Robert Downey Jr. uses cue cards to play Tony Stark

In fact, Tony's sunglasses became a central plot point in the 2019 film Spider-Man: Homecoming. After Tony died in Avengers: Endgame, he bequeathed his sunglasses to the teenage Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Unbeknownst to Peter, the sunglasses were equipped with high-tech artificial intelligence that gave him access to a series of space assassination missiles built by Tony. Tony appears to have reneged on his promise to disarm.

However, back in Iron Man, there was no such bells and whistles on Tony's sunglasses. They were just a practical acting decision so that the audience wouldn't notice Downey Jr.'s eyes rolling over his lines. As the actor explained:

“There's a scene where he's testing weapons and he says, 'Is it better to be feared or respected? Are both too demanding?' and [director] Jon [Favreau] We wrote this sentence word for word while filming that day. I put on my sunglasses because everything was on the cue card. […] What's more, we feel like we just came up with this, and we love it, and there's no trick we can't use to hide the fact that we're making it up as we go.

Considering how elaborate the Marvel Universe can get, it's surprising that Iron Man contains an element of improvisation. In fact, Favreau even said in interviews that the famous Avengers post-credits tease was just a wink to fans rather than a statement of intent for the cinematic universe. It was not until Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 that such a plan could be firmly implemented.

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