Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo open up about getting Robert Downey Jr.'s blessing upon crafting Iron Man's arc in Avengers: Endgame. The culmination of everything that has transpired in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for more than a decade, the latest superhero blockbuster also wrapped up the story of its inaugural hero, Tony Stark, who went out after sacrificing himself to defeat Thanos once and for all by putting on the gauntlet and snapping his fingers. It was a bold move to kill the poster boy of the universe, but the actor was onboard with the idea of capping off his character's arc this way.
Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Endgame picked up after the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War with the remaining heroes going on a mission to bring back everyone dusted by Thanos snap. It was an enormous responsibility to culminate everything in the MCU thus far and the general consensus is that the writers, alongside the Russos stuck the landing with both critics and fans digging what they did in the film. The movie has already nabbed a whopping $1.2 billion on its opening weekend alone with people still coming in droves to the movies to catch it multiple times. But among all the boxes that Endgame had to tick, arguably one of the most important ones is to wrap up Tony Stark's 11-year arc in a satisfying way, and they did.
Speaking with THR on the heels of Endgame's Hollywood premiere, the Russos were asked about the initial reaction of the founding MCU actors upon learning about their fates in the film. Zeroing in on Downey, Anthony revealed that they actually pitched Stark's arc to the actor before moving forward with it. Downey, apparently, initially had mixed feelings about it, but he eventually mellowed on the idea until he fully embraced it.
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.
A lot of the actors are not opinionated about what we do. They like the fact that we are sort of in control of these stories and we are driving where they should go and we have a vision for where they should go and they trust in that. 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.
The Russos have been working with Downey and his role as Stark since 2016's Captain America: Civil War so it's safe to assume that this was pitched to him shortly after that film came out. As the writers of the film revealed in a separate interview, there were no alternate endings considered for Iron Man and Captain America and because of that, they were able to properly set up their arcs movies ahead of Endgame. This was particularly important for Stark since he'd gone through a full trilogy before the Russos had a hand on him. Despite this, they still had a lot of great nods to his earlier films including a reference to cheeseburgers, and of course, his delivery of "I am Iron Man."
Like Downey, fans may initially have mixed emotions with Stark's fate in Avengers: Endgame, but considering the journey he's had since assuming the Iron Man mantle in 2008, this was the most fitting way to send him off. Starting with a billionaire weapons manufacturer who had no regard for other people, he died giving himself up to ensure the future of the universe. The fact that he had everything to lose having a wife and daughter adds weight to his sacrifice in the film. Putting on the gauntlet and be the one to defeat Thanos was his most glorious moment and that's the best way for him to go.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019