‘Avengers: Endgame’ Directors Think Robert Downey Jr. Deserves an Award for His Performance as Iron Man

Someone give that man an Oscar

That’s what Joe and Anthony Russo, known professionally as the Russo Brothers, have said about Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark aka Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame, the record-breaking film they directed. Beware, there are major spoiler alerts ahead.

In a recent interview with Backstory Magazine, one half of the directing duo, Joe Russo, said he and his brother felt the 54-year-old actor delivered an “awards-caliber performance” in the film, according to Comicbook.com.

Why Robert Downey Jr. deserves an award

Joe Russo said Downey Jr. gave a performance worthy of an award and what did he say sealed the deal? A particular scene in Avengers: Endgame between Iron Man and another superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Dr. Stephen Strange, played by 43-year-old actor Benedict Cumberbatch

Anthony and Joe Russo
Anthony and Joe Russo. | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

“What’s so incredible about Robert Downey and his performance — and we think this is an awards-caliber performance — is when he looks at Benedict in that moment, what you see happen on his face and the way he just drops his eyes and receives the information, it’s because he knows he’s the solution and the solution involves snapping his fingers — he’s going to die,” Joe Russo told the publication. 

He continued, “The thing he wanted to preserve two hours earlier in the movie is his relationship with his daughter, and he will have to sacrifice that in order to save everyone else.”

Iron Man sacrificed his own life to save others, including his family. The character knew death was imminent (or at least very likely) before other superheroes whom he had become close with had put two and two together. 

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

According to the writers of the film, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Downey Jr. had become so familiar with his character, he knew without anyone telling him what his character had to do in his last scene

“These actors have spent a lot of time with these characters,” McFeely said during a panel discussion at San Diego Comic-Con in July of 2019. “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?”

He continued, saying Downey Jr. knew “instinctively” his character shouldn’t talk much during his death scene.

Stark or Iron Man is “a guy who has talked and talked and talked for many, many movies when he doesn’t talk, you are crushed,” McFeely said.

“He [Downey Jr.] knew that, and we didn’t feel we could turn in a page where he didn’t talk,” McFeely continued. “So he says, ‘Listen, I want to do much, much less,’ and he was right.”

While Iron Man didn’t have many speaking lines in his death scene, the character later bid his family and friends farewell. Downey Jr.’s character recorded a message in which he said goodbye to his family — played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Lexi Rabe — and the rest of his loved ones including other MCU superheroes. Audiences watching Avengers: Endgame heard the message during the character’s funeral. 

Downey Jr. makes it clear he isn’t his character

Downey Jr. has played Stark/Iron Man since 2008 when Marvel Studios released Iron Man, the first film in the Avengers film franchise. The actor reprised his role as Iron Man in subsequent films and surely got to know the ins and outs of his character. So much so, fans of Iron Man began mixing the character with the actor. Although Downey Jr. has been quick to point out he is not his character. 

“First thing you learn in theatre arts: aesthetic distance. I am not this play I’m doing … I’m not my work. I’m not what I did with that studio. I’m not that period of time that I spent playing this character,” Downey Jr. said during an appearance on Off Camera with Sam Jones.

While we know the actor isn’t Iron Man, from now on it will be one of Downey Jr’s most well-known (if not the popular) of his roles. For better or worse, Iron Man and Tony Stark will always be in Downey Jr.’s life.