Believe it or not, if not for Robert Downey Jr., the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies may have gone in a few different directions. It all stemmed from one pivotal decision ten years ago during the filming of the original Iron Man.
In an interview with Deadline, Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, explained that Robert Downey Jr. ad-libbed one line toward the end of the film that wound up changing the direction of the subsequent cinematic universe.
As Tony Stark prepared to read a written statement, he outed himself instead. “I am Iron Man,” the billionaire mogul declared.
While fans can argue that this was scripted and Stark was always going to reveal his identity, it actually wasn’t until Downey got his hands on the character and decided it would work better for Stark’s overall arc.
Feige explained why they kept the ad lib:
If you’re changing something for no reason, that’s one thing, but if you’re changing something because you want to double-down on the spirit of who the character is? That’s a change we’ll make. Him just blurting out ‘I am Iron Man?’ That seems very much in keeping with who that character is.
And it’s because of Downey’s decision that Feige and company were willing to go bold with future movies. It’s also why fans never saw Thor’s alternate persona, Dr. Donald Blake.
Feige said while discussing the MCU’s deviation from the source material:
It just hadn’t been done in the comics before, but it was something very much in keeping with the comics character and what we could have done.
Based on fan reaction to the MCU so far, it appears Downey made the right decision.
the “I am Iron Man” line was an ad-lib omg rdj i love you pic.twitter.com/TEbTDlYGVx
— paui (@pauicostales) July 20, 2018
Maybe it’s time for DC to take a cue from Marvel?
Then again, some deviations from the comics weren’t as well accepted.
Now that we know the truth, Twitter user Rodney Cannon (@CannonMan) wants to settle a debate.
Ok, @NerdOfGodcast best cinematic ad-lib of all time?
A) Empire Strikes Back “I know.”
B) Iron Man: “I am Iron Man”
— Rodney Cannon (@CannonMan) July 22, 2018