Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige says casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was the MCU’s biggest risk.
The comic book movie genre was already in full swing before 2008, but it was that very year where the seeds were planted for the most successful film franchise of all-time. Producer Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau introduced audiences to the MCU with Iron Man, and the film became an immediate critical and commercial success – much of which can be attributed to Academy Award-nominee Robert Downey Jr. and his portrayal of Tony Stark.
Producer Kevin Feige can tout many accomplishments in his career, much of which was thanks due to some risks that were taken as the years went on. Looking back, 13 years after the film hit theaters, critics and audiences alike agree that no actor could’ve brought the character of Iron Man to life better than Robert Downey Jr. The fact that his introduction to audiences was such a success was crucial to the further success of the MCU, and the eventual introduction of other Marvel characters to the big screen.
During a press conference moderated by Ronny Chieng for the newest MCU film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kevin Feige touched on some of the challenges that came in realizing some characters into their own films, and how the influence of the comic books helped. He also revealed that he still believes that casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was the biggest risk in the franchise’s history:
“And I do think still the biggest risk which seems outrageous to say now, was, uh, casting Robert Downey, Jr. Um, it was both the biggest risk and the biggest, um, uh, the most important thing in the founding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without Robert, there’d be… We wouldn’t be sitting here today… He was an amazing actor. Everybody knew he was an amazing actor, but he hadn’t been an action star. He wasn’t a marquee star necessarily… And we quickly realized the risk, I’ve said this before, was not casting him. And Jon Favreau really had that vision for that movie and for Robert in that role, and that decision and the success of that decision, I think, empowered us with further risks and further choices.”
It makes sense as to why Kevin Feige attributes much of the MCU’s success to Jon Favreau’s first Iron Man film as well as specifically casting Robert Downey Jr. in the role despite his lack of work as an action star. The film served as the solid foundation for what the franchise became, and helped lead into some lesser-known characters such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and now Shang-Chi to take the spotlight in their own films.
Here is the synopsis for the newest MCU film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:
“Simu Liu stars as Shang-Chi in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings. Shang-Chi must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.”
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton from a script written by David Callaham, the upcoming Marvel film stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung. The upcoming movie will hit theaters on September 3, 2021.
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Source: Shang-Chi Press Conference