Robert Downey Jr. is widely known for playing the role of the millionaire, former playboy, and genius inventor Tony Stark whose alter-ego is the suit-clad superhero Iron Man. He appeared as the charismatic hero on the big screens for the first time in 2008. Bringing Iron Man to life did not only help him redeem his career as an actor, but also established him as one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man

One of the very few people who fought tooth and nail to cast Downey Jr. as Iron Man was Jon Favreau, the director of the eponymous movie. Although Favreau was the one who laid the foundations for what would turn out to be one of the biggest cinematic franchises of all time, he decided to part ways after Iron Man 2. He did not return for the third movie and did not shy away from revealing the reason for his decision.

Why Did Jon Favreau Refuse to Direct Iron Man 3?

A still from Iron Man 3
A still from Iron Man 3

2008’s Iron Man was a massive hit with a worldwide collection of $585 million against a budget of $140 million. The post-credits scene starring Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury hinted at something big, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe had still not come into the picture.

It was not until 2009 when Disney bought the Marvel library that the franchise was formed. So it can be said that Iron Man 2 was the movie that kickstarted the franchise. The 2010 movie had a worldwide gross of $623.9 against a budget of $200 million.

Read More: “I played a guy named Tony”: Robert Downey Jr. Pays Homage to Iron Man as He Wins BAFTA For Best Supporting Actor

Despite this success, Favreau refused to direct Iron Man 3. In the book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios (via Slash Film), Favreau revealed how the making of the second movie exhausted him.

“We’re up against it, schedule-wise. We’ve given ourselves less time on this film than we did last time, and it’s a much more ambitious project. This is part of the fear that I had when we started so late; less than two years to do this, to come up with this story. Set it up, prep it, film it, cut it, and do all the finishing touches.”

Read More: Robert Downey Jr Has One Regret From Playing Iron Man in First Avengers Movie

All this rush was because once the MCU came into play, Iron Man 2 had to be released before Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger could be released in 2011. There was seemingly no time for delays and re-writes. This led to a messy script since it was more focused on setting the tone for 2012’s The Avengers rather than making the story interesting.

Jon Favreau Fought with Marvel Studios to Cast Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau | Source: jonfavreau on Instagram

Robert Downey Jr.’s issues with drugs and legal troubles were not unheard of in the industry when talks of casting him as Iron Man were going on. This made Marvel Studios skeptical of the decision. To say that his bad reputation preceded his acting skills which he showcased through his performance in Chaplin would be an understatement.

Read More: Marvel Director Ends Debate Over Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 3 Being a Christmas Movie

Jon Favreau had faith in Downey Jr. and kept fighting with the studio despite multiple rejections. He revealed that he refused to back down from the studios during an interview with the Texas radio station 100.3 Jack FM (via Cinema Blend).

Eventually, he convinced them to cast the Sherlock Holmes actor, and the studio still acknowledges the actor’s contributions to the franchise. After all that Favreau did to get Downey Jr. in the movie, it was truly a surprise that he did not return for Iron Man 3.

The Iron Man trilogy and The Avengers are available for streaming on Disney+. 

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