Iron Man: Viral Photo of Robert Downey Jr. Trying On The Helmet For The First Time Resurfaces

A viral photo of Robert Downey Jr. trying on the Iron Man helmet for the first time has resurfaced again. The images give us a look at Downey on set for Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2007, getting his head literally screwed into the Iron Man helmet for the first time. This moment from the early Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a testament to just how far the franchise has come in creating its superhero characters for the big screen. When Downey kicked things off as Tony Stark/Iron Man the technical process of becoming Iron Man was literally a hazard to his health!

Robert Downey Jr. trying on the Iron Man helmet for the first MCU movie from r/marvelstudios

In fact, it was just last month that Robert Downey Jr. appeared on David Letterman's Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, where he recounted how the Iron Man helmet we see in that picture was a nightmare to wear - and actually nearly blinded him:

"Initially it was -- everything was really there," Downey explains. "They wanted to spend as little as they could on CG replacement," Downey told Letterman. "So I remember this helmet went on... I put this helmet on and it slammed closed and I couldn't see anything. And then these LED lights went on, and it was like Manchurian Candidate. I was absolutely blinded."

Of course, that was just the starting point; after the early Iron Man films, Downey made sure the process got refined for future MCU movies. By the time he was doing Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, there was no vision-killing helmet time for RDJ:

"By the time we were doing the last Avengers, they'd just be like 'Hey Robert would mind like putting on the--' Helmet? No! Yes? No. Put two dots here [motions to eyes] and then you can paint it in later."

Marvel Studios improved its visual effects techniques by such big leaps and bounds over the years. By the time of Phase Two and Phase Three, fans weren't really able to distinguish between Downey in a practical Iron Man helmet, and the CGI version of the hero's costume and its details. If anything, the "painted" version of Iron Man allowed for much more intricate sequences of superhero action, which never lost their thrill.

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Downey definitely went out on a high note with Infinity War and Endgame, as Iron Man's battles against Thanos and his minions are still some of the biggest clips on the MCU Infinity Saga highlight reel.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe will return in 2021.