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Marvel's Robert Downey Jr., Ming-Na Wen and Jon Favreau become Disney Legends

Disney says the three have been given the "highest honor" it can bestow.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
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Robert Downey Jr. has been named a Disney Legend for his role as Iron Man. 

Photo by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images

Disney  said Thursday that Marvel Cinematic Universe members Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau and Ming-Na Wen will be made Disney Legends.

Disney names a series of legends each year in recognition of their contributions to the company.

Downey is being recognized for his role as Tony Stark -- which he almost didn't get -- throughout the Marvel movies, from 2008's Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame, and in supporting roles in Captain America : Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Ming-Na Wen was the voice of Mulan in the 1996 animated film and in subsequent video games , TV shows and movies, including the famous Disney princess scene in Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet. She now plays Agent Melinda May, or the Cavalry, on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Favreau served as executive producer on the three Iron Man movies, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as played Happy Hogan in the Marvel movies. 

"The Disney Legends Award is the highest honor we can bestow," Disney CEO Bob Iger said at the D23 Expo. "It's a recognition of talent, a celebration of achievement, and an expression of profound gratitude to the remarkable men and women who have made an indelible mark on our company and our creative legacy."

Ming-Na Wen tweeted about what being a Disney Legend meant to her.

"A beautiful letter from Bob Iger thanking me for my contributions to Disney. Telling me I have been chosen to be a Disney Legend. Surreal. I cried because I was so moved," she added on Instagram. "From the bottom of my Mulan heart, I am very grateful for everything Disney's done for my career. This is truly icing on the cake! PROOF that amazing things can happen. 

"If a little Chinese girl who immigrates to America with her family can become a Disney Legend, anything can happen! Feel very blessed."

Also joining the 2019 crop of Disney Legends are Darth Vader actor James Earl Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean composer Hans Zimmer; Executive Vice President of Imagineering Wing Chao, Fantasmic! creator Barnette Ricci, Descendants director and High School Musical producer Kenny Ortega, Hocus Pocus' Bette Midler, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, and ESPN and ABC host Robin Roberts.

Already on the list are 289 other Disney stalwarts, including Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs; Marvel Universe co-creator Stan Lee;  Star Wars and Indiana Jones creator George Lucas; Pirates of the Caribbean's Johnny Depp; Imagineer and artist Mary Blair; prolific Disney princess movie composer Alan Menken; the original Marry Poppins, Julie Andrews; Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz Lightyear;Billy Crystal and John Goodman of Monsters Inc.; and the original Parent Trap star Hayley Mills.

As well as Mulan, other Disney princesses on the Disney Legends list are Star Wars' Carrie Fisher; Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid; Paige O'Hara, the voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast; Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana in Princess and the Frog; and Lea Salonga, who provided the singing voice of Jasmine and Mulan.

First published at 11:59 a.m. PT on May 16.  
Updated May 23 at 12:27 p.m. PT: Adds comments from Ming-Na Wen.