The MCU has had such a storied journey so far. 10 years, 22 films and billions of dollars at the box office. Thinking back, the franchise does owe a lot to Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron Man. Had that been a critical and/or box office failure, we wouldn’t be where we are right now in pop culture. Casting Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark is a stroke of genius and perhaps the best casting decision made in comic book movie history apart from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The man is a phenomenal talent who has continuously delivered one inspired performance after another as the titular character.
Before the MCU, the Iron Man comics were considered B grade and the character itself was seen as nothing but a Batman knockoff. Robert Downey Jr made the character cool. And in Avengers: Endgame, RDJ delivered his best performance in the MCU to date. It was nuanced, layered and absolutely heartbreaking. Robert Downey Jr owned every scene. And now, there are talks about him receiving an Oscar nomination, rightfully so. In an interview with Variety, director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2 said that he would certainly vote for RDJ to win an Oscar.
“He has my vote for sure. I think he was able to discover and explore dimensions of the character over the course of many, many films, which is a bit of its own category. But I have to say that if you look at, especially how it began and how it ended in his performances between the first one and Endgame, there was a really thoughtful arc to the character, both in his performance and how all the filmmakers contributed to that character.”
But it isn’t just Jon Favreau. Endgame co-director Joe Russo feels the same way too, boldly claiming that RDJ deserves an Oscar more than anyone else in the past few decades.
“If you look at the work over just even the last four [Marvel] films he’s done, it’s phenomenal… He deserves an Oscar perhaps more than anyone in the last 40 years because of the way that he has motivated popular culture.”
In fact, RDJ is so intuned to his character that one of the most emotional sequences in Endgame was completely improvised. Speaking to Empire Podcast, directors Joe and Anthony Russo reveal that the intense “liar” uttered by Tony Stark to Steve Rogers in the first act of Endgame came directly from Robert Downey Jr. The helmers also went on to say:
“I think that was one of Downey’s most inspired performance moments in the movie. He very much reverts to, this is the guy who felt forsaken by his father – you can see his intimacy and trust issues in that moment when he turns on Cap. Downey performed the scene with a lot of energy. We didn’t do it many times, because he was expending himself so, so much. He understood it very well.”