‘Avengers: Endgame’: Robert Downey Jr.’s Most Iconic Line Almost Didn’t Make It Into the Movie

An iconic movie like Avengers: Endgame was inevitably going to have some tweaks before the final cut was put in theaters. No epic film in history has ever been released in a first draft form without last-minute changes, recent Star Wars movies being Exhibit A.

In the case of Avengers: Endgame, the final battle sequence was apparently full of reshoots to accommodate the schedule of all the actors, plus enhance some of the scenes to play up emotion. Numerous moments were redone to make them more impactful, or to just expand so the drama would be more powerful.

It turns out one of the most famous moments at the end was decided at the 11th hour. Yes, famous movie lines sometimes are a literal afterthought.

How much was reworked before final release?

Screen Rant recently did a review of some of the final scenes in Avengers: Endgame and how much work was put in to either make them more elaborate or just removing them altogether. A couple of sequences were cut due to feeling extraneous. One of those was an aerial battle thought to be too distracting to the rest of the story.

There was also a segment in a trench that had several planned character interactions. This was going to include Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) reuniting, plus a plan to steal Thanos’s gauntlet.

These two scenes are just some examples of how much went into planning the final battle sequence so it was as perfect as possible. Another part of this was slowing down the portal sequence so it had more epic power in seeing the previously departed superheroes coming back to life.

After all this, taking the time to do post-production on one line of dialogue might seem anticlimactic. And, yet, it happened thanks to Downey, Jr. agreeing to add a specific sentence.

One line can make all the difference in wrapping up a storyline

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Most people who saw Avengers: Endgame probably assumed Tony Stark/Iron Man uttering “I am Iron Man” as his final words is planned long in advance. Reportedly, this isn’t the case at all and was a last-second thought in the script.

Just imagine the film without that line and how less dramatic of an arc Tony Stark’s story would be. The idea to add it during a late reshoot came from editor Jeff Ford who thought it a good idea to give full circle to the character and also give a counter-reference to Thanos’s “I am inevitable” line.

Downey, Jr. apparently wasn’t crazy about having to come in to do a reshoot to say one line. Producer Joel Silver coaxed him into doing it at a dinner two weeks before the shoot was done.

They set up the retake in an L.A. soundstage not far away from where Downey first tested for the role. In this sense, it was full circle for Downey as much as Tony Stark, which made it doubly emotional.

Of course, saying the line was also a form of bookend in Stark saying the same thing in the first Iron Man. It’s lines like this likely making movie fans wonder how many other final quotes in movies were afterthoughts.

Plenty other classic movie lines were not from the screenwriters

In a lot of cinematic cases, legendary actors frequently ad-libbed lines in their iconic scenes. Today, it’s bizarre to think “I am Iron Man” isn’t in the initial drafts of Avengers: Endgame. Many other movies didn’t have classic lines in the original scripts either.

A lot of examples exist where famous lines were either added in during a reshoot or just improvised by the actors, ultimately creating movie history in the process. Lines like “Here’s looking at you, kid” (from Casablanca) and “I’m the king of the world!” (from Titanic) were all more or less made up on the spot.

If one can say Avengers: Endgame is now in the annals of all-time classic movies, it’s proof the most inspired dialogue often strikes like instant lightning.