Iron Man himself made a very special visit to Alex Mead this week, and the seven-year-old reacted as any boy his age would when meeting a superhero – he put on his best bow tie and beamed! Robert Downey Jr. called the experience of gifting Alex, who was born with a partially developed right arm, with his very own prosthetic Iron Man arm an “absolute privilege” and shared a cute video of their time together on Facebook.
Robert was there in character as billionaire inventor Tony Stark, the alter ego of Iron Man. He can be seen shaking little Alex’s hand, commenting on his bow tie and asking about his travels, before pulling out two boxes; one with an arm for him and one with an arm for Alex.
The arm was created by Albert Manero, from the University of Central Florida, who builds and donates low-cost limbs to children around the world. It cost just £235 in materials to make, according to Microsoft’s The Collective Project, which showcases the work of students making positive changes in their communities. In comparison, traditional false limbs can cost as much as approximately $50,700 CAD.
“Half the time, I design one of these and it keeps breaking on me,” Robert, in character, tells Alex. “What I do is I keep working on it, like you’re working on it with Albert.”
“He keeps working and working on it until he gets it right,” Alex replies, with a shy smile.
Despite his efforts, Robert is rumbled by the little boy in the clip. Asked at one point if he knows who he is meeting, Alex smiles and says, “Iron Man”, but then adds that his name is “Robert”, not Tony Stark, much to the actor’s amusement.
“Had the absolute privilege of presenting a brand spanking new 3D-printed bionic Iron Man to Alex, the most dapper 7-year-old I’ve ever met," Robert wrote in a caption alongside the video. He went on to thank Albert and Limbitless Solution for "their work making artificial limbs like this more affordable for families with kids who want to show the playground how badass they are”.