Robert Downey Jr.’s role as Tony Stark/Iron Man helped put the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the map in the original Iron Man and his cocky, humorous portrayal of the character has been a series mainstay ever since.
While fans love Downey’s interpretation of the billionaire playboy genius, the actor’s screen tests for the original Iron Man depict a character who may not have gone over very well with audiences, as Downey plays Stark as a fairly insufferable jerk with a dark side.
Heat Vision has published details of Downey’s early screen tests and they depict a much different Tony Stark than fans are used to seeing. For instance, in the scene where Tony convinces a reporter to come home with him, rather than charm her, Tony comes off as a slimy and abrasive in his “flirtations.”
“You’re never going to get me in the sack with that attitude,” he tells the reporter.
A later scene is even more uncomfortable, as Tony basically threatens his best friend Rhodey and the U.S. military, warning that he’ll use his Iron Man suit against them if they try to stop him from fighting bad guys on his own.
In the screen test, Rhodey visits Tony at home after the latter saves a group of villagers in Afghanistan from terrorists. This is their exchange:
“I disobeyed a direct order to keep them from blowing you out of the sky. Next time, I may not have that same result,” says the stand-in reading for Rhodey, who is played by Terrence Howard in the film.
“Maybe next time you scramble F-22s against me, I just might not play defense,” responds Tony.
Tony’s relationship with his best friend has a dark undertone in this screen test and you can tell from Downey’s delivery during these screen tests that he was going for a Tony Stark who was more vigilante with a chip on his shoulder than the aloof, yet ultimately caring hero we’d see in the final version of the film. At any rate, we’re glad that Tony scrapped this version of the character, as we’re not sure if we could have handled a decade’s worth of movies with slimeball Tony.
Check out the screen tests below: