Robert Downey Jr. Was Almost Lex Luthor | The Mary Sue
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Robert Downey Jr. Was Almost Lex Luthor In Alternate Universe

Oh Really?

In a bizarre comic book alternate universe, Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr. played Lex Luthor in McG’s Superman movie. This almost happened in our reality. Read on to find out the details. 

Ok, here’s how it went. Before Bryan Singer started work on Superman Returns, McG was developing a Superman movie called Flyby (bullet dodged there). A younger J.J. Abrams was actually the screenwriter of that particular project so who knows, it may have been good, but the title certainly leaves something to be desired.

That movie was never made because McG and Warner Bros. couldn’t agree on where to shoot it. The company wanted to do it in Australia, McG, New York City because of his fear of flying (Returns did shoot in Australia). But in an interview McG did with The Playlist recently, he revealed a Downey Jr. would have been his Lex.

“We had Robert Downey Jr. locked up to be Lex Luthor, which I think would have been extraordinary,” McG enthused. But his pick for the Big Blue Boyscout is actually much less of a surprise. “Ironically, we liked Henry Cavill a lot, but we hadn’t cast him yet,” he says of the actor currently wearing the tights in the upcoming “Man Of Steel.” “J.J. wrote the script, and we got that to a really good place in the end,” he says of the film, the first in a proposed trilogy. “But I’m to blame for [the film not happening].” While we’ve heard no shortage of superhero movie casting over the years, the idea of a then-low-key Downey Jr. as Lex Luthor is enough to make us wonder a whole score of what-if fantasies, particularly considering his own subsequent ascension to the top of the A-List following “Iron Man.”

McG’s Superman film was taking shape about five years before Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man by Jon Favreau and made a huge splash. That and the subsequent sequel led to the actor appearing as a cast member in The Avengers. Meanwhile, Downey Jr. is looking at a big-screen adaptation of Perry Mason written by Marc Guggenheim, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

What do you think of this what-if scenario? Of course actors have played multiple comic book roles before but do you think Downey Jr. would still have wound up playing Tony Stark if he had played Lex?

(via /Film)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."