Tom Cruise reveals that contrary to internet legend, he was never close to playing Tony Stark in Marvel's Iron Man. Tom Cruise has enjoyed a long and illustrious career playing everything from action heroes to romantic leads to hilariously profane cigar chomping movie producers. But one thing Cruise has never played? A superhero.
Sure, a lot of the characters Cruise plays are so insanely indestructible they might as well be superheroes. The line between Ethan Hunt and a true superhero is so razor-thin as to barely exist. But in fact, Cruise has never crossed over and entered any proper superhero universe. If you believe popular legend, the closest the actor ever came to playing a comic book superhero was in the mid-'00s when he was up for the role of Tony Stark in Marvel's first Iron Man. Of course, the role eventually went to Robert Downey Jr. and the rest is very lucrative history.
However, according to Tom Cruise himself, the internet legend of him almost playing Iron Man is just that, a legend. Speaking to ComicBook.com, Cruise revealed that he was in fact never close to landing the role of Tony Stark. Cruise said:
"Not close. Not close and I love Robert Downey Jr. I can't imagine anyone else in that role and I think it's perfect for him."
Fans agreed that Robert Downey Jr. was perfect for Iron Man and made the original film a smash hit with $585 million at the box office worldwide. Downey has reprised the role multiple times in two more Iron Man films, plus multiple other MCU films including this year's massive Avengers: Infinity War. Downey has become so fused with the Tony Stark character that, as Cruise said, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the part.
But will we ever see Cruise follow Downey's lead and enter the world of comic book superheroes? The actor won't rule it out. But he does say the project would have to meet his high standards:
"I look at a movie and I don't rule anything out. It's, 'What's the story? Does it interest me? Do I feel this is where the audience would like to see me in? What can I learn?' And 'What can I contribute?' That's how I choose my movies."
Cruise has built his career on a precise sense of what parts are right for him and what projects fit his particular set of skills (mainly, the willingness to nearly snap a limb off for the sake of a shot). Of course Cruise occasionally steps wrong, as with last year's disastrous The Mummy. But for the most part Cruise has great radar when it comes to choosing parts. This year, Cruise once again plays superspy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Fallout. In typical Cruise fashion, Fallout is filled with an array of insane stunts that only Tom Cruise would have the nerve to try. In fact, Fallout has more insane stunts than any other Cruise movie.
So Cruise may have missed out on playing Tony Stark in Iron Man, but his career has gone along just fine regardless. Cruise remains the rare big star who has managed to keep chugging along without attaching himself to a huge pre-existing franchise (M:I being the exception). The Mummy of course was meant to launch a new franchise/shared universe, with Cruise helping sell it internationally, but that effort met with catastrophe. Perhaps one day Cruise will give in and join the MCU or DCEU, but probably not until after the Mission: Impossible well runs dry.