It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Iron Man’s death was the biggest emotional gut-punch in the entire MCU (so far, at least), as Robert Downey Jr. became the man to make the sacrifice play, lay himself down on the wire, and effectively save the universe.
Fate willed it so, and while RDJ delivered what is perhaps the perfect final line for Tony Stark (“and I… am… Iron Man”), it turns out the Avengers: Endgame actor originally had a different idea in mind. And yes, it involves something of a catchphrase.
During the 2019 People’s Choice Awards (h/t ComicBook.com), Downey Jr. admitted that he initially wanted to say “oh, snap!” before dusting Thanos and his alien army, though any hope of a sly one-liner fell by the wayside when Endgame editor Jeffrey Ford proposed something a little more poetic. Something that would, in effect, harken back to the very beginning of the MCU.
Here’s co-director Joe Russo recalling that exact moment in a previous Q&A:
Tony used to not say anything in that moment. And we were in the editing room going, ‘He has to say something. This a character who has lived and died by quips.’ And we just couldn’t, we tried a million different last lines. Thanos was saying, ‘I am inevitable.’ And our editor Jeff Ford, who’s been with us all four movies and is an amazing storyteller, said, ‘Why don’t we just go full circle with it and say I am Iron Man?’ And we’re like, ‘Get the cameras! We have to shoot this tomorrow.’
On paper, “oh, snap!” is a very on-brand thing for Tony Stark to say – this is, after all, the whip-smart inventor who has a nickname for nearly every core member of The Avengers, from Point Break (Thor) to Legolas (Hawkeye). But Jeffrey Ford’s idea to bring everything full circle, and reference the closing moments of Iron Man, feels much more poignant, particularly for a movie designed to draw the curtain on Marvel’s Infinity Saga. And with it, Robert Downey Jr.’s time playing Tony Stark.
But don’t worry, he’ll never be too far away; Avengers: Endgame (and many more MCU movies) will be available to stream via Disney+ at launch.