When Robert Downey Jr. was playing hardball with Marvel Studios when his first contract to play Iron Man had run out, Kevin Feige publicly claimed that the role of Tony Stark could become similar to James Bond, with a number of actors inheriting the mantle down the years. Of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe head honcho is a lot smarter than that, with most folks believing it to be a thinly-veiled threat to try and force the actor’s hand.
Not only did Downey Jr. extend his contract several more times for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, but he continued to be positioned as the face of the entire franchise, and even though he’s got over 50 years of experience in the business, Iron Man will likely go down in the history books as his career-defining role.
However, a recent article claimed that anyone with a degree of wit about them could have played the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, pushing the notion that the character is much more important than the actor. As you can see from the reactions below, the MCU fanbase is in vehement disagreement.
Even James Gunn weighed in to call bullsh*t on the argument, and you can’t help but be amazed at how wrong the original piece is. Before RDJ came along, Iron Man was a B-tier superhero at best that didn’t hold much cache or sway with general audiences, but by the time the credits rolled on Jon Favreau’s first installment, he’d already become an icon. The impact was similar to that of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and nobody could have done it better.