Robert Downey Jr.'s time as Iron Man has sadly come to an end after the events of Avengers: Endgame. It's hard to believe that once upon a time the character was supposed to be played by Tom Cruise, and Collider just gave fans a glimpse into that strange alternate history. Using some sort of deepfake technology they have edited Cruise into a number of high-profile Avengers moments to see what it would be like.
Once you get past the downright frightening realization that these sorts of videos are now emulatable this fast, the entire experiment could have worked. Tony Stark is charisma, and Tom Cruise definitely still has that working for him at this point in his career. Still, it is a bit strange to see all those memorable moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and not have them coming from Downey Jr.
There were members of the audience in tears during the finale of Avengers: Endgame. The long goodbye to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark was written to garner a very strong reaction from everyone in the theater. Defeating Thanos with that fateful snap meant the ultimate sacrifice. Those tear-jerking moments weren't the only options explored while writing Endgame. In some earlier versions of the story, Tony actually ended up being able to survive.
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely tweaked and prodded every scene in Avengers: Endgame. Every single beat was scrutinized to get the best possible outcome. Tony Stark's big hero moment was an unprecedented move in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The writers spoke to Canada.com about the process behind the controversial decision to kill the hero that began the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"We weren't there to just kill characters off," Markus told Canada.com. "We were told, 'If the story demands it, you can take people off the board. But if there's a good story to be told and no one dies, go ahead and tell that one too.'"
"In Endgame, we were trying to finish arcs and for Iron Man/Tony Stark to give up his life and sacrifice himself for the good of the universe seemed like a really good narrative closure for the billionaire playboy who had been learning over the course of several films (to be a better person)," he added.
Choices that defined Avengers: Endgame will define the MCU for many years to come. Iron Man isn't coming back and Downey Jr. seems done with the role. Maybe Marvel will double back and cast Cruise in What If? as an easter egg? Who knows, but at least now we know what that would roughly look like.
Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall of 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, What If…? in Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022.