Robert Downey Jr. being in any one of Marvel’s new streaming shows, though possible, might be difficult to imagine. Especially given his character’s fate. But there was one early Marvel TV series that Downey was interested in appearing in.
Robert Downey Jr. wanted to do a cameo for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of Marvel studios’ first attempts at expanding their universe into the world of television. The series was created by Joss Whedon, and followed S.H.I.E.L.D. members as they investigated strange events around the world. Marvel producer Kevin Feige felt it was possible for some of Marvel comics’ own superheroes to perhaps make an appearance in the television series.
“If that works the way everyone expects it to work I think that would open up another avenue, another outlet for some of those characters,” Feige once told Entertainment Weekly(via Collider). “Maybe they guest star, I don’t know. I think they’re avoiding the cameo of the week on that show, which is very smart.”
The show featured a few characters from the MCU such as Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson. Samuel L. Jackson also made a guest appearance on the program as Nick Fury. Given these appearances, it might have seemed possible at one point for Downey’s Iron Man to appear on the show as well. Downey himself was already interested in the idea. But he felt that might have required a bit of work to make happen behind the scenes.
“Nothing is impossible. But there might be a fair amount of red tape involved in something like that. I love Clark Gregg, and am pleased the show is doing so well,” Downey once said on a Reddit AMA.
Why Robert Downey Jr. didn’t return in Marvel’s ‘What If…?’
Iron Man isn’t completely gone from the MCU. Alternate versions of the character have made a couple of appearances in the Marvel TV series What If…?. The hit Disney series has seen many actors return to voice animated versions of their live action characters. Some characters, however, are voiced by new actors entirely. Iron Man falls under the latter category, as he was played by respected voice actor Mick Wingert.
Downey’s absence from the feature may come down to the fact that he’s been adamant about finishing his run as Iron Man for good.
“I’ve done all I could with that character and can do other things now. Now, being middle-aged, you start looking at the back nine and realize this is all part of the journey and things end. I am fortunate and eternally grateful to have wound up where I have,” Downey said in a 2020 interview with Hindustan Times.
This may also mean that Downey reprising his role in potential future What If…? episodes would be slim.
Robert Downey Jr. was almost Dr. Doom before Iron Man
It may be difficult to imagine Downey playing another Marvel character other than Iron Man. But that was once almost a possibility. While celebrating the original Iron Man’s 15th anniversary at Marvel Entertainment, filmmaker Jon Favreau discussed with Kevin Feige how Downey once pursued a different Marvel role.
“I remember you had all met with [Downey] already for like Doctor Doom or something on another project,” Favreau said. “I think he had come through on maybe Fantastic Four, so everybody sort of knew who he was.”
Actor Julian McMahon ended up being cast in the role instead. But Downey had a better deal years later after snatching the role of Tony Stark, which was essential for the MCU’s success.
“He was the puzzle piece that made it all work,” Favreau added. “I remember sitting down with the guy, and I was like, ‘He’s got that spark in him in his eye and he’s ready.’ That’s when we were in your office, and we were pointing to his headshot, saying, ‘We got to try to figure this out.’”