One Iron Man legacy is still being felt in the MCU via the upcoming Fantastic Four film. It has been almost 15 years since Robert Downey Jr. debuted as Tony Stark in the Jon Favreau-directed blockbuster which kicked off Marvel Studios’ widely successful franchise. Despite how much time has passed, Iron Man continues to shape the MCU both in front and behind the camera.

Iron Man was the sleeper hit of 2008. Had it failed, not only would the MCU not exist today, but Marvel would have lost the rights to the rest of its characters after Marvel Studios mortgaged them to fund the project. Given how high the stakes were, the fact Kevin Feige cast Downey as Iron Man was a massive risk. It’s worth remembering that at that point, the actor was still rebuilding his career after a very public battle with substance abuse that even landed him a stint in jail. Thankfully, despite stern opposition from some company executives, Favreau insisted that Downey was the perfect actor for the job, and he was totally right.


A decade and a half later, this often forgotten legacy of Iron Man is something that can still be seen in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Not long after rumors swirled that Shakman was being eyed for the project, Feige confirmed it, among other Marvel Studios announcements at the D23 Expo 2023, but that was all it for Fantastic Four news. When asked why they didn’t announce the much-anticipated casting announcement for the film, the MCU architect explained that they don’t want to make any big actor choices without the input of Shakman. This proves that after the success of Iron Man in 2008, Feige has learned to put a premium on their filmmakers’ opinions as to who should be playing soon-to-be-introduced characters in the franchise. Considering how intrinsic The Fantastic Four will be in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga and beyond, Marvel Studios are understandably, extra careful about their decision.

Robert Downey Jr. Set The Standard For MCU Casting

Amidst years of making big creative decisions, Feige maintains that casting Downey remains to be Marvel Studios’ biggest gamble. It’s also, arguably, still their biggest win, since a big part of Iron Man‘s success boiled down to Downey’s brilliant performance as Iron Man. Beyond that, the actor functioned as the MCU’s face throughout the whole Infinity Saga until he wrapped up his arc in Avengers: Endgame. Downey proving that he was worth the risk, effectively set the standard for the MCU’s casting process. Firstly, it motivated them to go with unconventional choices for some of their characters. Secondly, it also emboldened casting unknowns such as Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in Thor. While star power and branding still contribute to this procedure, Marvel Studios has always been keen on choosing the best person for the job.

Admittedly, it is disappointing that there’s still no casting announcement for Fantastic Four. The good thing is, with Shakman already confirmed to helm the project, Marvel Studios will actively work on the project, including deciding who will play the MCU’s Fantastic Four. In any case, if a slight delay in this regard can help in guaranteeing that the project gets as good as Downey’s Iron Man casting then it would definitely be worth the wait.

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