Did Joaquin Phoenix Turn Down The Chance To Play Marvel’s Iron Man?

Joaquin Phoenix’s name has been in and out of circulation for the lead role in Marvel Studios’ forthcoming Doctor Strange feature, but it turns out that that might not have been the first superhero role offered to Phoenix. Even before the Doctor Strange talks reportedly fell apart, Phoenix might have turned down the chance to play Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man.

Marvel’s Iron Man kickstarted what we now (wrongly) think of as a “superhero bubble,” and it was due in no small part to what now looks like the perfect and inevitable casting of Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role of Tony Stark. A new Joaquin Phoenix interview with Playboy(h/t: ComicBook.com), though, makes it seem like Marvel might have come to him with the role before Phoenix turned it down.

“There’s only one movie I regret saying no to,” Phoenix coyly told Playboy, “except the person who ended up doing it was so good and was absolutely meant to do it, so I don’t have any regrets.”

That’s good and vague, and it doesn’t necessarily point only to Iron Man, and nobody would look twice at it if Phoenix stopped right there. He doesn’t, though.

“I’m not going to say which one,” Phoenix continued, “but it was a really big hit. It’s getting to the point where they’re making some pretty decent movies. I thought Iron Man was fantastic.”

For context, the interviewer had asked Phoenix in particular if he regretted turning down any Marvel movies. The mention of Iron Man, though — that is interesting. Phoenix points out that he was up for a part in a film — presumably a Marvel film — that was eventually filled by a perfectly cast actor. Without skipping a beat, he then says that Iron Man was fantastic.

We know already that Marvel tends to set its eyes on certain actors and pursue them until it gets them at a price it wants. We also know that Marvel loves its secrecy and it tends to have actors sign non-disclosure agreements to keep them from yapping to the press.

Phoenix wouldn’t say what role he was up for, of course, but that’s understandable considering Marvel’s tendency toward secrecy. Sine Marvel was said to be recently pursuing him for the lead in Doctor Strange, it could stand to reason that Marvel had had its eye on Phoenix well before the Doctor Strange flick was even slated.

On the topic of Doctor Strange, Phoenix was equally tight-lipped.

“I can’t talk about it,” Phoenix said. “I’ve met on all sorts of movies throughout the years.”

There’s that non-disclosure agreement coming into effect again, in all likelihood. We may never know the exact extent of Phoenix’s entanglement with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alas.

With or without Joaquin Phoenix, Marvel’s plans for Doctor Strange are proceeding apace. The House of Ideas announced an impressive slate of superhero movies set for 2015 through 2018. Doctor Strange is just one of a string of Marvel movies that will make up the studio’s Phase 3 and wrap up with a much wider comic book world, of which Strange is just one part.

[Lead image via LifetimeTV]