Undoubtedly, actor Robert Downey Jr. played a key role in popularising the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Phase 1’s first Marvel movie, Iron Man (2008), directed by Jon Favreau. The President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige was appointed to the position in 2007 and set out on a journey to create a universe that would change the face of Marvel forever.

Kevin Feige, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau

However, he had to make sure that they built a strong fanbase with their movies, so the success of 2008’s Iron Man was crucial for the franchise. Many actors auditioned for the role, and the director of the film, Jon Favreau, wasn’t satisfied with anything until Robert Downey Jr. came into the picture. Everyone was against the casting because of his damaged reputation, but Favreau had a smart plan to tackle the situation.

Also read: “It’s still my favorite Marvel movie”: Not X-Men: Apocalypse, Oscar Isaac’s Favorite Superhero Film is $585M Project Jon Favreau Fought Hard For

Marvel was against the casting of Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau

Throughout the 1990s, actor Robert Downey Jr. struggled with substance abuse and was arrested multiple times on charges related to drugs including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. The actor revealed that he had been struggling with addiction since the age of eight, because of his father.

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The board members were completely against the idea of letting an actor like Downey Jr., who had a terrible reputation, ruin their franchise, however, the director of 2008’s Iron Man, Jon Favreau, had a strong feeling that he was perfect for the role, mainly because his real-life story somewhat resonates with his character. In a 2008 interview with The List, Favreau said,

“Downey wasn’t the most obvious choice, but he understood what makes the character tick. He found a lot of his own life experience in ‘Tony Stark.’”

Isaac Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel Studios back then, opposed the idea but Favreau came up with a smart plan.

Also read: “It gives you a little bit of latitude”: $179M Ben Affleck Disaster Convinced Jon Favreau He Didn’t Want a Famous Face for Iron Man – Cast Robert Downey Jr Instead

Jon Favreau used this trick to force Marvel to cast Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau

In order to convince the board that Robert Downey Jr. is perfect for the role, Favreau came up with this little trick that forced Marvel to hire him. In the 2023 book, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, it was revealed that Favreau leaked to a news outlet that Downey Jr. was being considered for the role, and fans reacted to the news positively, so Marvel had no option but to hire the actor.

Before Feige gained power, the company was run by David Maisel. He once revealed in an interview with The New Yorker,

“My board thought I was crazy to put the future of the company in the hands of an addict,” adding, “I helped them understand how great he was for the role. We all had confidence that he was clean and would stay clean.”

In the end, it came down to two actors: Robert Downey Jr. and Timothy Olyphant. With efforts from Favreau, Feige, and Maisel, Downey Jr. got the role and the rest is history.

Related: “They have earned the right”: Iron Man Director Jon Favreau Felt Indebted To Martin Scorsese Despite Latter’s Brutal Criticism Against His Work

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 The director of 2008’s Iron Man, Jon Favreau came up with this cheeky trick that forced Marvel Studios to hire Robert Downey Jr.  Read More