Life before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was something else. It's astonishing to look back and see how far the genre has come. Films like Blade, X-Men, and Spider-Man helped make the foundation of the MCU possible.
In this pre-MCU era of comic book cinema, studios including Fox, Sony, and Universal put their own spins on some of Marvel's most iconic heroes. Granted, the quality of these projects varied immensely, from classics such as Spider-Man 2 to disappointing failures like Fantastic 4 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Of course, anything built on that foundation wouldn't have gone anywhere if Iron Man hadn't been successful. It was truly down to that iconic role; Tony Stark was the key to success far greater than anyone at the time could fathom.
It's difficult to imagine Robert Downey Jr. as anyone other than Iron Man. Since his time in the MCU, the actor hasn't done all that much outside of Marvel—with Sherlock Holmes being his biggest movie where he isn't in a metal suit.
Little did everyone know, before the famous actor was called in for Iron Man, there was another character he might have played: Doctor Doom.
Robert Downey Jr. as Doctor Doom?
The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe recently hit stores, and it contains hundreds of pages of new information regarding the creation of the MCU.
As the book goes over the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, the most curious piece of information is casually dropped in by Iron Man director Jon Favreau.
According to him, “Marvel had already met with [Robert Downey Jr.] before, I think, to play Doctor Doom.”
This would likely have been for 2005's Fantastic Four. When Marvel Studios was casting Tony Stark, they were not able to use those characters; Fox had complete control of them.
Iron Man Could Have Been Doom
Robert Downey Jr. as Victor Von Doom is a bizarre thought. It's mind-blowing to think that the casting was even in the conversation to begin with.
It's not that the actor couldn't make a great Doctor Doom, because he'd be incredible, but rather because he is so iconically Tony Stark. With the Multiverse in play, how awesome would it be to see him take on that role one day down the line? Imagine the irony of Downey embodying Infamous Iron Man; it's too great a thought.
Since this meeting was presumably for 2005's Fantastic Four, Downey Jr. would have taken the place of Julian McMahon, a talent award-winning actor who was unfortunately given a poor script to work with.
In the end, it's safe to say that the role of Tony Stark did the actor well, so he surely feels no loss on his part as his career would probably be in a much worse position today without it. After all, for many years, Downey Jr. was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, a feat that was made possible by his Marvel hero.
But in this alternate world in which Downey Jr. became Fox's Doctor Doom, it's interesting to speculate who would have become Iron Man in his place.
Tom Cruise and Sam Rockwell have both been named in the past as actors who were considered for the role of Tony Stark. It's tough to imagine either actor sticking around in the MCU as long as Downey Jr. did, so who knows what the Marvel world could look like today?
The MCU is set to get its Doctor Doom at some point in the next few years. With Fantastic Four on the way, it may only be a matter of time before someone is publicly cast in the role. Although, many fans have historically criticized Fox's decision to dive into the Fantastic Four's most famous villain so quickly, so Marvel Studios may instead opt to wait a few years before casting the iconic Latverian.
Fans can pick up The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, wherever books are sold.