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The Improvised Iron Man Moment That Shaped The Future Of The MCU

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe the massive success it is now, it's hard to imagine its humble beginnings. When "Iron Man" first hit theaters in 2008, Marvel Studios was a lowly shop, betting all they had on bringing this lesser-known superhero to the big screen. Of course, the studio's gamble paid off, creating a gigantic film franchise unlike anything the world had seen before.

It's impossible to talk about the success of '"Iron Man" — and the entire MCU, really — without talking about Robert Downey Jr. The veteran actor brought Tony Stark to life with his wit and commitment to the character, capturing audiences' hearts and setting a standard for the caliber of acting talent expected in the MCU. 

It turns out that Downey Jr. did more than just set the stage for his future fellow Avengers. One small improvised moment from the actor changed the course of the MCU forever.

Robert Downey Jr. improvised that iconic final line in Iron Man

As reported by IndieWire, the last line of "Iron Man" was completely improvised by Robert Downey Jr. The film concludes with Tony Stark hosting a press conference, going off script and announcing to the world, "I am Iron Man." In the comics, Stark kept his superhero identity for years before revealing himself, making this first MCU film already a distinct departure from its source material. 

Marvel head Kevin Feige was delighted by Downey Jr.'s choice and saw how the ending resonated with audiences. "That success inspired us to go further in the trusting ourselves to find balance of staying true to the comics and the spirit of the comics but not being afraid to adapt and evolve..." he said (via IndieWire). Feige added, though, that the ad-lib was only kept in because it remained true to Stark's character, both on-screen and in the comics. 

The moment served as inspiration for the rest of the MCU, too. "What I love now," Feige said,"...is how fans expect the MCU to change and adapt. They expect us to be inspired by the comics as opposed to being slavishly devoted to them" (via IndieWire).

Over 13 years since "Iron Man's" original release, the MCU has continued to expertly walk the line between honoring its comic origins, while also keeping things fresh and contemporary for audiences — and we've loved every moment of it.