Now that Avengers: Endgame has come and gone, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can reflect on the first decade of storytelling in the sprawling franchise — and all of it began with Robert Downey Jr. bringing Tony Stark to life in Iron Man. But the armored Avenger sacrificed his own life in order to save the world in the Marvel Studios movie, wielding the power of the Infinity Stones to stop the invasion of the Mad Titan Thanos and his armies. But that wasn't the only plan for killing off Iron Man.
According to a new interview with Avengers: Endgame editor Jeff Ford, who came up with the iconic final line of "And I am Iron Man," they filmed a few different versions of Tony Stark's death before settling on the take that made it into the final film.
"The way Robert works is, he sometimes likes to explore," Ford told Collider. "He likes to try different things. And because he’s an intuitive actor, he likes to do that on camera in case he hits something that is special. Very often he does."
Ford explained that Downey had a few different ideas for that death scene, and because of his input on the MCU and his ownership of the character of Iron Man, director Joe and Anthony Russo worked with him.
"When we were putting together the end of the movie, when we shot Tony’s last moment in the first round, we shot a bunch of different options. Robert had different ideas… We give him space to do that. Joe and Anthony are great about improv. We shot a run of different performances for that last moment. Some of them were crazy. Some of them we would never have used," Ford explained.
He added that there was a moment that everyone in the editing bay considered their favorite, and there wasn't any line of dialogue at all in the scene.
"In that version, Thanos didn’t say anything either. He had the gauntlet. He looked at him like, ‘I got you.’ Snapped. Looked. Couldn’t believe it. Turned to Tony. Tony raised his hand and snapped. It was beautiful. It worked really, really well. But what we found, though, was Thanos needed an arc in Endgame. That arc was his sense of inevitability. The story we’d been telling was that Thanos’ pitch in that movie is ‘no matter how many times you try and stop me, you can travel in time, you can do all these things, you’re never going to win.’ It’s a sense of destiny, of ‘I will always be the one who wins.’ They’re trying to undo destiny. They’re going against what happened. For the movie to have thematic coherence, the end of the movie needed to be Thanos saying, ‘I told you. You cannot win,’ and for Tony to say, ‘But we can’."
Ultimately, the version they landed on ended up working best for the film and provided a thematic conclusion for Iron Man's arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Endgame is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.