Avengers: Endgame co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo have been working with Robert Downey Jr. since 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and in all this time, the pair have been building towards the conclusion of Iron Man’s journey. And since we’re going to be discussing this particular conclusion below, be warned that some pretty big spoilers lie ahead.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Joe Russo suggested that the seeds of Tony Stark’s demise were planted in Civil War:
“We’ve been working on that arc for this movie since Civil War. We’ve been setting Downey up for this particular performance for two films now.”
Though the Russos didn’t go into any specifics on how Civil War sets up Tony’s fate, fans looking back on Iron Man’s previous outings will no doubt find new meaning in certain moments, now that we’ve seen the full trajectory of his journey.
In the same interview, Anthony explained that he and his brother like to work closely with their actors when mapping out their various character arcs:
“Joe and I are really performer-oriented. We love actors. And a large part of our process is figuring out how we bring actors most alive in their roles and how we give them autonomy and freedom to sort of play and go to very interesting places. That’s a big part of our creative process and our structural director process.”
Anthony went on to single out Downey as an actor who contributed heavily to the creative process:
“Downey is the most wonderful collaborator. He’s a really brilliant filmmaker in his own right and he brings a tremendous amount of energy to the process. The way we direct him is by having very engaged and thorough creative discussions about what our vision for the movie is, about what we want to do with the character. He’s very helpful in terms of helping fill those ideas out.”
The Russo Brothers have previously claimed that Downey was probably the only actor who was allowed to read the entire Endgame script. The pair even had the courtesy to run Tony’s death past the star to check that he was comfortable with the idea. According to Anthony, Downey “may have had mixed emotions” about his character’s fate, but at the end of the day, “totally accepted it.”
Downey may have come to terms with Iron Man’s passing, but at the moment, a lot of Avengers: Endgame viewers are still in mourning. What’s more, we’ll find out how Peter Parker is processing the demise of his old mentor when Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out on July 2nd.