The Russo Brothers Think Robert Downey Jr. Had ‘Mixed Emotions’ About Iron Man’s Ending in the MCU

For those who have seen Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark’s death was equally shocking and emotional as fans were forced to bid farewell to Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In a 2019 interview, Joe and Anthony Russo revealed that Robert Downey Jr. had “mixed emotions” about the end of his beloved character’s arc in the MCU.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

The MCU directors pitched Tony Stark’s death to Robert Downey Jr.

While planning Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the Russo Brothers and the movies’ screenwriters, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, discussed the characters’ story lines with the actors. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Joe and Anthony Russo said they pitched Tony Stark’s arc to Downey Jr.

“We did pitch Robert his arc, because he kicked off the entire MCU. The Tony Stark arc is the longest and perhaps fullest in the MCU. Once we decided we wanted this kind of ending for the character, we certainly wanted to make sure Robert was comfortable with it, just because of his enormous contribution to the MCU. We did pitch it out. We went over to meet with him and we pitched it out to him,” Anthony Russo said.

The two thought Robert Downey Jr. had ‘mixed emotions’ about his character’s ending in the MCU

While the directors pitched Tony Stark’s story line in Avengers: Endgame to Downey Jr., the two felt that the actor originally had “mixed emotions” about it.

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“I think Downey may have had mixed emotions about thinking about [where Tony Stark ends up in Endgame], but I think at the end of the day, he totally accepted it,” Anthony Russo said.

Joe Russo added, “We’ve been working on that arc for this movie since Civil War. We’ve been setting Downey up for this particular performance for two films now.”

The actor had to be convinced to say his final line in ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Not only did the directors think Downey Jr. had mixed feelings about Iron Man’s ending in the MCU, the actor also initially refused to say the character’s final line.

In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark famously says “I am Iron Man” right after taking the Infinity Stones from Thanos. He snaps his fingers, defeating Thanos, and dies in the process. While the moment became iconic to moviegoers, Downey Jr. originally refused 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,” 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.”

Based on what the Russo Brothers have said about the making of Avengers: Endgame, it sounds like it took quite a bit of convincing for Downey Jr. to accept Tony Stark’s story line in the movie.