Marvel Used Children to Pick Iron Man for The MCU’s First Movie

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Marvel could have chosen to start the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a movie featuring the First Avenger (Chris Evans), however, the studio decided on Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) instead. The basis of Marvel's choice? The results of children focus groups.

Film historian Ben Fritz just recently released The Big Picture: The Fight for Future Movies, and not only does the book offer surprising reveals about the history of Marvel Studios, but it also offers fans a look into the company's decision-making process (via Screen Rant).

According to Fritz, Marvel originally wanted to begin the MCU with a standalone movie featuring Captain America, a hero that Marvel fans know to be the "First Avenger." However, focus groups made up of children revealed that Iron Man was more in demand than Steve Rogers.

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"To decide which film to make first, Marvel convened focus groups. But they weren't convened in order to ask a random cross-section of people which storylines and characters they would most like to see onscreen," Fritz revealed in his film history book, "Instead, Marvel brought together groups of children, showed them pictures of superheroes, and described their abilities and weapons. Then they asked the kids which ones they would most like to play with as a toy. The overwhelming answer, to the surprise of many at Marvel, was Iron Man."

Marvel's decision to have children in the focus groups instead of using traditional sampling methods to choose participants was driven by the studio's attempt at synchronizing merchandise and film development. The company wanted to sell toys with the movies that would be made, and what better way to tell the success of a film than by asking children which toys they'd like to play with?

The method proved to be a success. Not only did Marvel kick off the MCU without any hitches, but the studio also helped turn Iron Man into the center of the franchise.

Marvel's upcoming release, Black Widow, is set to premiere on November 6, 2020.

Read: Robert Downey Jr's Emotional Last Day as Iron Man Revealed in Endgame BTS Video