It’s clear to say that Downey’s career wouldn’t be near what it was today if it wasn’t for the chance Kevin Feige took on him back in 2007. While it was a risky play due to the actor’s storied past, he is an embodiment of the character in a lot of ways — even bearing a strong physical resemblance to Stark’s comic appearance.
During an interview with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Downey described that he was “really fortunate” most of his public troubles were in the “pre-internet” era. As everyone knows, a scandal on that scale in the modern ‘cancellation’ era of Hollywood would’ve stopped Downey from ever working again, never mind landing such a huge blockbuster role.
The character of Tony Stark also had his fair string of troubles and issues in his MCU tenure, something Downey described as “the hero’s journey:”
“It’s also a very American thing you know, to build up, and break down, and come back. In its own weird way, it is the hero’s journey. By the way, I can relate to Tony Stark a lot by the time I played him. A guy who really needed to be handed a dose of ouch.”
It makes sense to see how Downey can see a lot of similarities in his experiences to those seen by Tony across the franchise. As the Iron Man franchise opened, Tony was making a lot of bad decisions in life until he chose to turn that around, just as Downey said regarding his own life when he “always wanted to do the right thing.”