‘Avengers: Endgame’: How Robert Downey Jr.’s Biggest Line Almost Didn’t Happen

In 2008, Robert Downey Jr. was viewed by many as a fallen star. His years-long struggle with substance abuse and addiction had almost cost him his career, and he wasn’t landing the kind of roles that he had when he was in his twenties. All of that changed when Marvel Studios took a chance on him and cast him as Tony Stark in the highly-anticipated superhero film Iron Man.

The movie altered the course of Downey Jr.’s career and made him in a bonafide superstar. Now, with the final chapter of Iron Man’s story still crushing it in theaters, let’s take a closer look at one of his most iconic lines of dialogue, and how the character has changed his life.

What changed for Robert Downey Jr. after ‘Iron Man’?

Robert Downey Jr. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Although Downey Jr. is now one of the richest actors in Hollywood, with a net worth of around $300 million, he wasn’t always so successful. For his role in 2008’s Iron Man, he reportedly only earned around $500,000, a relatively paltry sum for such a prime leading role. It is likely that the smaller salary is due to the fact that Downey Jr. was considered a casting risk for Marvel Studios — after his battle with addiction, it wasn’t known how well he would fare on set.

Needless to say, after the astounding success of the film, a lot of things changed for the rehabilitated actor. For the 2010 sequel, Iron Man 2, Downey Jr.’s salary went up to around $10 million. It wasn’t just Downey Jr.’s financial status that improved. The actor started landing a number of big movie roles, including The Soloist, Sherlock Holmes, and The Judge. With all the other parts that came his way, critics and audiences alike still loved his portrayal of Tony Stark the best, and especially his iconic line from the end of the first film, “I am Iron Man.”

The end of Iron Man’s journey

Avengers: Endgame is the end of the line for Tony Stark, but the film’s creators wanted the heroic character to go out in the biggest and best way possible. Anthony Russo, one of the film’s directors, recently revealed that while they were in the editing room, reviewing the scene where Tony faces off against supervillain Thanos, something felt wrong. Apparently, the scene was first written to feature no dialogue from Downey Jr. — just a dramatic snap of the fingers.

However, Jeff Ford, the film’s editor, felt that the scene as written didn’t appropriately reflect Tony Stark’s journey. After all, over 10 years of film history had to be conveyed in just one scene, with millions of fan’s expectations riding on just those few seconds. Ford suggested that instead of simply snapping his fingers, Downey Jr. should also say, “I am Iron Man,” as a callback to the first, beloved movie. The Russo brothers loved the suggestion, and it made the finished film.

Avengers: Endgame has gone on to smash box-office records, including becoming the fastest film to reach $2 billion in theaters. Fans have been returning to see it multiple times on the big screen, and it will likely only become more popular after it is available to own. 

Robert Downey Jr. is getting Oscar buzz

Although Marvel fans might have seen the last of Tony Stark, Downey Jr. has plenty on his schedule for the next couple of years. Along with several big roles in films like Sherlock Holmes 3, Downey Jr. is receiving Oscar buzz for his incredible performance in Avengers: Endgame. Certainly, an Oscar would be a fitting tribute for an actor who has defied the odds again and again.