In the 14 years since the first Iron Man film hit theaters, a lot has changed for Marvel movies. There are a lot more of them, namely, and the now-Disney franchise has spawned such a massive interconnected web of movies and TV shows that it all feels inevitable in hindsight. But that’s far from the case, as the superhero project was far from a sure thing when it was in development.
There were, inevitably, some kinks to be worked out with the first movie. Robert Downey Jr. famously was not a fan, for example, of the first Iron Man helmet. But according to Jeff Bridges, there was much more to fix with the actual script than may know. In a video interview with Vanity Fair, Bridges detailed some big issues with the script and some of the revisions that were made, admitting that he was incredibly frustrated by the changes made at the last minute.
As Variety noted, Bridges said he spent weeks working with the original script and making some changes he felt for the better. That included working with Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau to fine-tune the story and script:
“It was Marvel’s first adventure into making movies,” Bridges said. “It was so lucky to have Jon on there and [Robert] Downey, because both of them are terrific improvisers, and we spent a couple of weeks working on the script and rehearsing together, because we didn’t like the original script and we thought, ‘Oh yeah, we fixed this, fixed that.’”
“Then came the first day of shooting, and Marvel kind of threw out our script that we had been working on, said, ‘No, that’s no good. It’s got to be this and that,’” Bridges continued. “And so there was a lot of confusion about what our script was, what we were gonna say. We’d spend hours in one of our trailers going over lines and exploring how we were going to do it.”
All that work going out the window drove him “absolutely crazy,” Bridges said, but he has nothing but good things to say about the project now. He called it the best Marvel movie in the interview, which is no surprise considering he starred in it. But getting there took an attitude adjustment of sorts. And a bit of patience.
“It drove me absolutely crazy until I made a slight adjustment in my brain that was, ‘Jeff, just relax. You’re making a $200 million student film. Just relax and have fun,’” Bridges said. “And that kind of did the trick because here I get to play with these two incredible artists and just jam, and that’s what we ended up doing.”
The proof is in the finished product, which is the film that launched a multi-billion-dollar movie franchise, including another two Iron Man movies as well. And while it’s fascinating to look back at the initial growing pains of the MCU, it’s also interesting to consider what could have happened if Bridges didn’t brush off the initial drama and make the best of a difficult situation. Good thing he’s such a chill dude, I guess.