‘Avengers: Endgame’: Robert Downey Jr. Knew Fans Would Be ‘Crushed’ by Tony Stark’s Silence During His Death Scene
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark was known for having a comeback for everything. That is why his silence during his death scene in Avengers: Endgame felt so poignant. Originally, the character was supposed to deliver lines during the scene, but Robert Downey Jr. knew that Tony Stark needed to be silent in his final minutes.
Robert Downey Jr. insisted Tony Stark stay silent
At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely told Avengers: Endgame fans that Tony Stark’s death scene originally had dialogue. However, Downey Jr. did not agree with that decision.
“These actors have spent a lot of time with these characters,” McFeely said. “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?”
Downey Jr.’s reasoning? He knew the weight of the character’s silence would leave fans “crushed.”
McFeely said that the actor “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. So he says, ‘Listen, I want to do much, much less,’ and he was right.”
There were multiple versions of the character’s death
While Tony Stark’s last line ended up being “I am Iron Man” followed by silence, Downey Jr. filmed several different versions of the character’s final line. The actor was allowed to improvise and incorporate Tony Stark’s known sass and wit.
In an interview with Slash Film, Avengers: Endgame editor Jeff Ford gave insight into Downey Jr.’s acting process.
“Robert did a ton of improvs, some of them were funny, some of them were silly, some of them were goofy. But that’s his process to find it,” Ford said. “The Russos gave him a camera and let it run on him, and let him do a bunch of different things. So we did that and we tried a few of them.”
While Downey Jr.’s improvisations most likely fit with Tony Stark’s talkative character, his final moments needed to be emotional.
“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,” Ford said in an interview with Collider. “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.”
Robert Downey Jr. did not want to say ‘I am Iron Man’
As soon as Avengers: Endgame premiered, Tony Stark’s last line became iconic. While the line seems to bring the character’s story full circle, it was not added to the movie until reshoots. Because of this, Downey Jr. had to be convinced to come back and deliver Tony Stark’s final line.
In an interview on the ReelBlend Podcast, Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo explained how Downey Jr. was convinced to say “I am Iron Man.”
“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. 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.”
While Downey Jr. took some convincing, the line was a hit with fans of Avengers: Endgame and Tony Stark’s final scene went down in film history.