Robert Downey Jr. is the golden boy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know it. You know it. Marvel knows it. But his take on Tony Stark wasn’t always pitch perfect.
On Wednesday, a 2011 YouTube video of scenes from the Ultimate 2-Disc Edition Iron Man DVD started making the rounds online again thanks to an article on The Hollywood Reporter. The video — early screen tests of the actor getting a feel for playing the billionaire superhero — showcases the Tony Stark that could have been. The joyless, unbearable, and condescending Tony Stark that could have been.
The first half of the footage consists of a different version of a scene from 2008’s Iron Man, in which Stark hits on Christine Everhart, a reporter from Vanity Fair. In the original scene, Stark is kinda charming even in his defense of manufacturing weapons for the military, and he and Everhart end up having sex. Not only is Stark’s charm absent in this early iteration of Stark, he has the added bonus of being a complete slimeball.
After she asks him if he ever loses an hour of sleep because of the things he’s done, he patronizes her by asking if her mic is on, and then says, “You’re never going to get me in the sack with that attitude.”
The ego fans know and for the most part love Tony Stark for is inflated at least a hundred-fold in this version. That last line in particular is so “God’s gift to women,” it’s no wonder it got cut and the character got taken back to the drawing board.
Here’s the scene as it actually appeared in the movie:
The third scene from the footage takes the formative Stark far beyond the realm of being a simple dick, though. It takes place after Stark tries the completed Mark III suit in Afghanistan where, in a scene which doesn’t happen in the film, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (played in the film by Terrence Howard) talks to Stark about the incident. “I disobeyed a direct order to keep them from blowing you out of the sky. Next time, I may not have that same result,” the stand-in reading for Rhodey says. “Maybe next time you scramble F-22s against me I just might not play defense,” Tony responds.
Because that’s what you get for putting your career on the line for your friend: a threat.
Adding insult to injury, Tony later tells him to leave, saying “I’m going to go back to work. See yourself out, you remember the door, right?”
It’s a good thing Marvel showed this iteration of the character the door.