Avengers: Endgame producer Kevin Feige and director Anthony Russo revealed that Robert Downey Jr. initially didn’t want to shoot the iconic “I am Iron Man” scene in the film.
Downey debuted as Tony Stark in 2008 on Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, which also marks as the MCU’s first film. The actor went on to play the role ten times over the course of 11 years, with Endgame being his final portrayal of Stark with the superhero’s tragic death in the film.
Tony Stark’s role as Iron Man ended tragically in Endgame when he sacrificed himself to save the world from Thanos. He nabbed the Infinity Stones from the Mad Titan and transferred them onto his own gauntlet so he could snap Thanos and his army away. The hero dropped his iconic “I am Iron Man” quote right before snapping his fingers.
The “I am Iron Man” quote has great meaning attached to it — Tony first dropped the quote back in the first Iron Man film, when he boldly revealed his superhero identity at a press conference. This made the quote perfect for Iron Man’s final moments in Endgame, but apparently it almost didn’t happen because Downey initially didn’t want to shoot the scene.
In the original cut for Endgame, Iron Man doesn’t have a line for that scene, but while the Russos were editing the film, they came up with the idea to have Tony say the line. At the time they came up with the idea to add the iconic line, it had already been a while since filming wrapped up. So when Downey was told about the reshoot for the scene, he said he didn’t want to do it, but it’s not because it would be a hassle to reshoot one scene when filming was already over.
In the new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Feige and Russo revealed the real reason why Downey didn’t want to reshoot the snapping scene with the iconic Iron Man quote. According to Russo, Downey didn’t want to reshoot the scene because he didn’t want to get into character as Tony Stark again as it was a very emotional scene.
Filming Infinity War and Endgame was a pretty emotional experience for the team, especially since the two movies are the final two films of the Infinity Saga. Downey has been Iron Man for over a decade and he had to say goodbye to Tony Stark after Endgame. Landing the role as Tony Stark and Iron Man was life-changing for the actor, and the idea of having to say goodbye to it is understandably difficult for him.
Plus, the scene that the Russos had asked him to reshoot wasn’t just some random scene from Endgame — they had asked him to reshoot the moment Tony Stark sacrifices himself, a very emotionally-packed moment in the film. Adding the iconic “I am Iron Man” quote adds even more to the emotional value of the scene, so it’s understandable why Downey didn’t want to go through with the reshoot at first.
But that’s not all — they reshot the emotional scene after the actor had agreed to return at a stage in Raleigh Studio in Los Angeles, which is adjacent to the venue where he test screened for the first Iron Man film in the early 2000s. Having to shoot an emotional scene as Iron Man near the place where Downey had test screened for his first film as Iron Man most likely evoked a big wave of nostalgia for the actor.
Considering that MCU is diving deeper into the idea of a multiverse for its next phase in films, they probably have ways to bring Iron Man back into the universe somehow. But at the same time, Iron Man’s death had heavily impacted the Avengers and other characters in the MCU. So while Tony Stark is no longer among the living, his legacy lives on and his absence still has a huge impact on the remaining characters, like in Spider-Man: Far From Home wherein Peter Parker struggles with grief over Tony’s death while having to put on a brave face to stop Mysterio without Tony around to guide him.
Whether or not Iron Man returns to the MCU, there’s no denying that the superhero had left a great impression on the Avengers and his sacrifice will always be remembered.