The ‘I am Iron Man’ moment at the end of Avengers: Endgame was the last thing the cast and crew filmed for the movie, and it almost didn’t happen. In an oral history of the film’s climactic battle sequence, key crew members recalled the other versions of the scene that almost ended up being in the film.
“There were many [other options], and they just weren’t the culmination of 22 films,” co-writer Christopher Markus told Slash Film. “They were more like, ‘F**k you, buddy!’ Because Robert, to his credit – and it’s why Tony Stark has become so iconic – loves to undercut the drama sometimes with a non-sequitur or something. So we tried a few of those and it was like, ‘Really? We’re building up to that?’ That’s why the more serious ‘I am Iron Man’ was a reshoot, because we had a lot of zags. A creative person’s natural instinct is to not give you what you want. To go, ‘Eh, we’re going to do [something else].’ And it takes a while to get to the simpler version of, ‘No, you should do exactly what you think you’re going to do there.’ That’s what hits.”
Editor Jeff Ford said that one alternate option was almost as good. “The best one we had in before ‘I am Iron Man’ was a silent one, where he and Thanos just looked at each other and it was just silent,” he said. “But it didn’t complete that arc or close that narrative properly. Thanos has said, “I am inevitable” a couple times in the movie, and you really want to feel that sense is at hand, that inevitability: no matter how many times you time travel, no matter how many times you can go back and get a do-over, you’ll never defeat him, it’s destiny. And Tony says no, it’s not. I needed that exchange, for me, to make that satisfying. So that’s kind of how we got to that line.”
Ford continued, “Robert did a ton of improvs, some of them were funny, some of them were silly, some of them were goofy. But that’s his process to find it. We knew that we were never going to use a silly one, but he goes through that to find rhythms, and as an actor, he’s brilliant at exploring that. The Russos gave him a camera and let it run on him, and let him do a bunch of different things. So we did that and we tried a few of them. Some of them were obscene.”
He added, “I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you the obscene one, but there’s one where he says, ‘You are so f**ked’ and he snaps. I loved that one. But I can’t do it justice, because there were tears in his eyes when he said it. It was an emotional – that was the thing, Robert found the emotional moment in what he did, but it took a little bit of work to get to the right narrative and emotional one. But there’s nothing that compares with the performances he gave on that last day, which I believe was our last day of shooting. The last shot. We shot it on the stage where he did his original screen test, and told him about that…”
Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man dies at the end of Endgame, having reversed the villainous Thanos’ snap, and resurrected half the universe’s population. Recent rumours, however, have suggested that the character could return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some manner or the other.
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