Robert Downey Jr. Recalls When The Iron Man Suit Originally ‘Blinded’ Him

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man (2008)

For over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. delighted fans in the role of genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist Tony Stark. From his early auditions, it was clear that he could embody the spirit of the character, and it was no surprise that he became one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’ brightest stars. There were, however, a few growing pains when it came time for him to don the Iron Man suit and, in one instance, Downey actually found himself blinded by the costume.

The Iron Man suit was a mostly CGI creation for a large part of Robert Downey Jr.’s run in the MCU but, in the beginning, Iron Man director Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios were aiming for a practical suit. Downey recently recalled that during one particular scene, the LED lights within the costume made it very difficult for him to see:

Initially, everything was really there. They wanted to spend as little as they could on CG replacement, so I remember this helmet went on, and there’d be a shot, and I’d be in this whole suit, and they’d say: 'All right, Robert, it's like you landed on the roof, so when we say action, just go like that, like you just landed, and then start moving forward.' So 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 The Manchurian Candidate… I was absolutely blinded.

That had to have been a scary moment for Downey but, based on the way he told the story to David Letterman on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, he can now see (sorry) the humor in the situation.

Thankfully for him, that tedious process for the Iron Man suit didn’t continue. As Downey further explained, his approach to suiting up was very different when working on Avengers: Endgame years later:

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 [points at forehead] and then you can paint it in later.’

Robert Downey Jr. gave a lot of himself to the Iron Man role, both mentally and physically. In addition to his early struggles with the costume, he also hurt his ankle while performing a stunt for Iron Man 3. But despite any pitfalls, Downey took things in stride and doesn’t appear to have any regrets about taking the role.

Following Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame, fans are already missing the Armored Avenger and would like for Robert Downey Jr. to return to the role in some capacity. The actor has remained coy on any possible return and, even if it somehow does happen, it probably won’t occur any time soon. On the bright side, if Downey does choose to reprise his role, he can take comfort in knowing that he wouldn’t have to worry about being blinded by the Iron Man suit.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.