[The following contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, obviously.]
These days, a lot of big franchise movies don’t really come together until they’re in the editing booth (Rogue One is a famous example of this), and Avengers: Endgame is unsurprisingly no exception. What is surprising, though, is that one of the movie’s biggest, most seemingly obvious moments not only wasn’t in the script, but it didn’t even come from directors Joe and Anthony Russo. Speaking at a recent Q&A event (as reported by /Film), the directors revealed that the idea for Tony Stark’s big moment—the thing he does right before he does the thing—actually came from editor Jeff Ford just three months before the movie premiered.
[Okay, last chance to turn back.]
We are referring, of course, to “…I am Iron Man,” the last thing Tony says before using the Infinity Stones to wipe out Thanos’ army—a move that ultimately results in his death. It’s a line that very cleanly sums up everything about the character’s arc, seeing as how it was the last line in the original Iron Man, and it ties directly in with Thanos’ gloating refrain of “I am inevitable” (which he says immediately before realizing Tony swiped the Stones). Somehow, though, despite the fact that Thanos’ repeated use of that line seemed like a very obvious setup for Tony in retrospect, the Russos revealed that he originally said nothing at that moment. “We were in the editing room going, ‘He has to say something,’” the Russos noted, “This a character who has lived and died by quips.” Yeah guys, he literally died right after that, and you couldn’t come up with anything for him to say? Even something half-assed like “You’ve got a big ugly chin, Barney The Dinosaur” would’ve been better than nothing.
Thankfully, we dodged a bullet on this one. Ford, who has worked on all of the Russos’ Marvel movies, pitched the idea of “I am Iron Man” in January, and they said they immediately got cameras and put together a plan to get Robert Downey Jr. saying that line. It was apparently the last thing they shot during reshoots and the last thing that came through in special effects, so it really came down to the last minute. Now, we weren’t the ones tasked with making a movie as absurdly gigantic as Endgame, but it seems wild that any form of this story could’ve existed with Thanos repeatedly saying “I am inevitable” and there being absolutely no payoff.
We’re not saying Jeff Ford deserves more credit for the quality of Endgame than the Russos or screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely, but he better be getting a fair cut of that billion dollars.