From the beginning, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been loaded with incredibly talented actors playing its most iconic superheroes, as well as those unforgettable and nuanced villains. That all started back in 2008 when Iron Man blasted its way into theaters and launched the franchise, while also giving its star, Robert Downey Jr., a shot an even bigger career. Even though Downey’s Tony Stark has become one of the most beloved heroes in superhero movie history, another icon of the industry was once attached to portray the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist…and that man was Tom Cruise.
The story of Tom Cruise’s involvement with the MCU goes back nearly 20 years, well before Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios changed the superhero movie landscape, and even longer before the Top Gun: Maverick actor was rumored to be playing Supreme Iron Man in the cameo-heavy Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. With all this history, some might be wondering what Cruise himself has had to say about one of the biggest “what ifs” in cinematic history.
The list of actors who almost played Marvel characters is full of some of today’s most recognizable faces (and voices), and at the top is Tom Cruise. Back in 2006, we covered some of the speculation surrounding the ageless actor portraying Tony Stark in the yet-to-launch Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to multiple reports at the time (most of which have been lost to time in the ever-changing internet since then) Cruise was rumored to have been interested in playing Iron Man as far back as 2004, when Jon Favreau first came aboard to direct the movie.
With Paramount Pictures producing the film, it made sense to have one of the studio’s biggest stars front and center. However, it just wasn’t meant to be and the role went to Robert Downey Jr.
Even though there was speculation that Tom Cruise would be leading the Iron Man movie in 2006, the actor expressed his doubts about the project over a year earlier when he was asked about the long-rumored project. During a visit to the War of the Worlds set in February 2005, IGN asked Cruise about the prospect of playing Tony Stark and if the movie would ever come to fruition, to which he replied:
Later on in the interview, Cruise explained that he has never made a movie just to make a movie and that he needed to be interested in the story. When it came to Iron Man he said it just wasn’t “panning out” as of yet. But this wouldn’t be the first time Cruise was attached to portray Iron Man nor was it the last time he would speak on the matter.
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