Marvel fans were stunned when Avengers: Endgame finally released in theaters, revealing the stunning fates for many of the original members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. And while some retirements and deaths were surprising, few moments had the same impact as the death of Iron Man, bringing Robert Downey Jr.'s epic run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close.
Imagine the challenge of selling Downey on that creative choice; convincing the actor to say goodbye to the role that made him a superstar and put his career back on track. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige spoke about that challenge while speaking with Empire Magazine at a Q&A, explaining when he told Downey of their idea to kill off Tony Stark.
"I remember pitching that to Robert Downey Jr. probably in December of 2015, I think," he recalls. "I pitched him the idea of the two-part finale for Avengers and Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was a part of that leading into it. It took a little while, but eventually it came together. I think at first it doesn't seem real that this journey will come to an end. But as it got closer to filming, it really was emotional for all of us, and particularly for him."
Downey's appearance had a major impact on everyone on set, and directors Joe and Anthony Russo have made it clear that they believe the actor should be rewarded for his role in Avengers: Endgame.
"What's so incredible about Robert Downey and his performance — and we think this is an awards-caliber performance — is when he looks at Benedict in that moment, what you see happen on his face and the way he just drops his eyes and receives the information, it's because he knows he's the solution and the solution involves snapping his fingers — he's going to die," Joe Russo explained to Backstory Magazine. "The thing he wanted to preserve two hours earlier in the movie is his relationship with his daughter, and he will have to sacrifice that in order to save everyone else."
And while Downey is proud of his role as Tony Stark throughout the last decade-plus in the MCU, he is now taking an effort to distance himself from that role.
"I am not my work," Downey said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. "I am not what I did with that studio. I am not that period of time that I spent playing this character. And it sucks, because the kid in all of us wants to be like, 'No. It's always going to be summer camp and we're all holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya.'"
Avengers: Endgame is now available on Digital HD and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 13th.