While MCU fans wait anxiously for upcoming Phase 4 releases like November's Eternals and December's Spider-Man: No Way Home, there is a golden opportunity to look back on some of Marvel Studios' impressive history as well. While some of this comes in video form, like the Marvel Studios: Assembled series, Marvel is also releasing a great deal of in-depth collectible items as well.
Just a short time ago, the studio pulled out its big guns with the book release of The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which takes a deep dive into how the Infinity Saga came to life within the MCU.
Giving a look into events like Tom Holland's first day as Spider-Man and numerous anecdotes surrounding the release of Avengers: Endgame, the book is something that will keep fans' interest for quite some time to come as the franchise's secrets reveal themselves.
The massive collectible even includes a heartfelt afterword section written by the MCU's original star, Robert Downey, Jr., who poured his heart and soul out as he paid tribute to his time playing Tony Stark. Downey showed how big of an MCU fan he truly is, giving nods to many of the biggest names that made the franchise possible.
RDJ's Tribute to the MCU's Greatest Names
In the afterword of The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark actor Robert Downey, Jr. listed off 47 names that had a hand in building the Marvel Cinematic Universe to prominence. The franchise's first leading man put people into the spotlight who were directly involved with the MCU or played a part in making the MCU possible.
Downey started by thanking two of Marvel Comics' late iconic personalities for "(dreaming) it up and (fleshing) it out, sorta" during the company's earliest days:
- Stan Lee - Former Head of Marvel Comics
- Jack Kirby - Former Writer/Editor, Marvel Comics
The star then paid tribute to three key players in the 2000s Spider-Man trilogy, including starring actor Tobey Maguire, all of whom "brought it to life, pretty much" with Marvel's new era of movies in the 21st century:
- Laura Ziskin - Producer on Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man
- Sam Raimi - Director of the 2000s Spider-Man trilogy and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- Tobey Maguire - Actor, Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy
Four key members of the Marvel Studios team behind Iron Man made the list for selling Downey on "the idea of (him) as Tony" before he took on the Iron Man-tle:
- Jon Favreau - Director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2/Actor, Happy Hogan
- Kevin Feige - President of Marvel Studios
- Avi Arad - former CCO of Marvel Entertainment, Producer of various Fox and Sony Marvel movies, including all of Sony’s Spider-Man movies
- Loius D'Esposito - Co-President of Marvel Studios
A long list of actors, writers, and executives followed after the top names behind Marvel Studios' first movie. Downey even included Deadpool and Deadpool 2 star Ryan Reynolds simply to prove that he's "not distributor-specific regarding fellowship," with Reynolds' films having been produced by Fox before the merger with Walt Disney Studios:
- Jeff Bridges - Actor, Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger, Iron Man
- Gwyneth Paltrow - Actor, Pepper Potts
- Mark Fergus - Writer, Iron Man
- Hawk Ostby - Writer, Iron Man
- Art Marcum - Writer, Iron Man
- Matthew Holloway - Writer, Iron Man
- John August - Writer, Iron Man
- Chris Hemsworth - Actor, Thor
- Chris Evans - Actor, Captain America
- Scarlett Johansson - Actor, Black Widow
- Jeremy Renner - Actor, Hawkeye
- Mark Ruffalo - Actor, Hulk
- Joss Whedon - Director/Writer, Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Chris Pratt - Actor, Star-Lord
- Paul Rudd - Actor/Writer, Ant-Man
- Benedict Cumberbatch - Actor, Doctor Strange
- Ryan Coogler - Director/Writer, Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Chadwick Boseman - Actor, Black Panther
- Paul Bettany - Actor, JARVIS/Vision
- Samuel L. Jackson - Actor, Nick Fury
- Don Cheadle - Actor, War Machine
- Elizabeth Olsen - Actor, Scarlet Witch
- Evangeline Lilly - Actor, the Wasp
- Brie Larson - Actor, Capitan Marvel
- Tom Holland - Actor, Spider-Man
- Jon Watts - Director, MCU Spider-Man trilogy
- Ryan Reynolds - Actor, Deadpool
- Terrance Howard - Actor, James Rhodes in Iron Man
- Mickey Rourke - Actor, Whiplash in Iron Man 2
- Ben Kingsley - Actor, Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3 and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Guy Pearce - Actor, Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3
- Tom Hiddleston - Actor, Loki
- James Spader - Actor, Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Josh Brolin - Actor, Thanos
- Shane Black - Director/Writer, Iron Man 3
- Anthony and Joe Russo - Co-Directors, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame
- Victoria Alonso - Producer, Marvel Studios President of Physical, Post Production, VFX and Animation
The last name on the list was simply "YOU," with Downey showing his appreciation to the MCU's expansive fanbase, which he played a big role in building over the years.
Downey's Take On "I Love You 3000"
This afterword makes it undeniably clear that Downey is not only thankful for his time as the MCU's top hero, but that he is also well-versed on the stars and crew that helped him make the franchise the biggest in movie history.
Initially starring in the first three Iron Man movies and 2012's The Avengers, Downey made it a point to honor both his on-screen co-stars and the executives and writers that developed the story behind his early adventures. He even takes it back to the pioneers behind both Marvel Comics and Marvel movies as a whole by mentioning people like the late Stan Lee and the team behind Sony's first three Spider-Man movies.
From there, he gives fans an incredible walk down memory lane through Phases 2 and 3 of the Infinity Saga by paying homage to newer stars like Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, and particularly his multiple-time co-star Tom Holland.
Looking at this list, Downey seems to touch on nearly every single actor, writer, producer, or executive that played any kind of role in his 11-year journey as Tony Stark. It's even more exciting that Tobey Maguire and Ryan Reynolds made the list for their contributions to Marvel movies too, with both of them either rumored or confirmed to appear in the MCU in Phase 4 or beyond.
While Downey is unlikely to return to the MCU, there's no doubting his dedication to Marvel Studios or his gratitude for being a part of something so special. After all, mentioning nearly 50 individuals so deeply involved with the franchise's success is nothing to scoff at, even for someone with ten Marvel movies on his impressive resume.
All of Robert Downey, Jr.'s MCU appearances as Tony Stark (except The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man: Homecoming) are available to stream on Disney+.