“I helped them understand how great he was for the role”: Real Reason Marvel Hated Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and the Person Who Made Them See They’re Wrong

Robert Downey Jr. would have never been Iron Man had it not been for this person.

"I helped them understand how great he was for the role": Real Reason Marvel Hated Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and the Person Who Made Them See They're Wrong


  • Robert Downey Jr. is on an incredible run in his career, having been nominated for third career Oscar for his role in Oppenheimer.
  • However, the actor would have never reached here had it not been for David Maisel, the former Marvel president.
  • It were the sincere efforts of him and Jon Favreau that made RDJ star as Iron Man when Marvel Studios did not want to hire him.
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Robert Downey Jr. has recently been in the news since he starred as Lewis Strauss in the Oscar-nominated flick, Oppenheimer. Also receiving his third Oscar nomination for his supporting role, the actor has an Academy Award long due, seeing the marvelous work he has done over the years. Despite receiving two Oscar nominations early in his career, the actor recently revealed that he feels he is in the right place to get the prestigious award now.

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer
Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer

The reason was his long history with drugs and alcohol, which also nearly stopped him from getting his critically acclaimed Marvel role of Iron Man. Which brings us to another story of how the actor ended up starring as Tony Stark despite his disastrous past. While most of us would hail it the sincere efforts of Jon Fraveau, it was also in no small parts because of previous Marvel head, David Maisel who helped the actor get his fan-favorite role.

Why Marvel Did Not Want To Hire Robert Downey Jr. For Iron Man?

Marvel Cinematic Universe
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr.’s sad history with drugs, and alcohol, and his run-ins with the law are well documented over the years. After all, it was his father who introduced him to drugs at the age of 6 as was revealed in the Netflix documentary, Sr.. And soon after as Downey grew up, he ended up being so into the culture that it led to multiple run-ins with the law (see Vanity Fair and People).


Having been arrested in 1996 for possession of drugs. the actor later also got three years of prison time. And so it is understandable that Marvel Studios, which was already a studio suffering a terrible financial crisis, was doubtful about casting the actor in such a major role (see The Wrap and Variety).

Even in the book, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, it is stated,

“Downey, then forty-one, had an almost perfect record of commercial failure and a well-publicized reputation as a substance abuser… Many at Marvel thought that Downey’s past problems made him too risky—only two years earlier, he had been on probation.”

And while Downey refused to back down, it was ultimately the efforts of Jon Favreau and David Maisel, who helped convince the studio to hire him, leading to the establishment of the now immensely famous billion-dollar grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe.


How David Maisel Convinced Marvel To Hire Robert Downey Jr.

David Maisel (image via nft now | YouTube Interview)
David Maisel (image via NFT Now | YouTube Interview)

David Maisel, in the long glorious history of Marvel Studios, largely remains a forgotten figure now among Marvel fans. It was he who helped establish the foundations of the MCU we know now. And while most of us hail Jon Favreau for giving as Downey’s version of Tony Stark, it was also Maisel who helped convince Marvel Studios to hire the actor.

in an interview with The New Yorker, he got candid about how the MCU wouldn’t really exist if it wasn’t for him and how he played a crucial role in the casting of RDJ.

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

The efforts of Maisel in helping cast Downey as Iron Man are listed in the book, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, where he and Favreau campaigned hard for the actor. Eventually, their persistence bore fruit and the many fans of Marvel got their perfect Iron Man and the studio got its perfect kickstart in the form of Iron Man.


And so this is how Downey got cast as his most fan-favorite role, completely changing the trajectory of his life, the studio’s future, and the whole of the film industry in general.

The entire MCU series can be streamed on Disney+.


Written by Maria Sultan

Articles Published: 1275

Maria Sultan is a News Content Writer at FandomWire. Having honed her skills are a Freelance and Professional content writer for more than 5 years (and counting), her expertise spans various genres and content type. A Political Science and History Graduate, her deep interest in the world around shapes her writing, blending her insights across diverse themes.

Outside the realm of writing, Maria can be often found buried in the world of books or pursuing art or engaged in fervent discussions about anything or everything, her passions balanced by binge watching Kdramas, Anime, Movies or Series during leisure hours.