“Doesn’t get the love that so sorely deserves”: You May Have Ignored This Underrated Gem From Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer But Now It’s a Cult Classic

The slow-burn journey that led to this 2005 flick becoming an essential part of modern cinema’s lexicon!

Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer


  • Robert Downey Jr.’s career has been significantly impacted by his portrayal of Tony Stark.
  • But his “calling card” to Iron Man was his performance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
  • Shane Black’s first feature film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has since become a cult classic.
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As we reflect on and put together the story of Robert Downey Jr.’s life, we have to agree that his portrayal of Tony Stark actually saved his career. Since the actor went from being a drug addict to one of the biggest stars on the planet, there has not been a better example of a comeback in recent memory.


For eleven years, he played the MCU’s Iron Man, which gave him all the things an actor could hope for: a stable career, exposure to a new audience, and, most of course, plenty of money. However, that does not tell the whole story. It was Downey Jr.’s role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that served as his “calling card to Iron Man”. 

Robert Downey Jr.’s career has been significantly impacted by his portrayal of Tony Stark.
Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang | Warner Bros. Pictures.

What made Shane Black’s debut feature film such a cult classic that fans are gushing about it?


Revisiting the Brilliance of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Smaller, less well-known movies often get lost in the shuffle of Hollywood blockbusters and large-scale franchises. One such gem that many may have relatively overlooked is the 2005 film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. The former donned the role of Harry Lockhart, a small-time thief who stumbles into the world of Hollywood acting, while Kilmer performed Gay Perry’s character, a tough and sarcastic private detective.

So, what is it about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that has fascinated fans and earned it the status of a cult classic? It could be the sharp and witty dialogue, courtesy of writer/director Shane Black, known for his work on the Lethal Weapon series. Then, of course, there is the magnetic on-screen chemistry between Downey Jr. and Kilmer. The two leads bounce off each other effortlessly, creating a dynamic and hilarious duo that keeps viewers hooked from start to finish.

Robert Downey Jr.’s “calling card” to Iron Man was his performance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang | Warner Bros. Pictures.

However, it has gained a cult following over time, with a Reddit user even praising it after more than ten years of its release, stating:


It’s fast talking, quick witted, funny as hell. And if you’re a fan of RDJ and his lighting quip, this movie will have you rolling. Seriously underrated treasure of a movie that doesn’t get the love it so sorely deserves.

Black’s signature style of blending action and humor was on full display in this film, making for a thoroughly entertaining and engaging watch. Unfortunately, in terms of its box office performance, $15 million was made worldwide—a sum that barely exceeded its budget (Box Office Mojo).

The Impact of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on Robert Downey Jr.’s Career

When Kiss Kiss Bang Bang originally came out, it was mostly shrugged off despite making a little money and garnering some favorable reviews. Being “fresh out of prison and all but unemployable”, Robert Downey Jr. was extremely disappointed that this was not the kind of success he had hoped for (via THR).

Robert Downey Jr. in a still from Iron Man 2
Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2 | Marvel Studios

The bright side of this was that, after watching the movie, Jon Favreau proposed that Downey Jr. be cast as Iron Man. According to the actor, “It ended up being my calling card to Iron Man”, and it convinced Favreau that the actor could lead an action film. 


The Avengers: Endgame star also spoke highly of Shane Black, stating, “Shane was one of my lifelines while making the first Iron Man…” in reference to how crucial the director was to the creation of Tony Stark. Downey Jr. added:

He was probably reading a noir paperback while we were talking, but his suggestions were brilliant.

Iron Man would serve as the catalyst for Downey’s comeback, and Black was even tapped to co-write and helm Iron Man 3.

So, despite flying under the radar upon its initial release, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has since found its audience that recognizes its brilliance and has elevated it to cult classic status. So, if you’re looking for a hidden gem to add to your must-watch list, look no further than this underrated Robert Downey Jr. vehicle!


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang can be rented on Apple TV.


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1655

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1600 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.