WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
With Avengers: Endgame, Marvel wrapped up 11 years worth of storytelling, finishing the arcs of its six original heroes. However, while The Avengers kicked off Thanos' arc with its mid-credits scene, Iron Man was the catalyst for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. That being said, directors Joe and Anthony Russo wanted to make sure they had Robert Downey Jr.'s blessing before they sent Tony Stark off into the sunset.
"We did pitch Robert his arc because he kicked off the entire MCU," Anthony Russo said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "The Tony Stark arc is the longest and perhaps fullest in the MCU. Once we decided we wanted this kind of ending for the character, we certainly wanted to make sure Robert was comfortable with it, just because of his enormous contribution to the MCU. We did pitch it out. We went over to meet with him and we pitched it out to him."
If the six original Avengers were the focus of Endgame, Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark was the man of the hour -- or three hours. When deciding what to do with the character, the Russos knew there would have to be massive changes after Endgame, but even so, the decision to kill Tony didn't come lightly for any of the parties involved.
"A lot of the actors are not opinionated about what we do," Anthony continued. "They like the fact that we are sort of in control of these stories and we are driving where they should go and we have a vision for where they should go and they trust in that. I think Downey may have had mixed emotions about thinking about [where Tony Stark ends up in Endgame], but I think at the end of the day, he totally accepted it."
Although Tony does meet his end in the aptly titled Avengers: Endgame, the film provides the character with plenty of closure, even featuring a couple of callbacks to the original Iron Man. Perhaps most notably, an Iron Man tribute comes in the form of the post-credits scene --or lack thereof -- featuring the sound of Stark's armor clanking. However, while some fans believed this was a hint to someone else picking up the Iron mantle in the future, the Russos confirmed it was just a soundbite from Iron Man of Tony building the Mark 1 armor.
With Endgame, the series that launched with Iron Man's creation closes out with the hero's sacrifice, ending one chapter of the MCU as another begins to unfold.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.