Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane had the honor of being the first villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, menacing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Marvel Studios’ debut movie, Iron Man. Marvel’s inaugural villain was unceremoniously killed off by film’s end, but Bridges says Iron Monger was originally meant to survive his climactic showdown with newbie superhero Iron Man.
“In the original script they were supposed to open my suit after, and I was gone! But then, no,” Bridges said in a new interview with CinemaBlend. “I read the scene we were shooting, and they said, ‘No, you’re dead.’ And I said, ‘Oh…’ Then they said, ‘Well, it’s a comic! Maybe you’ll come back!’ I don’t know.”
When asked if Stane could reappear by means of showing up in a future movie set in the past (along the lines of the upcoming Captain Marvel, which will take place in the 1990s), Bridges said, “You never know. You never know.”
The first Iron Man was famously put together largely on the fly: in 2009, Bridges said the film “had no script,” adding that the filmmakers were working from “an outline.”
“We would show up for big scenes every day and we wouldn't know what we were going to say. We would have to go into our trailer and work on this scene and call up writers on the phone, 'You got any ideas?' Meanwhile the crew is tapping their foot on the stage waiting for us to come on," Bridges told InContention.
Improvisations were made, with Bridges, Downey Jr., and director Jon Favreau acting out basic scenes. “Jon dealt with it so well,” Bridges said. "It freaked me out. I was very anxious. I like to be prepared. I like to know my lines, man, that's my school. Very prepared. That was very irritating, and then I just made this adjustment. It happens in movies a lot where something's rubbing against your fur and it's not feeling right, but it's just the way it is. You can spend a lot of energy bitching about that or you can figure out how you're going to do it, how you're going to play this hand you've been dealt. What you can control is how you perceive things and your thinking about it. So I said, ‘Oh, what we're doing here, we're making a $200 million student film. We're all just f***in’ around! We're playin'. Oh, great!' That took all the pressure off. ‘Oh, just jam, man, just play.' And it turned out great!"
In The Hollywood Reporter’s Actor Roundtable in 2016, Bridges further explained how the first Marvel Studios production flew by the seat of its pants: “We read the script, and it wasn’t really right, you know? We had two weeks’ rehearsal, and we basically rewrote the script,” he said. “And the day before we were going to shoot, we get a call from the Marvel guy, saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no. None of this is right.’ So we would muster in my trailer and rehearse while the guys were in the studio tapping their foot, saying, ‘When are they going to come?’ We were still trying to figure out the [scenes] we were going to shoot.”
Tony Stark’s mentor-turned-enemy ultimately perished at the end of Iron Man, with help from Tony’s assistant (and future Stark Industries CEO) Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow), and Marvel Studios' premiere movie proved itself to be a major hit: the film made $585 million worldwide, launching what would go on to become a shared universe of films that have brought in a collective 12 billion dollars since 2008.
Upon finding out Obadiah Stane would be killed off, Bridges said he was "kind of disappointed... I was thinking [I would] be in the sequels."
Bridges can next be seen in The Only Living Boy in New York, from The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb.