“He didn’t want to be the tortured lonely man”: Robert Downey Jr. Made a Major Change to His Iron Man Role for 1 Movie That Changed MCU Forever

Robert Downey Jr. knew how he wanted to play Iron Man so that his character did not become just a cog in The Avengers wheel

Robert Downey Jr. Made a Major Change to His Iron Man Role for 1 Movie That Changed MCU Forever


  • Robert Downey Jr. was a major part of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • He played Iron Man and later joined the rest of the Avengers in The Avengers (2012).
  • Director Joss Whedon had prior experience working with a big cast and knew what he wanted.
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Robert Downey Jr. was (and probably still is) the very first name one relates to when we talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He, along with his impeccable portrayal of Iron Man, single-handedly brought MCU the name and fame it craved before Marvel Studios became the giant franchise it is today.

Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man

Downey Jr. soon had his cohort, the OG6 – who came in to form the Avengers for the Joss Whedon directorial movie. The Avengers (2012) became a thing of its own, with Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and Mark Rufallo’s Hulk coming in on the big screen together for the first time.

With so many people in the mix for the first time, director Joss Whedon had a lot on his plate. Fortunately, he had prior experience working with a big cast. And he had actors who knew what they wanted their characters to be like in the movies.


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Joss Whedon’s Experience Came in Handy!

Working with an ensemble cast previously came in handy for the director. He also had actors who knew what they were doing, were mostly established in their roles, and had a pretty good idea of where they wanted their characters to go. And mostly, he had one Robert Downey Jr.

Joss Whedon | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Joss Whedon | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Iron Man fame had his own way of doing things, and the guy in the director’s chair had his. But as fate would have it, their different ways of working on a scene did not hinder the process. Instead, this made it fun for them both. As Whedon stated in an interview with Yahoo, working with Downey Jr. was a “really healthy and delightful collaboration.”


‘We would try different things. He is very collaborative. He loves notes. He loves to be guided and worked with. He is not trying to steamroller over me. He is really trying to create it side-by-side with me. So it ended up being a really healthy and delightful collaboration.’

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Joss Whedon also mentioned how the actor would make his own observations, discuss with the creative team and his director, and try to shape his character into a more fulfilling persona.

How Robert Downey Jr. Reshaped Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. had played Iron Man aka Tony Stark twice- Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010) – before 2012’s The Avengers came along. So he had a good enough idea about his character before he was thrust into an ensemble. The character of Iron Man from the movies is not an exact replica of the one in Marvel Comics. And the actor playing it had a big hand in that being so.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame

As Whedon went on to elaborate in the Yahoo interview, Downey Jr. didn’t want his character to “wrapped up in one thing” without thinking of others, without having the bigger picture in his head.

‘He didn’t want to be the tortured lonely man, which I totally get. And it was easy to make him as delightful and gregarious as he can be and still go, well, there is a piece missing and it’s the piece that makes him an Avenger.’

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Robert Downey Jr. reshaped the character of Iron Man in a way that made it more fulfilling, not only for the actor himself but the fans as well. There’s a reason people are still clamoring for his return in any way possible, even after his character got a proper send-off at the end of Avengers: Endgame (2019), as Iron Man sacrificed himself to save the universe and the family he made over the years.

Swagata Das

Written by Swagata Das

Articles Published: 313

Swagata works as a Senior Features Editor at FandomWire. Having previously worked as a Content Writer, her passion for everything pop culture became her true calling as she now works with a global team of writers to brainstorm unique, groundbreaking ideas. Having done her Masters in English Literature, Swagata is a self-professed K-Pop addict with an affinity to work her charms on unsuspecting friends to induct them into the fandom cult.