It’s incredibly tough to pick the most significant scene in Avengers: Endgame because pretty much everything that happens in the movie’s third act is key to the overall story of the franchise as it wraps up the past decade of the MCU. However, if you had to, you’d probably single out the death of Iron Man. Armed with the Infinity Gauntlet, Tony Stark faces Thanos and tells him “I am Iron Man,” before wiping the Mad Titan and his goons from existence. But the blowback from using the Infinity Stones proves fatal.
As it was such an important moment, the visual effects crew who had to bring the scene to life were naturally under a lot of pressure to get it right. Weta Digital VFX supervisor Matt Aitken spoke to ComicBook.com recently and discussed how his team were under strict instructions about how to portray Stark’s injuries: make them serious enough to be believably life-threatening, yes, but not enough that they take away his dignity in his final moments.
“There was a balancing act to achieve there. We had to make sure that his wounds looked severe enough to be fatal, there couldn’t be any doubts about that, that’s the whole point of his sacrifice. But we had to allow him to keep his dignity through that sequence, that was something that the filmmakers made very clear to us, that they didn’t want it to be so over the top gory that it lost its seriousness.”
This meant that there was much drafting of Stark’s injuries through concept art and a lot of to-and-fro with the filmmakers, as Aitken explained:
“We approached it initially through concept art and we worked up lots of different levels of damage through concept art and reviewed that with the filmmakers at Marvel. Then we worked that up in CG as a digital prosthetic. That was great because that gave us the opportunity to review the level of damage in the cast and make changes accordingly.”
As you’ve probably heard by now, the “I Am Iron Man” scene was the last thing shot for the movie. In fact, a moving behind-the-scenes video of Robert Downey Jr.’s golden wrap as Stark in Avengers: Endgame was recently released online and given how emotional shooting that must’ve been, it’s fair enough that we’ve heard the actor had to be convinced to go back and film the moment in reshoots after the initial cut of the scene didn’t include that iconic line.