During the Shang-Chi press conference Kevin Feige talked about the first big risk Marvel ever took, casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the largest film franchise and the highest grossing film franchise of all time. The MCU continues to expand after the conclusion of the Infinity Saga which took place over the course of 11 years and 23 films. The MCU has expanded into Disney Plus series that continue to build out the worlds and story of the MCU. And the newest film, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings will introduce new characters and an entirely new corner of the MCU. But this ever-expanding franchise can all be tied back to one movie and in reality one casting choice.
The Illuminerdi was able to attend the virtual press conference for Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings where Kevin Feige himself was asked what the biggest risk was in the early days of creating the MCU. Kevin Feige explained that the biggest risk was actually casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, although that seems mind boggling today.
KEVIN FEIGE EXPLAINS THE RISKS OF CASTING ROBERT DOWNEY JR. AS IRON MAN
“We didn’t build it from scratch, there were a thing called comic books that had existed for many, many decades. And the dream was to bring that to the big screens. So, that is what we were doing and I was lucky enough to be involved in early Spider-Man films and X-Men films. But we wanted to do an Iron Man movie and I do think still the biggest risk, which seems outrageous to say now, was casting Robert Downey Jr. Was both the biggest risk and the biggest, the most important thing in the founding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without Robert we wouldn’t be sitting here today, I really believe that. “
This is not the first time Feige has talked about the risk of this casting decision, but the rewards have clearly been massive. Robert Downey Jr. is synonymous with the MCU appearing in nine films as Tony Stark. It is impossible to imagine any other actor taking on this role which proved to be key in building this franchise into the mega success it is today. Kevin Feige explained why it initially seemed like a risk to cast Robert Downey Jr. and how the success of Iron Man shaped other decisions.
“He was an amazing actor. Everybody knew he was an amazing actor, but he hadn’t been an action star. He wasn’t a marquee star necessarily. And we quickly realized the risk, I’ve said this before, was not casting him. And Jon Favreau really had that vision for that movie and for Robert in that role. And that decision and the success of that decision I think empowered us with further risks and further choices.”
Without Robert Downey Jr. there is no MCU. He embodied the role of Iron Man perfectly, likely in part due to his own past troubles, and because of this success the MCU had a strong foundation. But casting wasn’t the only risk that paid off when it came to Robert Downey Jr. A single decision made by Robert Downey Jr. shaped the MCU in another huge way when he improvised the famous line “I am Iron Man” at the end of Iron Man.
The fact that the MCU was built on a risk has been an instrumental part of how the MCU continues to grow. A decade ago when Marvel comics fans first saw Iron Man they likely never could have imagined that Shang-Chi would eventually become a part of the MCU. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is unique in comparison to all other MCU projects that have come before with hugely impressive fight sequences and fantastical magical elements. And without that first risk and the huge pay off there likely wouldn’t be a multibillion-dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe that continues to take risks today.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings will premiere exclusively in theater September 3, 2021. Can you imagine the MCU without Robert Downey Jr? How do you think the MCU was impacted by the risk of hiring Robert Downey Jr. and the massive reward? Are you excited for Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more MCU and Shang-Chi And The Legends Of The Ten Rings.