Avengers: Endgame gave fans plenty of unforgettable moments. But none was more memorable, or more pivotal, than Tony Stark’s last interaction with Thanos. His rebuttal to the Mad Titan’s claim of inevitability secured the Avengers’ victory, and also signaled the end of Iron Man as we knew him. And according to one of the film’s key players, there is a ton of totally insane footage of Robert Downey Jr. making sure that last moment hit exactly the way it needed to.
The film’s editor, Jeff Ford, was a part of the process of creating Tony’s incredible final scene. He told Collider that the Avengers: Endgame team worked tirelessly with Robert Downey Jr. to make it perfect. He said:
When we were putting together the end of the movie, when we shot Tony’s last moment in the first round, we shot a bunch of different options. Robert [Downey Jr.] had different ideas…We give him space to do that. Joe and Anthony [Russo] are great about improv. We shot a run of different performances for that last moment. Some of them were crazy. Some of them we would never have used.
It’s hard to imagine Tony’s “I am Iron Man” being delivered any other way. But it’s natural to be curious about what could have been. Jeff Ford was gracious enough to elaborate on what some of the other takes looked like, telling Collider:
Some of them were jokes. Some of them were obscenities. Some of them were completely emotional, raw, insane things that he was doing. And then some of them were combinations of all three of those things. What we found as we were cutting the scene wasn’t so much that we needed a special last line for Robert, but that we needed a moment between Thanos and Tony. A moment that wasn’t some kind of transaction, but literally ‘this is how I want it to be’ and ‘this is how it is.’ That would give the audience that moment. The exchange where Thanos says ‘I am inevitable’ and Tony says ‘I am Iron Man’, that couplet is what makes that work.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the iterative process that happened behind the scenes on Avengers: Endgame. The collaborative approach allowed for one of the film’s most iconic exchanges, thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s creative input. But in the making of the historic blockbuster, a lot was left on the cutting room floor, like a moment between Tony and an adult version of his daughter Morgan. Some of the Russo Brothers’ big ideas didn’t even leave the drawing board -- like James Rhodes becoming the Vice President, or even, shockingly, the film ending without Tony’s heroic death.
Fans can cross their fingers to see if any of those "insane" Iron Man takes made the cut of the upcoming Infinity Saga box set.