Let’s be honest: no one really expected the first Iron Man movie to be as good as it was. It turned out to be a great film that revitalized Robert Downey Jr.’s career, established Jon Favreau as an A-list director, and paved the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Considering that in 2008, Iron Man wasn’t as widely known as Spider-Man, the X-Men, or even the Hulk, that’s simply an amazing feat. As it turns out, Iron Man may owe part of its success to its leading villain.
During an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s Actor Roundtable, Jeff Bridges recalled that he had to team up with Favreau and Downey to rewrite the Iron Man script even while the film was in production! “Iron Man — we read the script, and it wasn’t really right, you know? We had two weeks’ rehearsal, and we basically rewrote the script,” said Bridges. “And the day before we were going to shoot, we get a call from the Marvel guy, saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no. None of this is right.’ So we would muster in my trailer and rehearse while the guys were in the studio tapping their foot, saying, ‘When are they going to come?’ We were still trying to figure out the [scenes] we were going to shoot.”
In the film, Bridges portrayed Obadiah Stane, Tony Stark’s mentor turned nemesis, and the first real villain in the MCU. His performance was also one of the highlights of the movie. Given the level of involvement that Bridges, Favreau, and Downey had with the script, that may explain why none of Marvel’s subsequent movies have completely captured the tone of the first Iron Man. To be clear, the MCU films are terrific, but Iron Man just seemed to catch lightning in a bottle and its influence is still felt even in Doctor Strange. Without Iron Man‘s blockbuster success, the entire MCU may never have become what it is today.
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Image: Marvel Studios