Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Am Iron Man!

An exceedingly talented, but woefully arrogant man with substance abuse issues which threaten to derail a brilliant career. That's both a description of Tony Stark the character and the man who has played him many times Robert Downey Jr. Rarely in my experience has an actor so thoroughly owned a part as Downey has done Iron Man. When he says at the end of the first movie "I am Iron Man.", it was totally true in that fictional moment and as it turns out has come to be true for several years and arguably for several years to come. Now with his sixth (or is it seventh) outing in the role about to hit theaters and his future as the character more assured, it's clear that Downey is going to "be" Iron Man for a long time to come.

The only comparison I can think of is when Batman and Adam West were bonded for all time in the iconic 60' s TV series. West could not shake the character and other actors would forever and day be compared (even when it was a total waste of time) to the classic West rendition. (To a somewhat lesser extent this happened with Christopher Reeve and George Reeves with Superman; the untimely deaths of both men making the comparison less apt.) Downey has done that now with Iron Man. It's difficult to imagine someone else playing the part, and if they do (which I imagine is inevitable if the movies keep making great jack) that actor will have a damn difficult time moving out of Downey's shadow.

George Tuska and Frank Giacoia

The reason is simple. Tony Stark seems to be Downey, or at least as we perceive him. The wild arrogance which defines the character seems to be a trait which Downey has. The endless quips, the rough and tumble banter have been so ingrained that the more sober Iron Man long evident in the comics has been demolished and replaced. In my own imagination, when I thought of Iron Man the first image was something from the long rich tapestry created by George Tuska, but in more recent years I see Downey in the role.

Now there are limits of course. When the attempt was made (stupidly) to take that wiseacre act to the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle it bombed. Downey's Sherlock Holmes is a parody unfortunately. It's one of the greatest examples of a hand being overplayed that I can think of. But I see a third one is in the works...sigh.

As good as Chris Evans is as Captain America (and he's outstanding), as ideal as Scarlet Johanson is as Black Widow (and she's delightful), Downey's Iron Man still holds sway. The Avengers movies are just Iron Man movies by another name, or at least that's got to be how Tony would imagine it to be.

I never would've predicted it. I thought he was miscast. I was wrong. He is Iron Man.

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