ROBERT DOWNEY JR. IS EPIC IN IRON MAN
I just got back from seeing the movie Iron Man and all I can say is WOW! It is without a doubt the BEST comic book movie of all-time. You may not think that’s very significant or setting the bar very high, but the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr., did something this week more successfully than anyone in American history. He made the successful transition from actor to MOVIE STAR in one single $100 million weekend.
At this point I have to admit I’ve never been much of a Robert Downey Jr. fan. Like most of Americans I viewed him as somewhat of a joke. After all if you’re too much of a drug addict to be an ACTOR why would anybody hire you? Here’s a synopsis of Robert Downey jr.’s life all from his bio and trivia pages on imdb.com:
Son of independent filmmaker Robert Downey Sr.
Dropped out of Santa Monica High School at age 17.
Claims that his father is the one who introduced him to drugs, by offering him a marijuana joint when he was 8.
Was a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” (1985)
He’s the first regular cast member of SNL to be nominated for an Academy Award in the category “Best Actor in a Leading Role”.
Lived with Sarah Jessica Parker for 7 years during the 1980s.
During traffic stop for speeding, he was arrested for drunk driving, possession of heroin, and possession of an unloaded pistol in his pickup truck. This was his first reported brush with the law at age 31. He was given a suspended prison sentence of 3 years, and granted probation with requirements of random drug testing and drug counselling.
Remanded to a secure drug rehabilitation center.
Probation revoked after continued drug use.
Once wandered into a stranger’s house and passed out on a child’s bed that he thought was his own. He was arrested for being under the influence of drugs which was a 3rd violation of his probation.
After 3 violations of “probation” for drug and alcohol abuse in a three year span of time since he was spared a prison sentence and placed on probation, Malibu Judge Lawrence Mira stated that he was out of options and that he was sentencing Downey to prison to save his life because Downey would not take the responsibility of refraining from alcohol and drug use on his own.
Released from jail to complete his six-month jail sentence at a drug rehabilitation center. Downey caused a stir when he was freed to work on a movie.
Downey re-arrested on drugs and weapons charges in Palm Springs, California at the luxurious Merv Griffin resort, after an anonymous tip to police. Downey was found alone, with cocaine and methamphetimines.
Arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance in Los Angeles after he was found wandering in an alley. He was fired from the TV series “Ally McBeal.”
It’s pretty hard to pitch people on your potential after you’ve turned 40. Especially when you’ve spent two and a half decades in the public eye as a drug addict loser. Downey’s behavior may have been tolerated from a Hollywood megastar, but keep in mind that he has had virtually NO commercial success as an actor. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never met anybody who paid money to see Chaplin or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in a theater. And those are Downey’s successes.
So, naturally I was a little bit skeptical when I read that a major studio had chosen Robert Downey Jr. to be the lead man in a movie about a comic book super hero. After all, Hollywood decided to greenlight Ben Affleck as Daredevil before this.
SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME
And it’s safe to say that all of the really GOOD comic book hero parts had already been taken. Superman, Batman, and Spiderman have already been done (and, in the case of the first two, REDONE.) Movies on the X-Men and Fantastic Four have already been made. By the time you get to Iron Man, you’re pretty low on the Super Hero food chain.
As it turns out, casting Robert Downey Jr. was an inspired and brilliant choice. Unlike all of the comic-book-heroes-come-to-life before him Downey is playing the secret identity NOT the hero. After all, how much talent does it take to play Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent? They’re boring. And once you put on the suit (or cape) it’s all special effects. That’s why the Batman franchise can cast three different actors (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney) in four movies and it literally doesn’t matter. People will see the movie anyway. Even though the first guy’s a comedian, the second guy is blonde and the third guy is a pacifist. Who cares?
When making Superman it’s ironic that Hollywood has chosen wooden actors (Christopher Reeve and Josh Hartnett) to play The Man of Steel. And in Spiderman an effeminate Tobey Maguire was cast even though physically he was small enough to convincingly play a jockey in Seabiscuit.
Downey breaks the mold in Iron Man. Before you believe he’s a Superhero you have to buy into him as industrialist/billionaire, playboy, Tony Stark. That’s because Iron Man is the first comic book hero who is self-made. He’s not an alien or the victim of some freak cosmic accident. He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider. Without giving away too much of the plot, the Stark character faces adversity and overcomes it by creating an iron suit that MAKES him a superhero.
In order to pull off Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. simply needs to make you believe he has the same characteristics as the fictional Tony Stark-brilliant, underachieving, hard-drinking, partying and irresponsible. But able to turn his life around. Turns out Robert Downey Jr. is playing himself. And he does it brilliantly.