Friday, September 29, 2006

Robert Downey Jr is IRON MAN? Seriously??

Aint-It-Cool-News reports...

And now Variety apparently confirms...

That director John Favreau has cast Robert Downey Jr. as Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man!

Yeah, photoshop job. Whaddaya want?

After becoming the poster-child for burnout celeb-dom following a series of drug-related problems awhile back, Downey Jr. has done an incredible job of bouncing back these past few years. He turned in an amazing lead performance in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," my favorite movie of 2005, did awesome supporting work in "A Scanner Darkly" and even brought genuine life to his thankless bad guy role in "The Shaggy Dog." Who knows how this came together, whether he sought out the role or the other way around... but there's no way to overstate the significance of this partin regards to his career: He's gone from being regarded as an unhinged, washed-up also-ran to toplining one of the biggest potential action-blockbuster franchises on the horizon right now. Robert Downey Jr. is the REVERSE Tom Cruise. (Cruise, btw, was supposed to make this movie waaaay back when.)

My immediate read is that Downey should give at least some of his thanks for actually getting this to Johnny Depp, who's ultra-profitable "Pirates" turn probably has made a lot of studios a lot more open to the idea of casting offbeat indie veterans as leads in projects like this. And for the record, it's a pretty juicy part in it's own right: Stark is a mega-wealthy playboy/industrialist inventor who, after an accident, (Vietnam shrapnel in the original 60s books) converts the cybernetic parts he now (secretly) sports to continue living into a suit of high-tech armor he uses to (also secretly) become superhero Iron Man. The character had his two biggest periods of notoriety in the mid-1960s as Marvel's resident Cold Warrior in chief (a quintessential capitalist using his all-American ingenuity to battle baddies from Communist territories like the Soviet "Titanium Man" or the Chinese "Mandarin") and then again decades later during a popular story arc that saw Stark confront a threat from within: his own alcoholism. Currently, he's leading the bad-guys-whom-we're-still-not-calling-the-bad-guys side in Marvel's "Civil War" crossover

It'll be interesting to see how the various press fronts cover this. Though let me give you a brief preview:

The mainstream movie press will be focused on this as the symbol of Downey's career rebirth come to full bloom. (Next up: Showy gimme-my-Oscar role!)

The elitist movie press will wail once more that the sky is falling in the wake of another "fine actor" "lowering" himself to the realm of those silly, silly funnybooks.

The geek world is going to have (oh hell, we're ALREADY having) a coniption at the news that a real actor of offbeat merit is taking up the helmet. The immediate, and spot-on, comparison will be Michael Keaton as Batman. The "buzz" on this one is now officially good... and will remain so until if or when someone gets the first picture of a "sucky" looking costume.

The snarky-side of the geek world will have endless amounts of fun with the juxtaposition of Downey's own noted addiction troubles with that of the (comic-book) Tony Stark. This will eventually be noticed muuuuuch later by...

...the mainstream movie press, who will make this THE question Downey gets most-often asked about by junkey journo's feigning familiarity with the material, which will eventually lead...

...director John Favreau to get really sick of re-explaining what the geek set already heard him say months back: That the alcoholic aspects of the character won't be focused-on in the first movie :)


Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the backlash, but personally I think Downey is a good choice.

And since Civil War is the only comic I've read starring Iron Man, I totally think that Downey can pull of the self-righteous douchebaggery that is Tony Stark.

Bob said...

"And since Civil War is the only comic I've read starring Iron Man, I totally think that Downey can pull of the self-righteous douchebaggery that is Tony Stark."

It's kind of sad, really... Stark segues SO well from "antihero" to "full-on fascist heavy" in Civil War so far (though not NEARLY as well as Mr. Fantastic has, yikes!), it's all the commentary you'll ever need on how little Marvel has been able to find to DO with him in the decade-and-change since the alcoholism storyline.

In the 60s, when he was in the Freshman Class of Marvel's "fractured" heroes, the idea that this virile, handsome playboy with EVERYTHING going for him had to slink back home and secretly hook himself up to life-support systems just to keep walking around and breathing... that the "Iron Man" identity was basically a high-tech iron lung... it was tragic and poetic enough on it's own.

The book has always been a good place for heavy-action and as a staging-ground for some nifty story arcs, but it's true: Villiany is the best gig they've given him in years. It's too bad they'll probably find a quick way to make him "good" again to sync-up with the movie.

Wesley said...

Kind of sad how Civil War degenerated from a shades of grey satire which relied on the readers to make up their mind to a black and white battle between good versus evil. A pity it was interesting while it lasted.

Me Want Snu Snu said...

He's not bad as Tony Stark. Four out of 5 stars.