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I am Iron Man
Mass hysteria prevailed this Friday across the globe. And theatres in Hyderabad and other cities on the planet were flocked by masses to watch a celebration called 'Avengers: Endgame'. Plans were made months in advance and the excitement was palpable as there was a beeline at cinemas all over the world akin to the magnum opus 'Baahubali' in India.
'Avengers: Endgame' the epic conclusion was a result of 21 movies and 11 years. In the year 2008, there was an idea to revamp the way the movie industry consumed superhero content. In what seemed to be a bold choice, Marvel Comics decided that the time was ripe for the building of a superhero universe, a cohesive story spread across multiple movies with a team of directors overlooked by one man-in-charge. On paper, it seemed like a foolhardy move considering the fact the 'The Dark Knight' had been till then the highest grossing superhero movie and Batman is and always will be a commonly known character.
Director/ actor Jon Favreau and Executive Producer Kevin Feige decided to roll the dice and gamble everything on a B-list superhero, 'Iron Man' played by, Robert Downey Jr (RDJ). It seems like that RDJ was born to play this role, however, that was not the case as Downey had a history of drug abuse and multiple arrests. While the plan to churn out 'Iron Man' was being laid, Downey was just released from rehab. This was a time in the industry when no one was looking at Downey and the industry was starting to shun him. Now imagine Iron Man without RDJ! Yes, it is now impossible to fathom about anyone but Downey stepping into shoes of Iron Man. However, in the beginning Marvel too was sceptical about casting Downey.
Jon Favreau, the man who helmed 'Iron Man' and 'Iron Man 2', knew that RDJ was the right actor to pull off the role of Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist – Tony Stark. Jon insisted that Downey would be to 'Iron Man' what Johnny Depp is to 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series.
In an interview, Jon said: "It was my job as a director to show that it was the best choice creatively... and now the Marvel Universe is the biggest franchise in film history."
"Everybody knew he was talented. Certainly, by studying the Iron Man role and developing that script I realised more and more how the character seemed to line up with Robert in all the good and bad ways. The story of Iron Man was really the story of Robert's career."
As Marvel was repeatedly rejecting the idea of casting RDJ, little did they know that their one step would create a 22-film deep universe, which now seems ever expanding! The first 'Iron Man' released in 2008, with the team crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.
'Iron Man' proved to be the breakthrough film throwing the fans into a frenzy. RDJ was back in the business and how! From there Downey took the mantle of making the dream of Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige into reality. It was the beginning a long journey.
When receiving the American Cinematheque award, Downey said: "Sooner or later, if you pull the one-armed bandit enough, you're going to come up with gold bars. And now it just feels, at least for a little while here, that the machine is fixed … I definitely had plenty of years of self-imposed purgatory, but I'm hot for the next 18 months or so. I'm coming up on 50 and I want to do more."
If RDJ would have tanked in the role of Iron Man, there was a possibility that we would not have got an opportunity to witness the marvellous and majestic MCU and its epic conclusion 'Endgame'. Let us look at the journey of Iron Man, which brought us here.
Iron Man 2
This movie released in 2019 with Downey once again reprising the role of the character, who had by now become a people's favourite. With a modicum budget, an improved script and a tremendous amount of risk, Iron Man was the underdog no one expected to win, much less gain the popularity and notoriety that the character has today.
'Iron Man 2' saw the Marvel Universe expand a little more with the introduction of Nick Fury played by Samuel L Jackson and Natasha Romanoff aka The Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. Though the movie was not that well received by the fans, it made its fair share in the box office and expanded the cinematic Universe of Marvel Studios to a large extent. Downey's reprisal of the character cemented people's beliefs that like Christopher Reeves and Superman, Downey could not be separated from Tony Stark.
In 2012, after launching several stand-alone superhero movies, Marvel decided to make another bold move, this time with Joss Whedon at the helm and what would ultimately be the first super-spectacle in Marvel's repertoire, the Avengers were formed. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk; from being an alone superhero in each of their movies to being part of an ensemble cast, Downey's chemistry with his fellow actors and their superhero alter egos worked like a charm. By the end of the movie, 'Iron Man' was one of the top dogs of the team and an alternative leader to Captain America.
Iron Man 3
Though widely considered by critics and fans as the worst of the 'Iron Man' trilogy, this movie, however, gave Downey Jr the chance to show off his acting range. After the events of the Avengers leaves Tony Stark rattled about the future and the safety of his loved ones, he comes obsessed with trying to build a perfect suit of armour and becomes prone to anxiety attacks. His trials and tribulations experienced in the movie ultimately make him seek peace and quiet and give up the mantle of Iron Man, leaving the viewers wondering whether this would be the last of him and also raising the question, is Iron Man the suit or the man who wears the suit?
Avengers: Age of Ultron
After the smashing success of 'Avengers', Marvel decided to once again put Joss Whedon behind the driving seat for the sequel. The sequel didn't garner as much attention as the first instalment did, but it still managed to break records and pave the way for the infinity stones storyline. Iron Man's paranoia in 'Iron Man 3' results in making an AI that turns into a murder bot and wants to extinguish humanity. Tony Stark experiences the helplessness of what he's created like Frankenstein and his monster and is plagued by nightmares of him failing and watching the Avengers and his entire world succumb before his eyes and him realising that something much bigger is going on and that everything that had occurred so far had just been a part of someone's plan.
Captain America: Civil War
This movie explored the dynamics between the Avengers themselves. After the events of Ultron result in strong government surveillance against the Avengers, they split into two halves, one for the surveillance led by Iron Man and one against led by Captain America. Till this movie, the audience has always seen the Avengers having a camaraderie of sorts but now Iron Man is against Captain America and many other Avengers. What results in an epic throwdown between the Avengers at an airport finally concludes in Tony Stark learning the truth about the death of his parents and dissolving his friendship with Captain America and the Avengers too. Tony's obsession with safety and believing he has the power to stop the fore-coming events makes him take questionable steps and measures but, in the end, he believes that it is for the greater good.
Civil War saw the introduction of many new Marvel characters especially the people's favourite, spider-man. Tony Stark recruits him to fight for him against Captain America and later adopts a mentor like a relationship with him. Though not having much screen time, Robert establishes his relationship with Peter Parker and starts viewing him as a surrogate son. He sees himself within the young teen and tries to mentor him to be a better hero than he was and to avoid making the same mistakes he did when he started out.
Avengers: Infinity War
One of the most ambitious superhero undertakings ever made, which grossed more than 2 billion in the worldwide box office. 'Avengers: Infinity War' saw the story of the infinity stones come to a close with the Avengers battling the mad Titan Thanos and ultimately losing the battle and watching half the universe being dusted. Tony Stark finally approaches the foe, who has plagued his nightmares since the events of Avengers in 2012 and despite all his power and ingenuity sees his friends and surrogate son being erased from existence and he is lost in space adrift.
Fast-forward to 2019, the final movie of the Infinity Saga, 'Endgame' is a visual spectacle like no other. Having almost all the Marvel characters introduced so far, this is a movie the Russo brothers have made to fulfil the dream of every comic book fan and as Tony Stark says in 'Endgame' - "Part of the journey is the end"; having a fitting conclusion, which neatly wraps up multiple storylines, as expected by fans all across the world - this proved to be the endgame for many Avengers.
It was RDJ who rose from the ashes like a phoenix and on whose shoulders the world has seen the epicness in motion. 'We love you 3000 Iron Man'.