Robert Downey Jr. knows how some industry professionals feel about comic-book franchise films — but the “Iron Man” actor says that doesn’t discount his acting work.
Downey just nabbed a Golden Globe for his performance in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster “Oppenheimer,” but the storied actor says his other films were some of the best work he’ll ever do.
On the most recent episode of Rob Lowe‘s “Literally!” podcast, Downey discussed the highs and lows of working in the film industry, including the way his 2020 film “Dolittle” wasn’t the success he’d hoped for.
“I felt so exposed after being in the cocoon of Marvel, where I think I did some of the best work I will ever do, but it went a little bit unnoticed because of the genre,” Downey told Lowe.
Downey revitalized his career by portraying Tony Stark in the “Iron Man” and “Avenger” films from 2008 to 2019. “I felt like in a way I did myself a favor because the rug was pulled so definitively out from underneath me, and all the things that I was leaning on as opposed to what my understanding of confidence and security was, boy did they evaporate, and it rendered me teachable,” he said.
“And the crazy thing is, they say when the student is ready, the Nolan will come — I mean the teacher will come — and that’s what happened.”
In recent years, comic-book films have caught considerable flack from directors and actors alike, and even audiences seem to be feeling a bit of franchise fatigue. In September, acclaimed “Killers of the Flower Moon” filmmaker Martin Scorsese doubled down on his 2019 remarks slamming Marvel Cinematic Universe films as theme parks rather than cinema.
“The danger there is what it’s doing to our culture,” he told GQ. “Because there are going to be generations now that think … that’s what movies are.”
Scorsese said it was up to filmmakers to save cinema. “It’s almost like AI making a film,” he added. “And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have incredible directors and special-effects people doing beautiful artwork. But what does it mean? What do these films, what will it give you?”
And in October, “American Horror Story” star Jessica Lange similarly slammed the genre. The Oscar winner told the Telegraph that she wanted to quit acting because the industry is more focused on profit than artistic quality. “I’m not interested in these big comic-book franchise films. I think that they’ve sacrificed this art that we’ve been involved in … for the sake of profit.”
Lange, 74, told the outlet that she’s planning to retire in the near future.
“Creativity is secondary now to corporate profits,” she said. “The emphasis becomes not on the art or the artist or the storytelling. It becomes about satisfying your stockholders. It diminishes the artist and the art of filmmaking.”