Robert Downey Jr nearly played one of the best Marvel villains in the MCU

Kayla Harrington
A close up of Tony Stark holding up one of his suit gauntlets in Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. is best known for his role as Tony Stark aka Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he almost played a well-known Marvel villain.

When you think of the Marvel brand and the MCU as a whole, your mind automatically conjures up an image of Robert Downey Jr. It’s almost impossible not to as he played one of the most famous heroes ever put on the big screen for almost a decade.

Debuting as Tony Stark/Iron Man in his first solo movie in 2008, Downey helped usher in the Marvel mania we all know today. His larger than life portrayal of the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist for a little more than a decade will forever be ingrained in the minds of Marvel fans.

However, the world almost didn’t get Downey in his iconic role as it’s been revealed that he almost played an incredibly well-known Marvel villain.

Downey almost played to the dark side as a Marvel villain

During an interview with Marvel Entertainment to celebrate Iron Man’s 15th anniversary, the film’s director and co-star Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige discussed how Downey came to star in the history-making movie. During their discussion, they revealed that, while Favreau wanted Downey to play Tony Stark, he was almost cast as the Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom.

Favreau first mentioned this casting choice in the 2021 book Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but went into more detail in his conversation with Feige.

Favreau went on to recall the moment saying, “I remember that Robert had come in for a general [audition] on it, and I remember you had all met with him already for, like, Doctor Doom, or something, on another project… I think he had come through on… maybe, Fantastic Four.” And Feige responded to Favreau’s memory saying, “Right, right.”

Favreau could be referring to Feige perhaps wanting Downey to star in 2005’s Fantastic Four, which Feige served as an executive producer for. But, the role ultimately went to Julian McMahon, who went on to reprise the role for the movie’s sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. However those films didn’t do great at the box office, so there was no third installment in the trilogy.

The Fantastic Four movie franchise was rebooted once again in 2015 and Toby Kebbell took over the role of Doctor Doom. The 2015 version was a one-off as there were no sequels to it. And the franchise itself has been dominant until recently when Marvel regained the rights to the heroes thanks to Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019.

According to Comic Book Resources, Marvel’s Fantastic Four is set to start filming in January 2024 and will be released in February 2025. As of this moment, there’s no word if a new Doctor Doom will appear in it.

It’s super weird to think of Downey playing a metal mask wearing villain instead of the charming yet infuriating hero fans have come to know and love him as. But thankfully, Favreu and Feige made the right choice for the MCU.

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