How Jeff Bridges' Obadiah Stane Became The Main 'Iron Man' Villain

Iron Man kicked off Marvel's current period of blockbuster movie domination, and it couldn't have been done without the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr.'s reformed genius superhero Tony Stark and his mentor-turned-foe Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).

Though the third act of the film arguably leaves much to be desired, it's hard to imagine Iron Man without Bridges. It's common knowledge that the Mandarin was in an early draft of the first Iron Man before being scrapped and brought back for Iron Man 3. But Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has revealed that Obadiah Stane and Mandarin shared Big Bad duties in early scripts, before the decision was made to strengthen Bridges' role.

In an interview with Uproxx, Feige explained the script changes that led to Obadiah rising from a secondary villain under the Mandarin to the main Iron Man villain. And because of that, Obadiah's death was necessary at the finale of the movie:

As you may recall, when he was hired, he was a secondary villain to the Mandarin. And as we were prepping the movie we realized we didn't want to do the Mandarin in that movie. And when we took him out and made Obadiah the lead villain, Iron Man became what Iron Man became. But what was required is that Iron Monger [Obadiah Stane] had to go down into that arc reactor.

Iron Man director Jon Favreau couldn't figure out how to work the mystical — and slightly racist — character into the film, which worked to the benefit of the more grounded, realistic final product, even if the final battle basically consisted of two guys in robots going at it. But what if the Mandarin had been involved?

The MCU would have been much more supernatural and surreal from the beginning, to be sure, and Obadiah might have lived. Bridges had revealed earlier this summer that in the script he had, his character lives, and it wasn't until they were in the midst of filming the movie that the decision to kill Obadiah took place.

Bridges said to Uproxx:

No, in the script, the script that I hired onto, my character lives! They open my suit up and I'm gone. But then when we got to shoot that scene, they didn't open my suit up! I said, "Aren't you going to open my suit up?" They said, "No." I said, "You're going to kill my guy?" And they say, "Well, it's a comic book. You could come back. Who knows?" You know? But anyway.