In the realm of comic book movies, few actors have become quite as inextricable from their roles quite like Robert Downey Jr. The actor -- once a controversial choice for the role of Tony Stark -- has become an instant icon during his tenure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he will undoubtedly prove nearly impossible to recast if (and when) he steps down. However, it turns out that another actor nearly took his place from the very beginning. It seems that, early on in Iron Man's development, Jon Favreau expressed interest in possibly giving the role of Tony Stark to Sam Rockwell.

In a somewhat older interview with The A.V. Club that has started to make the rounds again thanks to Reddit, Sam Rockwell explained that he was actually in the running to portray Tony Stark during the early stages of Iron Man's development. Jon Favreau approached him about potentially screen testing as the titular billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist, and was ready to offer him the chance to audition for the role of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first hero. Let that revelation sink in for a brief moment.

Sam Rockwell Justin Hammer Iron Man 2

As you already know, that didn't pan out. Robert Downey Jr. eventually beat Rockwell to the punch and absolutely knocked it out of the park in his own audition. I would almost call it a missed opportunity if Robert Downey Jr. wasn't so damn good as Stark. It's a screen test that has actually become legendary online for how quickly and easily he slipped into the role. Check it out below to see for yourself:

Jon Favreau clearly saw something in Sam Rockwell, because he eventually returned to the actor two years later for the role of smarmy industrialist Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2. If you ever wonder what Sam Rockwell's Tony Stark could've looked like, then look no further than Hammer; apparently Favreau and Rockwell approached the villain by crafting him as a sleazy mirror image of Stark -- albeit with less charisma and worse tech. In the end everything may have worked out for the best; although Iron Man 2 is generally considered a weak moment for the MCU, Rockwell's Justin Hammer is undoubtedly one of its best qualities.

What are your thoughts on this revelation? Do you think Sam Rockwell would've made a good choice for Tony Stark, or do you think he's far better as a villain like Justin Hammer? Let us know what you think in the comments section to keep this conversation going!

CinemaBlend will bring you all of the latest and greatest Marvel news as more information becomes available to us. Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark will make his next appearance during the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which will hit theaters on July 7, 2017.

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