It’s hard to imagine a cinematic landscape without the Iron Man we all know and love. Debuting in 2008, the surprise hit combined a fresh mix of action and humor that has been at the heart of Marvel Studio’s success. But before Robert Downey Jr. put on the helmet for the first time, there were other versions of the project being pitched. Speaking to Vulture, the man behind DC television shows such as Arrow and The Flash, Greg Berlanti, revealed that once upon a time he had tried his hand at bringing Tony Stark to life.

What was your first superhero project? Was there something early on that never came to fruition?

I kept telling people in the industry that I loved comic books as a kid when Iron Man hadn’t been made yet. I pitched on that.

You pitched an Iron Man movie?

I did, yeah. Somewhere around 2005.

What was your pitch?

There was that movie with Nic Cage where he’s a gunrunner. Lord of War. Marvel wanted that feeling. Tony [Stark] was an alcoholic in it by then. My pitch certainly wasn’t as good as the eventual film. So everyone made the right choice.

While Marvel did touch on Stark’s drinking briefly in Iron Man 2, they ultimately went with a less ambiguous and more comedic take on the character. And as Berlanti says, it was probably the right choice. But all the same, a darker Iron Man film would have been interesting. Perhaps somewhere down the line, they’ll explore more of Tony’s dark weapons manufacturing past. Until then all we can do is guess and wonder what could have been.

Downey Jr. can next be seen as Iron Man in next summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which will hit the big screen on July 7th, 2017.

Sources: IO9 & Vulture.