Of all the A-listers that have driven the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward since 2008, none were as pivotal in its development as Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. Kicking off his journey as Tony Stark in the franchise's first movie, he would make ten total appearances in eleven years before meeting his end in 2019's Avengers: Endgame.
Although his three solo movies and appearances in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming added to his legacy, Downey shone brightest in the four Avengers team-up films. Endgame solidified his mark on the franchise as Tony worked out the science behind time travel, helping bring half the universe back to life before his unforgettable sacrifice.
Tony's death in Endgame became the true culmination of everything the Infinity Saga built, especially as Tony snapped his fingers with his classic catchphrase "I am Iron Man."
Recently, Downey looked back on this historic MCU moment and shared how many different options he worked through before settling on that iconic line of dialogue.
RDJ Looks Back on Tony's Endgame Death
In an appearance on the Hypocondriactor Podcast, MCU star Robert Downey Jr. reflected on his final moments as Tony Stark in 2019's Avengers: Endgame.
Downey was asked in a mini-quiz about his line that he uttered before snapping his fingers in Endgame, to which he quickly gave the correct answer of "I am Iron Man." He also admitted that he tried other ideas like "You are so f-cked" and pun-filled options such as "Oh, snap:"
“Correct answer is ‘I am Iron Man,’ but I had so many alt lines that I wanted to put forward… Oh god, let me think. They were all super smart-ass lines like I was trying to, y’know, dumb stuff like, ‘You are so f-cked’ or whatever. You know what, I’ll have to go back to my notes… I get the Infinity Stones and then have the power to snap and have whatever I wanna have happen--Oh, tha- I was gonna say ‘Oh, snap.‘”
When asked why he didn't go with those options, Downey admitted that it felt "too smart-ass" and would have diminished Tony's arc as he faced death. He gave credit to one of the movie's editors, who suggested that the team go "right back to the first film" and tie things off with a neat bow:
“I’ll tell you why, it was too smart-ass and it was the whole arc of the character and it was, I think… maybe one of our great editors’ ideas, or one of the writers to say we need to go right back to the first film and have his dying words be the words of his origin… We love a bookend.”
Iron Man to Endgame, Going Full Circle
Robert Downey Jr. became the foremost expert on Tony Stark thanks to his experience with the MCU, giving him an understanding of how his character's journey should come to a close. While adding some of the more profane dialogue would have made a different impact, having Tony go back to his first public moment as a superhero seemed to be a call to destiny.
Iron Man changed the game in the superhero genre by having Tony Stark publicly reveal his identity after initially trying to dissuade the public from believing in any superhero madness. He delivered the same line a few more times throughout his tenure in the MCU, although none was bigger than his moment saving the world from Thanos and his intent to decimate humanity.
Even though Tony had a knack for being a "smart-ass," as Downey admitted in his quote, the character made incredible progress from being a billionaire playboy to a family man and a hero. Making it even more special was how Downey showed his expertise with the role after so many times playing Tony, sending the hero off in a way that brought plenty of emotion from every angle.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+, as are the other three Avengers movies and all three Iron Man films.