Robert Downey Jr. Pens Emotional Celebration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Even after a decades-long career, Robert Downey, Jr. will likely be remembered primarily as Tony Stark, the superhero that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe and helped reinvent the modern action movie. It's little surprise, then, that when it came time to write an authorized history of the first decade and change of Marvel movies, Downey was the man chosen to write the afterword, effectively giving him the "last word" on the development of cinema's biggest modern franchise. And what he chose to do with it was to ask a question: who is responsible for the development, and success, of Marvel Studios?

Ultimately, he spreads the love around, lavishing praise on a number of his co-stars and looking forward to the next generation of Marvel stars with excitement. In a heartfelt entry, Downey also thanks filmmakers, producers, and fans for making his journey as Tony possible.

"Lee and Kirby dreamt it up and fleshed it out, sorta. Ziskin, Raimi, and Maguire, brought it to life, pretty much," the actor wrote, in part. "Then Favreau got Feige, Arad, and D'Esposito sold on the idea of me as Tony. Lest we forget, I was hardly a shoo-in for the role, let alone first choice. Over forty, not very tall, dark, or handsome -- hell, if I'd even been sober that long. Gosh darn miracle of oversight, to be honest."

Sharing some inspiring anecdotes from the creation of the first Iron Man, Downey talked about how that movie couldn't have been the same without Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges...and Gwyneth Paltrow, who was there when director Jon Favreau said he suddenly realized the movie was going to work.

"Jon then created a culture that invited inspirations via a nebulous web of soul-baring discussions, ribald humor, frailty, neurotic, noodling, and flat out punch-drunk giddiness," Downey wrote, calling Favreau's approach "the Anti-Process."

He also heaped praise on Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans, saying they were integral to Marvel's success, but immediately raised a question: how do you make Avengers work?

"When Thor, then Cap, came out hale and hearty, this Avengers thing seemed inevitable. But wait, three separate heroes, tones, and influences -- how could they all be wrangled into a worktable fourth dimension?" Downey wrote. "I suppose the answer was obvious, in hindsight? Add Johansson, Renner, and Ruffalo to the mix, and apply a liberal dose of Whedon. To date, it was the biggest crapshoot trifecta ever attempted. Okay, that worked, too...what next? Wash, rinse, repeat...the longest relay race of like-minded creatives in the history of cinema."

He called Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange "Additional crowning achievements" and stars Chris Pratt, Paul Rudd, and Benedict Cumberbatch "the third quarter QBs that crucially permitted the airship to float higher still."

As he was writing the afterward, it's fairly clear that Chadwick Boseman had not yet passed away. Downey talked about his son running around the house in a Black Panther outfit, and reminisced about director Ryan Coogler attending an early midnight screening of Iron Man in 2008, saying, "and now, he's the bleeding edge of an overdue paradigm shift in Hollywood."

"Any credit I'm due is shared with my directors John, Shane, Joss, Anthony, and Joe, who have kept Tony evolving enough to hold my interest for over a decade," the actor wrote of his own contributions, boiling down the "who or what" deserves credit for Marvel to two components. 

"Feige is the What, which loosely translates to galvanizer, bloodhound, shaman, Oz, you name it; however, like most 'what's, it's a three-headed hydra," Downey wrote, presumably missing the irony of the HYDRA metaphor. "Alsonso and D'Esposito are interchangeable with Kevin, depending on the severity of the physical challenge of production, or the indescribably taxing job of rendering VFX to the deafening drum of deadlines."

"The Who, is YOU," he added. "If you made it to the 'end credits' of this anniversary edition, you're likely a fan, so there's your Easter egg, darlings...a mirror!"

In closing, he offered up a pretty lofty goal for the MCU:

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"I hope these films have evoked a dialogue on equality, justice, freedom, embracing diversity, and combating intolerance with the power of partnership, sacrifice, and love."