Back in the early 2000s, nobody would have predicted that Robert Downey Jr. would go on to become one of the biggest, most popular and highest-paid stars in the industry. Sure, he always had the talent to reach the very top, but his well-publicized personal issues kept setting him back at every turn.
RDJ reached a low point when he was fired from Ally McBeal, despite winning a Golden Globe for his performance, after being arrested while already on parole. It was Mel Gibson who set him on the comeback trail by paying the actor’s insurance bond so he could star in 2003’s The Singing Detective, before he ended up meeting his future wife Susan on the set of Gothika shortly afterwards, with his performance in Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005 alerting Jon Favreau to the possibility that he may have found the ideal Tony Stark for his in-development Iron Man movie.
In new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe via The Direct, Favreau revealed that Downey Jr. had already met with the company before, in regards to playing Doctor Doom of all people.
“Marvel had already met with [Robert Downey Jr.] before, I think, to play Doctor Doom.”
The filmmaker is no doubt referring to Tim Story’s Fantastic Four, which ultimately awarded the role to Julian McMahon. In all honesty, Downey Jr. probably dodged a bullet given that the comic book blockbuster isn’t held in particularly high regard by fans and critics, and Fox may have viewed his potential casting as a little too much of a risk at the time for such a high-profile project.