron Man, which launched the franchise into a hugely successful venture. However, the actor was almost never cast in the iconic role. Instead, Marvel Studios was eyeing another superstar, Tom Cruise. Although luckily for Downey, Cruise declined the role because he didn’t think the franchise would work.
In a throwback interview, Cruise had opened up about being offered the role of Iron Man. He said, “They come to me at a certain point and when I do something, I want to do it right. If I am committed to doing something, it should be done in such a way that I know it will be done.” Something special would happen. And as it was lining up, I didn’t feel like it was going to work. I needed to be able to make decisions and make the movie as great as possible, and it didn’t go down that path .
Tom Cruise was one of the biggest stars of the early 2000s with hits like Top Gun, Mission Impossible and Jerry McGuire. Robert Downey Jr., on the other hand, struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, and was even arrested for drug possession.
In fact, Marvel Studios was determined not to cast Downey on the part of Tony Stark. Jon Favreau, who directed the Iron Man films and starred in them as Happy Hogan, fought tirelessly for his casting. In a Rolling Stone interview, Favreau recalled Downey saying he was abandoning his efforts to cast her. However, the actor said that he will still keep hope. Ultimately the studio relied on the efforts of TP Favreau. They were still skeptical of his casting, reportedly paying Terrence Howard, who played Roddy, a higher fee than his star.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now a multi-billion dollar franchise. With 24 films and three series, the franchise is currently on the critically acclaimed Phase 4. Downey was last seen as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame, where his character sacrificed his life to save the universe from Thanos. That upcoming animated Marvel series What If? Will also appear as a voice actor in?
Tom Cruise, on the other hand, will next be seen in Mission Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick.