Rambling Dispatches: Iron Man & Downey Jr.


Every Thursday in Rambling Dispatches, resident malcontent Quinn McGee rants about whatever he damn well pleases.

So something of a box office phenomenon happened last weekend, something I missed but in all honestly wasn’t that upset about missing. I’m not talking about The Great Gatsby, which is starting to look like a classic of case of biting off more than you can chew. It’s unfortunate, really, because the book was one of the better required reading materials I’ve ever read, and under the hand of the director of Moulin Rouge (one of my favorite movies), I expected quite a lot. It sucks for Leonardo DiCaprio too, since I bet he was fantastic and it’ll just be another role he gets ignored for when it comes time for award season. Ah well, you lose some and then lose some more, eh Leo?

Back to the topic at hand: Iron Man 3 cleaned up in a big way its opening weekend, making Disney another staggeringly large chunk of money. It made $175 million in three days, with a predicted $1 billion worldwide brought in by the time this article will post. The movie only cost $200 million to make, basically pocket change for a media giant. I keep addressing Disney like it’s some huge, scary business, because it absolutely is. They are the guy who looked at the recession and saw an opportunity to buy all the houses on the street from the owners at a steal, in order to go and flip them. They bought Marvel for $4 billion after Marvel got into financial trouble from expanding too quickly, and made almost $1 billon off one movie alone outside of all the merchandising, and The Avengers made even more. I’m not even counting the other movies yet to come, so Disney has more than made up all the money that they spent, and they haven’t even scratched the surface of the number of characters that Marvel can bring to bear on the silver screen. And now they have Star Wars, because they were the ones with the most money when George Lucas was just quitting. If they’re not assembling a monopoly, then I don’t know what qualifies. They created a product that everyone uses (children’s movies) when no one else was, and made all this money that rolled into this current generation. Do they sound like a guy you all hate? Because they are, in huge corporation form.

Anyway, Iron Man 3’s success brought with it a resurgence of the whole “Robert Downey Jr. is not going to be Iron Man anymore” argument. The fear is actually warranted, because The Avengers 2 will be out in two years and there are now talks of an Iron Man 4. With this kind of discussion, there are a few more interesting questions raised.

One of the questions is if we even need an Iron Man 4, and I think I can say pretty honestly that we don’t. Let’s get real for a second. Iron Man was a fantastic film followed by a less than spectacular sequel that somehow took everything good in the first one and just kind of threw it away. Iron Man 3, I hear, is kind of in-between as far as quality goes, showing a return to the darker moments that made Iron Man so real and were sorely missing in the sequel. It’s good that they learned from their mistakes, but I can’t help but draw the comparison between the Iron Man trilogy and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Pirates was another Disney trilogy that slowly got worse over time, because it was just stretching a movie that was complete to begin with. Iron Man is kind of the same thing, only the whole Iron Man series is largely more tolerable and so far hasn’t turned any of its stars into one-trick ponies. (Looking at you, Johnny Depp, and I’ll be back on this when Lone Ranger time rolls around.) What I’m trying to get at is that Disney has a horrible habit of beating the dead horse just for the paycheck. I think an Iron Man 4 is going to just negatively affect the whole series and really lead to Robert Downey Jr. wanting to leave a sinking ship.

Which brings me to my next point: Can there be an Iron Man without Robert Downey Jr.? I’d argue not, because Stan Lee himself said that Robert Downey Jr. was made for the role of Iron Man. When the creator of the character comes out and says that a guy is what he envisioned and what he thinks fits the part, you should probably listen. Who here can actually imagine someone else in the role of Iron Man? Downey Jr. is just like Tony Stark in real life in a lot of ways outside of the whole hero mythos, which is why we connect with him so deeply. I don’t think any other actor can pull it off, because I don’t think any other actor is the character. It wouldn’t be the first time that Disney put its foot down because of money and a difficult actor, though. It’s the reason you didn’t see Edward Norton as The Hulk in The Avengers, and they cast the better Hulk you see today. (Mark Ruffalo is the Hulk I want forever.)

The Avengers 2 will be a good movie, probably not as great as The Avengers, but Disney honestly needs Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in that movie. And in that movie, they should get rid of Iron Man in some way. They should let him off the hook because he’s tired of the role. They need to retire Iron Man and focus on one of the dozens of other characters they own. Maybe a new Hulk movie with Mark Ruffalo, because that would kick ass. Or maybe they can finally do a Deadpool movie and get it into our hands so we can get the taste of the horrible Ryan Reynolds portrayal out of our mouths.