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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,
From the minute I saw that Jon Favreau was directing this movie of Iron Man with Robert Downey as that character with Gwyneth [Paltrow] and Jeff Bridges, I knew that if Robert was able to show up and, you know, become the talent that we’ve all hoped he would be able to be – you know, with the addiction issues – that it would be one of the greatest versions, the best possible version that could have ever been. And he really, really nailed it.
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).