“We were both really hungry”: Robert Downey Jr.’s Addiction Wasn’t the Only Obstacle That Jon Favreau Was Concerned About Before Iron Man

One of RDJ's best works that failed to make it big upon its release made Iron Man a bigger risk for both the actor and the studios.

“We were both really hungry”: Robert Downey Jr.’s Addiction Wasn’t the Only Obstacle That Jon Favreau Was Concerned About Before Iron Man


  • Apart from his addiction, the box-office failure of his 2005 buddy comedy made Iron Man a far bigger risk for Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau.
  • Taking the risk paid off exponentially, making Downey Jr. one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
  • Despite its underwhelming box-office reception, doing Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a freeing experience for RDJ, in which he arguably delivered his best performance to date.
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The foundation of the multi-billion-dollar mega-franchise was a gamble taken by Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau in 2008. While Downey Jr. has gone on to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood following his decade-long part in building the MCU into the industry giant it is now, things before Marvel weren’t pretty good for the actor.


Having spent much of the ’90s and early ’00s in controversy following his drug addiction, the Oppenheimer Star wasn’t exactly seen as the favorite choice to star in superhero movies. But apart from his addiction, his movies post-recovery weren’t hitting the mark, further making Iron Man a huge risk.

Also read: 5 Non-Christmas Movies That Are Actually the Greatest Christmas Movies Ever – Ranked

Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man

Box-Office Failures Pushed Robert Downey Jr. And Jon Favreau to Take the Risk

Prior to Iron Man, both Robert Downey Jr‘s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Jon Favreau‘s Zathura hit the big screens around the same time period, but both of them failed to make it big. But this failure further pushed the duo to take the risk with Iron Man, with Favreau, impressed by Downey Jr’s performance in KKBB, one of the actor’s best works to date, decided to hire him as Tony Stark.

Downey recounted the situation while speaking to Vanity Fair, stating,

“Jon Favreau, his film Zathura and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang came out on the same weekend and tanked. And I think we were both really hungry to try to reestablish ourselves as a formidable duo, albeit individually. Again, just like Attenborough, his endorsement of me to play that character, and then Kevin Feige having the wherewithal to say, ‘OK bit of a risk, let’s do it, we like risk.’”

And to say that the risk paid off would be a huge understatement, as Iron Man marked the beginning of MCU, which went on to dominate world cinema for the entirety of the last decade.


Also read: Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America Battle Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in Avengers vs X-Men Art Ahead of Secret Wars

Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man (2008)

Doing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Was Freeing for Robert Downey Jr.

Time has been kind to this buddy comedy, as in recent years, it finally got the recognition it deserves. Written and directed by arguably the best filmmaker, when it comes to buddy comedies, Shane Black’s directorial debut is often considered Robert Downey Jr’s best work to date. Black, who wrote classics such as Lethal Weapon, doesn’t pull any punches back with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, whose script was deemed near perfect by RDJ. The actor further expressed that playing a character who wasn’t a fast-talking smart guy was freeing.

“Shane Black is a legitimate genius and he’d written what I thought was almost a perfect script. And then Val Kilmer and I had kind of fallen into this good repartee. And at that point, I’d never played a character who was so overtly not intelligent but lovable. And I think it was very freeing for me because I’d hitherto been associated with these kind of fast-talking smart guys, which I’m not necessarily I’ve just had some experience doing it.”

Also read: 4 Years after Robert Downey Jr.’s Exit, MCU Hasn’t Had a Single $1B Hit in 2023 Despite 3 Movie Releases

movies you've slept on (but really should watch)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Following his genius behind the lenses, Black was once again given the chance to join forces with RDJ on Iron Man 3, which in hindsight, is probably one of the top pre-Infinity War releases in MCU.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is available to rent on Apple TV.






Written by Santanu Roy

Articles Published: 1368

Santanu Roy is a film enthusiast with a deep love for the medium of animation while also being obsessed with The Everly Brothers, Billy Joel, and The Platters. Having expertise in everything related to Batman, Santanu spends most of his time watching and learning films, with Martin Scorsese and Park Chan-wook being his personal favorites. Apart from pursuing a degree in animation, he also possesses a deep fondness for narrative-driven games and is currently a writer at Fandomwire with over 1000 articles.