Of all the gin-joint frequenting superheroes in all the world, you'd be hard pressed to find one more perfectly cast than Iron Man. Somehow, Robert Downey Jr. has managed to not only mold the character into something exactly like himself, but to actually make Tony Stark substantially cooler in the process. The only other actor who's even got a shot at competing, in fact, is Hugh Jackman, and he had an eight year head start as Wolverine before Iron Man's release.
When a role has been so perfectly cast, though, it can be a little shocking to think about how different a movie - or, in this case, the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe - could have been, had the studio gone a different way.
With Iron Man, for instance:
A Major TV Star Came Close to Getting the Part
Or, rather, Timothy Olyphant - now very much part of the television A-List after years of sterling work on Justified - has recently revealed that he screen-tested for the role of Tony Stark...at the worst time possible: on the same day as Robert Downey Jr...
Yup, that's right - had Marvel decided not to see RDJ, or if he'd brought something less than his A game that day, it's not impossible to imagine that it'd be Olyphant strutting his suited-up-stuff in the soon to be released Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Funnily enough, of course, the blend of swaggering confidence with a serious underbelly that Olyphant does so well, and exudes in pretty much every moment of Justified that you'll ever see...
...is pretty much exactly what playing Tony Stark requires. The only problem for Olyphant? RDJ is, was, and (for many) always will actually be Iron Man.
And it's pretty darned hard to compete with that...
There were also, though, some more outside the box choices who were seriously considered for the part.
The Iron Men We Almost Saw Were VERY Different...
Who, of course, ended up playing Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, which is...really not the same. He was reportedly seriously considered by Jon Favreau back while they were casting the first film, though...
As, apparently, was...
Who, you'd have to imagine, was ultimately rejected for...being too handsome, maybe? Too British? Too obviously going to be 2019's James Bond?
Either way, though, the most potentially shocking alternative casting?
Yup, that's right. Back in 2004, Marvel head-honcho Kevin Feige revealed that:
"There have been discussions (with Cruise) over the last several years and there are a number of factors involved. All we know is that we’re putting all the pieces in place and then we’ll find the best Tony Stark that we can get."
Which...perhaps thankfully...didn't work out.
As Cruise later put it:
"I don’t know. It just … they came to me at a certain point and … when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work."
Or, in other words, Iron Man seemingly needed Robert Downey Jr. (and a new script) as much as he needed - and ended up being perfect for - it...
What do you reckon, though?