Robert Downey Jr. apparently had a terrible time suiting up as Iron Man in the original 2008 movie; as the star revealed in a recent interview with David Letterman, Downey was asked if the moving portions of the Iron Man helmet and faceplate were actual mechanical devices or just visual effects. As Downey revealed, the Iron man helmet was an evolving design during the course of his Marvel Cinematic Universe tenure - and it started off in a very painful place. "I was absolutely blinded," Downey says when describing what it was like having the Iron Man helmet on with its bright LED lights shining in his face. "It was like Manchurian Candidate."
You can watch the full anecdote from Robert Downey Jr.'s appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, or get the full quotes from the former Marvel star, below:
"Initially it was -- everything was really there," Downey explains. "They wanted to spend as little as they could on CG replacement. 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."
As we've seen in various Marvel movie production photos and videos, Downey didn't let that hellish experience of becoming Iron Man stand for long. As the actor explains:
"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."
That right there is the talk of a star who rose up into a nice little power-perch in the Marvel Studios order. By now, Downey's story of helping get the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise off the ground (both with his Iron Man performance and as a financial investor) is legendary. As the technical wizardry of Marvel Studios productions also grew over the years, few fans complained that Iron Man became more CG character than a practical one.1comments
In fact, the true power of Downey's performances as Iron Man is that he brings to the character to life for fans, despite doing most of the actual performing from a sound booth that is later "painted" into the interior view of his Iron Man helmet. In other words: RDJ certainly put his CG Iron Man helmet to good use.
You can revisit Robert Downey Jr.'s arc as Iron Man in the MCU on Disney+.