“He had flirted with the idea”: Marvel Turned Down Tom Cruise as Iron Man Over ‘Addict’ Robert Downey Jr. in Risky Gamble That Paved the Way for $30B MCU

Tom Cruise was initially the top contender for the role of Tony Stark in the superhero film Iron Man

“He had flirted with the idea”: Marvel Turned Down Tom Cruise as Iron Man Over ‘Addict’ Robert Downey Jr. in Risky Gamble That Paved the Way for $30B MCU


  • Iron Man was released in 2008 and Tom Cruise was the initial choice for the lead role.
  • However, Marvel Studios turned him down before turning to Robert Downey Jr.
  • Now it's hard to imagine anyone else but Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark.
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) stands as a titan in the realm of superhero movies, but its inception wasn’t without its share of pivotal decisions and audacious casting choices. Among the most crucial was the selection of the actor to embody the iconic character of Iron Man.

Tom Cruise in the Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise in the Edge of Tomorrow

The studio initially considered Tom Cruise for the role of Iron Man. Cruise was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time, and he had a proven track record of success in action movies. However, Marvel ultimately decided to go with Robert Downey Jr., which at that time was a risky decision. Nevertheless, Robert Downey Jr. helped MCU to build its $30 billion worth.

Also Read: Tom Cruise’s Actual Mission Impossible is Getting Fans Hyped Up for Dead Reckoning Part 2 Following Paramount’s Jaw-Dropping Loss


Initially, Tom Cruise Was Considered for the Iron Man Role

When Marvel Studios was first developing Iron Man in the early 2000s, Tom Cruise was one of the top names on their list to play the titular role.

Cruise, a seasoned and charismatic actor with numerous blockbuster hits under his belt, was seen as a bankable choice by many in the industry. His star power was undeniable, and his action-packed filmography made him a seemingly perfect fit for the superhero persona.

But, ultimately it did not come to fruition for some reasons. And, Marvel Studios then turned to Robert Downey Jr. and he became the face of the studio.

Tom Cruise in a still from Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise in a still from Top Gun: Maverick

The new book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, written by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards, narrates the reasons why the Mission: Impossible star was not picked for the role of Iron Man.

Ten years earlier, when the Iron Man rights were at 20th Century Fox, Tom Cruise, then thirty-four, had flirted with the idea of playing Stark.”

It continued,

According to Feige, however, Cruise’s asking fee at the time was more than even a profitable studio like Fox was willing to risk on an untested superhero property.”

And, thus the door for Robert Downey Jr. was opened whom Marvel executives labeled as an ‘addict.’ Nevertheless, Marvel saw beyond his troubled past and recognized his potential to breathe life into Tony Stark in a way that no one else could.


Also Read: “Tom is looking for a new leading lady”: Crazy Rumors on Tom Cruise and Jada Smith Come Out After She Made Her Secrets With Will Smith Public

Robert Downey Jr. was Once Called an ‘addict‘ by the Studio

The decision to cast Downey Jr. was unconventional and came with risks. His personal history could have potentially overshadowed the film and impacted its reception. At the time, Downey Jr. had a history of drug addiction and legal troubles.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

David Maisel, the executive producer of Marvel Studios, talked with The New Yorker and said that he was the one who made the MCU, though people think it’s Kevin Feige. He said:


Most people right now think Kevin started the studio. They don’t know me at all.”

Per him, it was he who brought Robert Downey Jr. to lead the role of Iron Man.

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

The release of Iron Man in 2008 marked the birth of the MCU and redefined the landscape of superhero movies. Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark was nothing short of iconic.


Downey Jr.’s casting as Iron Man was a risky bet, but it paid off in a big way. His performance helped to redefine the superhero genre and make the MCU a global phenomenon.

Also Read: Mickey Rourke Owes His Hollywood Revival to One Comic Book Movie and it Wasn’t Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man 2

Prantik Prabal Roy

Written by Prantik Prabal Roy

Articles Published: 778

Prantik Prabal Roy is a content writer at FandomWire. With over three years of experience in content writing for various media houses, he takes great interest in telling stories about Hollywood celebrities and the world revolving around them. He has done his Master's in English literature and diploma course in journalism. Being a literature student, he has the ability to delve into the matter and analyse it thoroughly to give the readers a clear view on the specific topics.