Avengers: Endgame director explains why Iron Man had to die instead of Captain America

Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo has explained why they killed off Iron Man instead of Captain America in the action-packed conclusion to The Infinity Saga.

While promoting the launch of the Sands International Film Festival of St. Andrews, the filmmaker argued that Tony Stark was always “supposed to die”, and that Steve Rogers sacrificing himself to stop Thanos would have been too predictable.

“If you think of Captain America as a character, you go ‘Okay, Captain America dying is fairly obvious,’ right? That is, you know, something he would do based on the character,” Russo told Deadline (opens in new tab), as he acknowledged Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. “You know, this is a guy who, you know, offered to be a guinea pig in a science experiment. 

“He’s intrinsically a hero. Like there’s not a lot of complexity there. It might be emotionally impactful because you like him. You know he’s a very likable character, but that’s not necessarily the most compelling arc. Tony Stark is a character who was supposed to die.”

Russo, who helmed the Marvel movie with his brother Anthony Russo, went on to say that Stark “should have died” in the first five minutes of 2008’s Iron Man, but he didn’t, and subsequently learned to temper his ego. In the films that followed, however, his pride has conflicted with him being a hero – such as when he self-righteously created anarchic AI bot Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Thanos in Avengers: Endgame

(Image credit: Disney / Marvel)

“That seems like a more interesting arc to us to take a character who had an ego because to die for others, you have to defeat the rights of that,” said Russo. “It seemed like the more compelling arc to us that it would be Stark who died. So that it would be a richer more complex arc, and that’s why we chose him.”

Tony Stark wasn’t the only Avengers to give his life in the fight against the Mad Titan. Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, threw herself off a cliff at Vormir so that Clint Barton/Hawkeye could obtain the Soul Stone, and use the Infinity Gauntlet to reverse Thanos’s population-halving snap. As for Cap’s fate? Well, after dropping the Infinity Stones back in their original timelines, he opted to stay in the past and live out his days with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).

Avengers: Endgame is currently streaming on Disney Plus. If you’re in the mood for a comic book-based story but don’t fancy a rewatch, check out our roundup of the best superhero movies of all time for some viewing inspiration.

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