A new Vanity Fair cover story dives deep into Robert Downey Jr.‘s journey from Hollywood bad boy, to box office superhero, to what many believe will be his third Oscar nomination, for his portrayal of Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer.

Jon Favreau and now-Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige pushed for casting Downey as Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man.

Feige recalled “the Marvel board being nervous at putting all of their chips in their future films on somebody who famously had those legal troubles in the past.”

He adds, “I wasn’t very good — and I’m still not great — at taking no for an answer … I try to figure out ways to make it as clear to other people why we should head in a direction.”

That included a screen test that netted Downey the job.

Billions of dollars at the box office later, Downey said farewell to Tony Stark: With a finger snap, he defeated Thanos and sacrificed himself to save the world in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.

And despite recent reports, Tony isn’t coming back, Feige says.

“We all worked very hard for many years to get to that [moment], and we would never want to magically undo it in any way,” he insists.

That momentous finger snap — and Tony’s defiant last words: “I am Iron Man” — came via a reshoot after the “tearful goodbyes” when the movie wrapped, director Joe Russo says.

Co-director Anthony Russo says it was “difficult” for Downey, noting, “[W]e were shooting on a stage directly opposite where he auditioned for Tony Stark. So his last line as Tony Stark was shot literally a couple hundred feet from his original audition that got him the role.”

Joe says, “We promised him it would be the last time we made him do it — ever.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.