If you think about it, we owe Jeff Bridges a lot. Without him we wouldn’t have the Dude, Kevin Flynn, Starman, or dozens of other pop culture icons. What you didn’t know, though, is that in a roundabout way, we may also have him to thank for a small piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the first Iron Man, Bridges played the villainous Obadiah Stane. Almost a decade later, the character isn’t particularly important to the continuing story, but what Bridges did behind the scenes certainly may have been.

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According to Bridges, the script for the film (credited to Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway) wasn’t quite clicking as production loomed.

“We read the script, and it wasn’t really right,” Bridges told The Hollywood Reporter. “We had two weeks’ rehearsal, and we basically rewrote the script. 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.”

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We contacted Marvel for possible clarification, but have yet to hear back. However, it certainly sounds plausible that the “we” Bridges is referring to (presumably his confidants and other actors) worked with the script, elevated it, and indirectly helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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After all, if Iron Man had failed, there’s no guarantee we would have seen The Avengers, let alone Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and others. “I’ve always believed, since Iron Man 1, that things have got to work,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told io9 last year. “Things have got to work, or people [wouldn’t] let us make another one.”

Now, it’s important to note that Bridges’ statement should in no way downplay the contributions of thousands of others. For example, the universe wouldn’t exist without the ambitious mind of Feige, period. No amount of actors come simply workshop a blockbuster script into existence, so the screenwriters deserve credit. Director Jon Favreau put together a film that clicks on every cylinder there is. And that guy who plays Tony Stark was, and remains, pretty important too.

But come on. Is it not kind of awesome to think that the Dude is partially responsible, even in a small way, for what we now call the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

[Hollywood Reporter via Screencrush]