Who Would Play Iron Man In The '90s?

List Rules
Vote up the actors you think would have been perfect for a '90s Iron Man film.

Before the MCU boom of the 2000s, comic book readers spent countless hours arguing about which actors should play their favorite characters in film adaptations. Since then, over a 18 MCU films have been released, and the cast has remained relatively consistent throughout. Many people feel the chosen actors are perfect for their roles, so it can be hard to imagine anyone else stepping into the suits.

While Robert Downey Jr. fully embodies the role of Tony Stark, it’s still fun to think about who would play Iron Man in the '90s. Depending on the '90s actor chosen, the resulting film would undoubtedly be much different than what we're used to. If Nicolas Cage became Tony Stark, the billionaire would almost certainly be a raving lunatic. If Tom Hanks were Iron Man, then the hero would be bumbling and sweet. Some '90s actors were actually considered for the lead role in 2008's Iron Man, and if things had played out differently, the name Tony Stark would be associated with Tom Cruise's face. 


  • 1
    126 VOTES
    Tom Cruise
    Photo: Jerry Maguire / Sony Pictures Entertainment

    In the late '90s, the idea of an Iron Man movie was being tossed around, and Tom Cruise was reportedly enthusiastic about playing Tony Stark. This continued into the 2000s, and in 2004, Iron Man producer Kevin Feige even said, "There have been discussions [with Cruise] over the past several years and there are a number of factors involved."

    While the reason why Robert Downey Jr. got the role over Cruise was never publicly stated, some speculate the "factors" Feige referenced predominantly involved money. Since the MCU was not yet established, creators had to be conservative with their budget, and Downey Jr. was likely a cheaper, less risky pick than Cruise. 

    If Cruise's Iron Man had come to fruition, it would have likely featured Cruise rappelling out of helicopters, barrel-rolling under moving vans, and running (rather than flying) into dangerous situations. 

    126 votes
  • 2
    116 VOTES
    Brad Pitt
    Photo: Fight Club / 20th Century Fox

    Brad Pitt's roles from the 1990s can be split into two categories: "hunky sad guy with long hair," and "hunky angry guy with short hair." His turn as Iron Man would have brought together all of his short-haired angry roles to produce the greatest outraged hunk in comic book history. 

    Pitt could have worn his tuxedo from Meet Joe Black, tossed around some nihilistic jokes from Fight Club, and brought in his on-screen love of Gwyneth Paltrow from Se7en to form a potentially good movie. 

    116 votes
  • David Duchovny
    Photo: The X-Files / 20th Century Fox

    By 1997, American television viewers were in love with David Duchovny. The X-Files helped define the era's paranoia and distrust of the government, and the show also gave Duchovny a chance to be handsome and smarmy, two requirements for whoever is cast to play Tony Stark. 

    Duchovny's got the all-American look, the head full of hair, and he never seems to take himself too seriously in his roles. To get audiences on board with Duchovny's Stark, the film would have to involve a mystery. As the opening credits flash by, a shadowy figure steals the blueprints for Stark's new and improved Iron Man suit. From there, Stark goes on a manhunt to discover who took his blueprints, and embarks on a personal journey to discover who, if anyone, he can trust. 

    90 votes
  • 4
    108 VOTES
    Val Kilmer
    Photo: The Saint / Paramount

    Val Kilmer would have made a perfect Tony Stark, but a lackluster Iron Man. Even when he's not costumed in tights, Kilmer has established action movie credentials. He believably flies fighter planes and plays volleyball in Top Gun, and brings a cold intensity to his role as a gambling addicted bank robber in Heat. Then there's his lead role in Batman Forever. However, the same problem that kept Kilmer from becoming your favorite Dark Knight would likely have popped up in his performance for Iron Man. 

    When Kilmer's playing a billionaire in a tuxedo, he brings an effortless cool to the role, as he seems realistically detached from the troubles of the less wealthy. However, when Kilmer puts on a superhero outfit, nothing changes. His inflection stays the same regardless of whether he's attending a gala or fighting the Riddler. Assuming the film kept its focus locked on Tony Stark's day job, Kilmer would have had the role in the bag. 

    108 votes
  • 5
    103 VOTES
    Mel Gibson
    Photo: Bird on a Wire / Universal Pictures Entertainment

    Mel Gibson's output of crowd-pleasing action films in the late '80s and early '90s is unparalleled. From Lethal Weapon, to Bird on a Wire, to Air Americamuch of Gibson's work strikes a balance between epic conflicts and goofy good times, so it's safe to assume he'd have nailed the role of Tony Stark. If Lethal Weapon writer (and Iron Man 3 director) Shane Black had been on board, the movie could have ushered in the MCU 20 years earlier. 

    103 votes
  • 6
    85 VOTES

    It's frankly ludicrous the MCU never made an Iron Man movie starring Nicolas Cage. So what if he got to be Ghost Rider? Cage is essentially Tony Stark in real life, aside from the fact that he's probably not exceptionally gifted at math and science. He's charismatic, and has the money to buy whatever he wants, all of which gives him a Stark-like quality. 

    Cage's unhinged performances from the '90s and 2000s earned him a reputation as an actor who goes all-in when the camera starts rolling. You know he'd have given an inspired monologue as he watched Stark Tower burn, though admittedly, the movie would probably have gone straight to VHS. 

    85 votes