If it wasn’t for Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame would have been a lot different. At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely revealed that the character originally had lines written for his death scene. However, Downey Jr. insisted the character should not say anything.
Robert Downey Jr. knew Tony Stark should not say anything
In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark’s famous last line is “I am Iron Man.” This occurs after he takes the Infinity Stones from Thanos, and he then snaps his fingers, defeating Thanos and his army. However, the power from the Infinity Stones is too much for Tony Stark to bear. As he dies, he looks on lovingly as Peter Parker, Pepper Potts, and Rhodey say their goodbyes.
“These actors have spent a lot of time with these characters,” McFeely said at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. “So Chris and I are very happy, and did, to write all sorts of lovely dying words for Tony Stark. Robert is not happy to say them, right?”
The screenwriter also added that Downey Jr. “instinctively” knew that “a guy who has talked and talked and talked for many, many movies, when he doesn’t talk, you are crushed.”
“He knew that, and we didn’t feel we could turn in a page where he didn’t talk,” said McFeely. “So he says, ‘Listen, I want to do much, much less,’ and he was right.”
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Robert Downey Jr. originally did not want to say Tony Stark’s final line
While Tony Stark’s “I am Iron Man” immediately became iconic, the actor did not originally want to say it according to directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo.
“It’s an interesting story. I had dinner with [Robert Downey Jr.] like two weeks before we were supposed to shoot it. And he was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t really want to go back and get into that emotional state. It’ll take… it’s hard.’ And crazily enough, Joel Silver, the producer, was at the dinner. He’s an old buddy of Robert’s,” Joe Russo said on the ReelBlend Podcast. “And Joel jumps in and he’s like, ‘Robert, what are you talking about? That’s the greatest line I’ve ever heard! You gotta say this line! You have to do this!’ So thank God that Joel Silver was at dinner, because he helped us talk Robert into doing that line.”
How Tony Stark’s death scene came to be
In order to get the version of Tony Stark’s death that fans saw in Avengers: Endgame, Downey Jr. and the Russo Brothers recorded multiple takes.
“When we were putting together the end of the movie, when we shot Tony’s last moment in the first round, we shot a bunch of different options. Robert had different ideas…We give him space to do that. Joe and Anthony are great about improv,” said Avengers: Endgame editor Jeff Ford in an interview with Collider.
He continued, “Some of them were jokes. Some of them were obscenities. Some of them were completely emotional, raw, insane things that he was doing. And then some of them were combinations of all three of those things. What we found as we were cutting the scene wasn’t so much that we needed a special last line for Robert, but that we needed a moment between Thanos and Tony. A moment that wasn’t some kind of transaction, but literally ‘this is how I want it to be’ and ‘this is how it is.’ That would give the audience that moment. The exchange where Thanos says ‘I am inevitable’ and Tony says ‘I am Iron Man,’ that couplet is what makes that work.”