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The movie world would likely be spectacularly different right now if Jon Favreau's Iron Man wasn't the great film that it is. It proved to be the perfect foundation for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what is now one of the most successful franchises of all time, and none of it would have happened if the blockbuster didn't click with audiences the way that it did. It's incredible to think about how it all came together, and according to star Clark Gregg, it's true potential was something that was actually apparent even as it was being made. The only question for him was if it would end up being everything it could be (spoiler: it did).
Gregg was recently a guest on the At Home With The Creative Coalition podcast, and during the interview the actor took a trip down memory lane discussing his time working on Iron Man. He was asked if he recognized the pop culture powder keg that the cast and crew were cooking up with the Marvel blockbuster in the process of making the film, and he explained how he saw that all of the proper pieces were in place – it was just a matter of whether or not they would all fit together. Said the actor/filmmaker,
As fans will remember, Robert Downey Jr.'s stock price as a performer in Hollywood wasn't exactly skyrocketing in the mid-2000s due to his past substance abuse issues, but Marvel Studios and Jon Favreau felt there was nobody else who could properly bring the role of Tony Stark to life – and one would have a hard time arguing against their choice at this point. Downey Jr. not only had a professional renaissance, but he made Iron Man into a pop culture icon, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in many ways built on his back.
Of course, Clark Gregg also saw his career fundamentally changed as well. Before Iron Man, Gregg was a successful character actor, but namedropping S.H.I.E.L.D. as Agent Phil Coulson turned out to be a massive turning point for him, and the role has been a huge part of his life ever since – not only appearing in various Marvel blockbusters, but also starring on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. for seven years.
No matter how much time passes, and now matter how much changes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it remains impressive to look back on where it all started, and the truth of the matter is that Iron Man is still one of the best movies in the franchise. If it has been a minute since you've given it a rewatch, it is currently streaming on Disney+ (in addition to being available on digital, 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD).
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.