Robert Downey Jr. Says Marvel Thought ‘Iron Man’ Would Be a Flop

  • Marvel predicted that “Iron Man” would fail at the box office, according to star Robert Downey Jr.
  • He said Marvel left the cast and crew alone during production because it wasn’t projected to be a hit.
  • The cast and crew felt like they were doing a “$200 million independent movie.”

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a pop culture phenomenon in the last decade and a half, but Robert Downey Jr. said Marvel Studios didn’t originally have a lot of faith in the movie that started it all: “Iron Man.”

The actor recently spoke to audiences at a Directors Guild of America Q&A about his Netflix documentary, “Sr.” (via Chris Gardner) when he briefly discussed how “Iron Man” was predicted to fail.

But Downey Jr. also explained that the studio left the cast and crew alone because they thought the film wouldn’t be an overwhelming success.

He said: “Well, I mean first of all, not too many people were thinking ‘Iron Man’ was going to have an opening weekend or do much of anything, so we were a little bit left alone,”

The actor went on to say that Marvel had financed “Iron Man” in a way that meant the studio was already prepared for failure.

“I find out more every day about how that thing was financed. It was basically ready to be written off if it tanked,” the actor said.

Ultimately, the film made $585 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), which is quite an achievement for a project supposedly destined to flop. Downey Jr. went on to say that it felt like the “lunatics took over the asylum.”

He added: “It was the perfect thing where there were not a lot of creatively aggressive eyes on us. And by the time they gave it to us, it was like [artist-owned movie studio] United Artists, like the lunatics took over the asylum.

The “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “Tropic Thunder” star recalled a moment when his costar, Jeff Bridges, was surprised by how “Iron Man” felt like an expensive independent movie.

Downey Jr. said: “I remember Jeff Bridges, too… he was like, ‘Man, we’re doing a $200 million independent movie.’ And there was just that sense that, of course, it was much more organized.”

Obviously, Marvel’s predictions were very wrong, and “Iron Man” has since birthed one of the most successful cinematic franchises of all time.

Downey Jr. left the role of Iron Man following “Avengers: Endgame.” The film raked in $2.798 billion worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), so it’s lucky for Marvel that “Iron Man” didn’t flop back in 2008.

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