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Before Robert Downey Jr. became the face of Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the actor was almost cast in a very different Marvel superhero role. According to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau, Downey was considered for a part in the 2007 Spider-Man 3 movie.

In a celebration of the 15th anniversary of Iron Man, which kicked off Phase One of the MCU, Feige and Favreau unearthed this near-casting detail. “We had Robert on a shortlist for Spider-Man 3,” Favreau explained.

Though it didn’t work out at the time, down the line Iron Man ended up being the perfect fit for Downey. Favreau revealed he brought Downey in for a screen test and the actor instantly won all of them over with his “spark.”

Favreau also shared how lucky he felt to have Downey as their Iron Man—no one else seemed to understand the character and voice like he did. “Once it was him, that’s when my life got a lot easier because he understood the voice of the character,” Favreau said. “I would say to Robert, ‘We wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for you,’ meaning we wouldn’t have a studio if it wasn’t for him.”

It’s amazing to think of what might have been had Downey chosen to play a part in Spider-Man 3. It’s true that no one could have played Tony Stark as brilliantly as the actor himself—Kudos to Feige and Favreau who recognized Downey’s talent and unique qualities that made him perfect for the role. Iron Man is without a doubt the most iconic character in the MCU and it’s thanks to Downey and his performance that the franchise has become the global phenomenon it is today.