The following story contains massive spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. Stop reading now if you haven’t yet seen the movie.
It was the very last scene that Joe and Anthony Russo shot for Avengers: Endgame. For all that they know, it might go down as the last thing they ever filmed in the MCU. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), staring at Thanos (Josh Brolin) and snapping his fingers, reducing the Mad Titan and all of his minions to dust.
It was a reshoot. And according to the brothers, it almost didn’t happen. During a recent conversation the ReelBlend podcast had with Joe and Anthony Russo about the making of Avengers: Endgame, they revealed how the pivotal shot came about … and how it almost didn’t happen. Let’s start with Joe Russo, who told ReelBlend:
It’s an interesting story. I had dinner with [Robert Downey Jr.] like two weeks before we were supposed to shoot it. And he was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t really want to go back and get into that emotional state. It’ll take… it’s hard.’ And crazily enough, Joel Silver, the producer, was at the dinner. He’s an old buddy of Robert’s. And Joel jumps in and he’s like, ‘Robert, what are you talking about? That’s the greatest line I’ve ever heard! You gotta say this line! You have to do this!’ So thank God that Joel Silver was at dinner, because he helped us talk Robert into doing that line.
That’s incredible that the sequence of Tony’s snap, and the perfect line delivery, is a reshoot that the brothers didn’t originally have during the initial production. They always knew they needed a reply to Thanos. But it took them a few tries before they landed on the right reply. As the brother recalled to ReelBlend:
Anthony Russo: Originally when he snapped, he didn’t say, ‘I am Iron Man.’ The idea came up while we were in post production. Our editor, Jeff Ford…
Joe Russo: We were sitting on our editorial, and we were reworking that sequence, and Thanos says ‘I am inevitable.’ And we were like, ‘We need a response to that. What is the response to that?’ And our editor said, ‘What about I am Iron Man?’ And we were like, ‘That’s it!’
Anthony: We must shoot that, we have to shoot that!
I knew this story when I went back to see Avengers: Endgame for my third time. And sure enough, knowing this, it looks like a reshot scene, though you’d never know unless you knew to look out for it. It’s such a monumental moment of sacrifice, a tragic and heroic act that redefines the legacy of Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it’s the idea callback to the final line of Jon Favreau’s first Iron Man movie.
As it turns out, though, the logistics of the reshoot also turned into an historic callback. As Anthony Russo elaborated to ReelBlend:
And we did that shot at a studio in Los Angeles called Raleigh Studios. And the stage that we shot that shot on was adjacent to the stage where Robert Downey Jr. screen tested for Iron Man.
Chills. Goosebumps. Nerd tears.
Having the Russos on ReelBlend was an amazing accomplishment for us, and we are thrilled that they took the time out of their incredibly busy schedule to talk about the making of the biggest film in our lifetimes. The movie continues to destroy at the box office, setting new records left and right. And now we know some incredible behind-the-scenes trivia facts about the making of, and we hope you enjoyed it.
ReelBlend is a weekly podcast hosted by Sean O’Connell, Kevin McCarthy and Jake Hamilton. Find it on your normal podcast portals, and give us a subscribe if you liked what you heard here today.