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Endgame Directors Talk Robert Downey Jr.'s Emotional Final Day On Set

Just when we thought we'd cried every tear there was to cry over Tony Stark.

During their panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo wrung some more sobs from the assembled crowd with their story of Robert Downey, Jr.'s final day on the set of the flick — his last day, after 11 years and nine movies, of going to work to completely inhabit the character of Iron Man. A short video of the pair's panel was posted to Collider Video's Twitter account.

That day's shoot happened to take place at a serendipitous location. If you dig into your memory banks, you'll remember that before Downey became the face of the highest-grossing film franchise in history by about four miles, he was a huge gamble — one in a an array of them for Marvel Studios, which was began with the paltry sum of $525 million dollars in the form of a revolving line of credit from Merrill Lynch. It was 2007 when Downey was cast to lead Iron Man, the MCU's inaugural effort — and not only was the character was the exact opposite of a household name, but the actor playing him was in severe need of rehabilitation in terms of his public image. 

Prior to this time (but after his stint on the early '90s A-list), Downey was known mostly for public intoxication, stints in rehab, and close brushes with lengthy prison sentences due to his wantonly excessive personal life and struggles with addiction. But his marriage to his wife Susan in 2005 had turned his life around, and when his casting was announced, those fans familiar with the character applauded it as a near-perfect match of actor with role, as the character of Stark had had a similarly checkered personal life in the comics. 

When Downey arrived at an L.A. sound stage to screen test for the role in 2005, he absolutely killed it — and it was just one set over from this stage, 13 years later, where Downey would shoot his very last scene as Iron Man. It was, to boot, a scene which will live in Marvel fans' hearts forever.

Speaking to assembled Comic-Con throng, Joe Russo said, "Robert's last day of shooting on Endgame, which happened to be the 'I am Iron Man' line... by the way, has anyone not seen the movie? Because I don't wanna give you any spoilers... if you haven't seen it, you should leave now." The deadpan spoiler warning, of course, drew a laugh from the crowd.

"The 'I am Iron Man' moment, I think, was very emotional," the director continued, "because it was not only such a poetic line for Robert to have as his last line, but it was the last day, and it was on the sound stage that was next door to the sound stage where he did his first screen test for Iron Man twelve years earlier. So it was... a very emotional day for everyone."

Pardon us for a moment, we seem to have something in both eyes. The moment Russo was referring to, of course, was the climactic event of Endgame — and, really, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe up to that point.The 2014 version of Thanos (who had traveled from the past upon becoming aware of the Avengers' plans to reverse his Snap using the Infinity Stones, which they collected from the past) managed to get his grimy purple mitts on all six stones, and after a brief skirmish with Iron Man, seemed prepared to enact his terrible plan to wipe out half of all life in the universe again.

"I am inevitable!" he growled, then snapped his Infinity Gauntlet-ed fingers — but, nothing. Because, as it turns out, Stark had swiped the stones, which his nanotech Iron Man costume neatly incorporated into a Gauntlet of its own. "And I," Stark said, "am Iron Man" — and snapped his fingers, wiping out Thanos and all of his minions. Stark's snap, though, mortally wounded him, and he died after being assured by his young protege Peter Parker that they'd won — and by his wife, Pepper Potts, than everyone would be okay without him.

We're sorry to have had to remind you of that. Tears all wiped away? Great, moving on. Anthony Russo went on to talk about how Tony's new role as a father (to daughter Morgan, who had arrived during Endgame's five-year time jump) informed the difference between the first time Stark had uttered those words (at the conclusion of Iron Man) and the last, as tony's arc had taken him full circle from being a self-centered playboy with an ego the size of New Jersey to a man acutely aware of his role as protector, and the responsibility that comes with that role.

These were just a few brief moments from a fascinating panel from the duo. San Diego Comic-Con 2019 will be in full swing throughout the weekend, and of course, we'll be bringing you every bit of news from the event that's fit to report.