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Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man in »Avengers: Endgame«: »He was the head of the acting department«

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Everett Collection / IMAGO

In a total of ten films, Robert Downey Jr. played the inventor Tony Stark, who can transform into the superhero Iron Man. He became an emblematic figure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which opened in 2008 with »Iron Man«.

In this respect, »Avengers: Endgame« in 2019 had quite a shock in store for the millions of moviegoers, who temporarily made the film the highest-grossing film ever: the death of Tony Stark.

Never Iron Man again? This notion is hard for many Marvel fans to bear. And so, since then, rumors have been circulating that Robert Downey Jr. and his character could return to the big screen.

But now came a rejection of such fan fantasies: Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios since 2007 and creator of the Cinematic Universe, expressed himself very clearly to the magazine »Vanity Fair«.

"We're going to hold on to this moment and we're not going to touch it again," Feige said of Tony Stark's death. After all, they had been working towards this for many years. "And we would never magically undo it, in any form."

Feige's quote comes from a US magazine cover story about Robert Downey Jr., whose deadline was before the end of the actors' strike in Hollywood. That's why Downey himself was not available as an interview partner, but a large number of companions were.

Tax tips from the cheerleader

Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of the film "Avengers: Endgame," for example, say that it was difficult to persuade Downey to shoot the death scene after the fact. We had already said goodbye in tears," they say, and he had been promised: "It's the very last time you'll have to do it."

On the set of the "Avengers" ensemble films, Robert Downey Jr. enjoyed a special position, says Kevin Feige. We used to joke that Robert is the head of the acting department. Everyone looked up at him." Downey was a cheerleader and advisor to his colleagues, Feige said. Chris Hemsworth, for example, gave tax advice.

The reason for the »Vanity Fair« cover story was Downey's Oscar chances. In his role as antagonist in the biopic »Oppenheimer«, he has a good chance of being nominated. It would be a completion of the acting career of the now 58-year-old, which seemed to be almost over in the nineties and early noughties after drug capers.

In any case, Kevin Feige reports that it was not easy for him and Jon Favreau, the director of the first "Iron Man" film, to push through Robert Downey Jr. as the lead actor. Downey had to get involved in test recordings in order to convince the company's superiors.