Had Iron Man gone as originally planned, a certain villain might have spent some more time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That's the word from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, who confirmed to Uproxx in an interview this week that Obadiah Stane, the industrialist and business partner to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, who was played by Jeff Bridges in the 2008 film, was initially set to make it out of that movie alive.
While Stane was the MCU's first villain, donning the Iron Monger suit to battle Tony but ultimately dying in an exploding arc reactor, that was not how the picture was originally scripted. The main villain was going to be Iron Man arch-nemesis The Mandarin, with Stane serving as a secondary antagonist who would survive the film to torment Tony again in a sequel. As Feige explains:
"As you may recall, when (Bridges) was hired, he was a secondary villain to the Mandarin. And as we were prepping the movie we realized we didn’t want to do the Mandarin in that movie. And when we took him out and made Obadiah the lead villain, Iron Man became what Iron Man became. But what was required is that Iron Monger (Obadiah Stane) had to go down into that arc reactor.”
Even Bridges himself thought he would be back, telling Uproxx a few months ago:
"In the script, the script that I hired onto, my character lives! They open my suit up and I’m gone. But then when we got to shoot that scene, they didn’t open my suit up! I said, 'Aren’t you going to open my suit up?' They said, 'No.' I said, 'You’re going to kill my guy?' And they say, 'Well, it’s a comic book. You could come back. Who knows?'"
For Feige's part, he said about Bridges, "That would be awesome to have him come back. That would be great," and since this is a comic book universe, anything is likely to happen. And with the 10th anniversary of Iron Man coming up next May, plus just about everyone who's anyone in the MCU suiting up for the next two Avengers movies ... maybe?
As for the Mandarin, he was deemed too weird and mystical for the relatively grounded Iron Man, but a very different version of the character ended up in Iron Man 3. In fact, the "real" Mandarin is still theoretically lurking out there somewhere ... and perhaps he's found a way to bring Obadiah Stane back to life.
Would you have liked to see Obadiah live to fight another day after his stint in Iron Man? Or was the MCU's first official villain better off as a one-and-done enemy?