Robert Downey Jr. reflects on playing Iron Man

Of all the teary goodbyes in Avengers: Endgame, perhaps the teariest was the hero's death of Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe by introducing the character in 2008's Iron Man and memorably portrayed the Armoured Avenger in 10 movies over the course of 11 years.

Downey brought much joy to millions of fans in the role, so at a press event for his new film, Dolittle — his first non-Marvel movie in five years — we asked the actor to tell us the most valuable thing he took from the experience of playing Iron Man.

In a nutshell, it's all about the children.

"There's something about when a kid looks at you invests you with these magical properties. Because we're all so — I'll speak for myself — broken and imperfect, and just trying to do the right thing and stay out of my own way," said Downey, who was joined by his costars Harry Collett, Carmel Laniado, John Cena, Craig Robinson and Michael Sheen (watch above).

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"But when you are idealised you realise, 'Oh, it's not an obligation… but you get to stand up inside yourself and live as an example.' So it's really put me in check, because I hate disappointing youth."

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in the finale of Avengers: Endgame. (Disney)

Downey did not, however, feel too sentimental when asked how tough it was to say goodbye to Tony after all those years.

"The contract was up, no problem," he cracked. "When the wires stopped coming through, I was more than ready to let go."

Dolittle comes to UK cinemas in February.

Watch the trailer: