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Kevin Feige says casting Robert Downey Jr. for Iron Man was "the biggest risk and the most important thing"

Iron Man (2008)
(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Kevin Feige has revealed what the biggest risk was in founding the MCU.

"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," the Marvel boss told CinemaBlend. "And I do think, still, the biggest risk – which seems outrageous to say now – was casting Robert Downey Jr. It was both the biggest risk and 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."

Iron Man kickstarted the MCU, and Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark has remained a fan-favorite ever since. The actor appeared in three solo movies, all four Avengers films, Captain America: Civil War, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

"He was an amazing actor. Everybody knew he was [an] amazing actor," Feige added. "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 [Iron Man director] Jon Favreau really had that vision for that movie and for Robert in that role. That decision, and the success of that decision, I think empowered us with further risks and further choices."

Downey Jr.'s time in the MCU came to an end in Avengers: Endgame, but that doesn't mean the end of Iron Man. Two upcoming Disney Plus shows are set to handle Tony's legacy: Armor Wars will focus on Don Cheadle's Rhodey dealing with Stark tech falling into the wrong hands, while Ironheart will follow Tony's successor Riri Williams, played by Dominque Thorne. Riri is first making her MCU debut in Black Panther 2, AKA Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Meanwhile, Marvel Phase 4 continues with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is arriving exclusively in theaters this September 3. It will be followed by Eternals on November 5, then Hawkeye hits Disney Plus shortly afterwards on November 24. 

While you wait, check out how to watch Marvel movies in order to get up to speed on the MCU.

Molly Edwards

I'm a freelance Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for our Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after getting my BA in English.