Robert Downey Jr.’s legacy is and always will be as the godfather of MCU, the iconic and immutable Iron Man, and the first actor who, alongside Jon Favreau, made all of Marvel’s current reality possible. So it was only time that he would speak out against directors making it their mission to tear down the monumental edifice that brought out some of Hollywood’s best minds, produced scores of movie stars, gave the audience a shared family and the experience of a lifetime, and celebrated over a decade of indomitable box office success.
Robert Downey Jr. Negates Quentin Tarantino’s MCU Claims
After Martin Scorsese attempted to erase the Marvel Cinematic Universe by stating it’s “not cinema”, Quentin Tarantino went a step further and completed the loop by claiming that its components, the actors themselves, “are not movie stars.” These claims are amid a stream of other criticisms that have flooded the recent contemporary landscape by pushing up against the expansive MCU and discrediting its arc and accomplishments. But clearly, Robert Downey Jr. is having none of it.
“A piece of IP is only as good as the human talent you get to represent it and you can have some great IP even if it’s coming from an auteur or a national treasure of a writer [or] director, and if you don’t have the right kind of artist playing that role, you’ll never know how good it could have been.”
In a direct and articulated response to Quentin Tarantino’s “Marvel-ization of Hollywood” comment, Robert Downey Jr. claimed,
“I think that creatively it is a waste of time to be at war with ourselves. I think this is a time when everything is so much more fragmented now that I think you have this kind of bifurcation. Throwing stones one way or another… you know what, let’s just get over it. We’re all a community. There’s enough room for everything and thank God for Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. That’s all I have to say. We need the big stuff to make room for films like Armageddon Time.”
It is a definitive statement on RDJ’s part who has explored his fair share of fragmentation and had spoken about his experience of being targeted and discredited. The actor has worked with industry greats like Christopher Nolan and Park Chan-wook and someone who has actively contributed to such a great expanse of the oeuvre can hardly be called to prove his artistic credibility by auteurs who are themselves venerated and respected.
“I would just say, before we cast aspersions on each other, undergo your own renaissance and see if it doesn’t change your mind a little bit… Reinvent yourself before you decide that somebody else doesn’t know what they’re doing or that something is keeping you from doing your best, or that something is better than something else… I think that’ll change again but this is just where we’re at. And to accept it and be grateful that you get to participate is the right place to start.”
Martin Scorsese had thrown the first snowball down the hill almost 4 years ago when he claimed that MCU films are “closer to theme park rides” than actual cinema. Now the mounting criticism continues as directors have taken turns repeatedly crushing the genre that has redefined box office success and given the world incredible larger-than-life stories to revisit and look forward to.
Why Marvel Continues to Thrive Amid Constant Criticism
It has been a recent trend of Hollywood directors of the stature of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and Denis Villeneuve to tear down the juggernaut that has overshadowed cinematic experiences that they feel are more deserving of the audience’s attention. Projects that these iconic creators and original thinkers have produced over the years have all been unfailingly symptomatic of greatness and each of their works is a definitive masterpiece surpassing the last.
But when it comes to Marvel, the comic book superhero franchise has made a name for itself by bringing to its audience stories of heroism amid great adversity, of people who rise up against oppressive social systems to become saviors and protectors often at great costs to themselves, of love, sacrifice, and family, and for delivering epic narratives of unprecedented scale that filters out from the screens and become a symbol of perseverance, tenacity, and hope.
Marvel Studios’ latest movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theatres, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special is available for streaming on Disney+.