When today’s generation thinks of Iron Man, only one actor’s name registers in their mind: Robert Downey Jr. Downey went through career troubles as he encountered rough patches involving arrest, rehab, and relapse before he received blockbuster success with Iron Man. His inspiring story really proved that it’s never too late to build find success in a career. The same thing can be said about Marvel, who relaunched their signature superhero films and received critical and commercial popularity in the process.
But little do people know, Downey wasn’t the only choice that Marvel had in casting the man with the iron clad suit. There were other names pulled in the roster, and as much as we can’t imagine anyone else donning the Iron Man costume other than Downey, these actors did come pretty close in doing so.
Like any other production, there can be changes in terms of casting as the business is always changing its preferences. ExploreTalent gives you the five other actors who could have played Iron Man below:
1. Tom Cruise
Like Downey, Tom Cruise found success during the late eighties and nineties, thus building a career that remains popular up to today. So it was no wonder that his name kept popping up when the standalone movie was announced even to the point where Cruise was attached to help produce the film. Apparently, Cruise wasn’t so impressed when he received the screenplay and turned it down. He was quoted in saying, “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.”
Ironically, the script that Cruise was presented with was not the actual one that ended up in the big screen last 2008, since this one centered around Iron Man’s father Howard as the primary antagonist of the film.
2. Clive Owen
Marvel studios looked across the pond for a potential actor to play the American billionaire playboy slash superhero Tony Stark. That was when British actor Clive Owen‘s name popped up because director Jon Favreau had considered him for the role. Fans nowadays can hardly imagine Owen taking on the role, as he does not have the same kind of likable but cheeky attitude that Downey does.
3. Nicolas Cage
Iron Man could have gone another direction if he was played by Nicolas Cage, seeing how the other Marvel movie Ghost Rider fared with critics. Cage is a great actor and can be unpredictable and versatile at times, but sometimes, a certain character can only be played right by a particular person.
4. Hugh Jackman
Among the big names on this list is Hollywood favorite Hugh Jackman. Jackman was riding off the success of his portrayal of Wolverine in X-Men at that time. He was also a production team’s dream come true with his easy-going attitude and ability to conduct his own stunts. But it’s good riddance that he didn’t take the role as Iron Man, as Fox would go on and earn rights to all X-Men characters, while leaving the Avengers Universe to Disney.
5. Sam Rockwell
Now Sam Rockwell technically did appear in Iron Man, but it wasn’t as Tony Stark. Rockwell got the role of Justin Hammer, one of the primary antagonists in the second installment of the Iron Man films. Unlike his comic book counterpart, Rockwell’s version of Hammer showed him closer to Stark’s own age instead of much older.
Rockwell didn’t even need to read the script when he was told he landed the role and had no clue as to what his character’s background was.
6. Timothy Olyphant
Timothy Olyphant has gained fame over playing charismatic villains in movies such as Scream and The Girl Next Door, so it was a no brainer for him to try out for the role as Tony Stark. But Olyphant was facing tough competition as Robert Downey Jr. was auditioning on the same day as he was.
He even spoke openly about this in an interview with Conan O’ Brien, saying, “A wonderful actor, Robert Downey Jr. and I, we screen tested on the same day,” Olyphant replied. And then he joked about the incident ligheartedly, “And I’m still waiting to hear back. You know, those superhero movies are huge! That could be a real game changer.”