Marvel Studios Offered Clive Owen the Iron Man Role

Clive Owen in front of Iron Man flying from the first MCU film.

Before Robert Downey Jr. became Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, the film that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the part was turned down by Clive Owen.

Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, revealed the casting that almost was in a commencement speech he gave for the University of Southern California’s graduation ceremony on Friday, May 12, as reported by The Direct. Feige reminisced about the pressure of finding the right actor to lead Iron Man, saying, “And it was not an easy task, but together with my team and our casting directors and our director, Jon Favreau, we culled down our list, we pinpointed the right guy, and we extended an offer to our top choice – an actor who checked all of those boxes and who we were confident would be a huge hit.” The plot twist in the address came next: “And his name, of course, was Clive Owen. He passed. He was not interested.”


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Iron Man was considered an extremely risky project during its development, as the first Marvel film from the studio, featuring a lesser-known character from the comics. “Being our first Marvel film out of the gate, the stakes could not have been higher,” Feige told his audience. “The success of the film and the future of our entire studio rested on the shoulders of this one person.”

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Of course, the movie turned out to be a smash hit, making a mega-star out of Downey and a household name of Iron Man, as well as forging the biggest interconnected universe in cinematic history. Feige brought home the moral of his story saying, “And that is the unwritten rule of life. Not getting your first choice might just be the greatest thing that can happen to you. Because you know what’s better than getting your first choice? Getting the right choice. And in our case, of course, that choice was Robert Downey Jr., and the first movie we ever made as a studio ended up being one of the best-reviewed and highest-grossing movies of the year.”

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Owen, who had been known for films like Children of Men and Sin City, has continued with his successful Hollywood career since turning down Iron Man. Downey went on to star in 10 MCU movies, finally retiring from the role via an emotional death scene in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Fans everywhere would agree with Feige that the actor was ultimately the right choice, admirably handling the weight of the studio’s future on his shoulders.

Iron Man and many other movies from the MCU are available to stream now on Disney+.

Source: The Direct


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