Robert Downey Jr’s $251 Million Worth Flop Movie Played a Crucial Role in His Oppenheimer Success

Robert Downey Jr never succumbed to his 2020 movie failure as he bounced back with the help of it to seal the glorious deal of his career.

Robert Downey Jr's $251 Million Worth Flop Movie Played a Crucial Role in His Oppenheimer Success


  • Robert Downey Jr has played Iron Man over 10 years since his debut in 2008 with his solo title 'Iron Man.'
  • The actor had a flop film in his resume after his MCU tenure was over with 2019's 'Avengers: Endgame.'
  • Still, Downey Jr said the flop movie helped the actor to achieve his dream collaboration with Christopher Nolan in 'Oppenheimer.'
Show More
Featured Video

Robert Downey Jr had a wonderful run at Marvel Cinematic Universe as Iron Man appearing in nine movies including his three solo runs since his debut in the 2008 movie Iron Man. While landing in the MCU was a huge career boost for the actor, it also deprived him of exploring roles beyond his iron armor.

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame
Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame

Following his MCU tenure that ended with Avengers: Endgame in 2019, the actor ventured into fantasy adventure as he went on to play the title role in Stephen Gaghan’s 2020 movie Dolittle. Despite an astounding cast including Downey’s MCU co-star and Spider-Man actor Tom Holland and industry prominent Selena Gomez, Octavia Spencer, Rami Malek, John Cena, and co. the movie was a dent in his career as it was both a commercial and critical failure.

Also read: Robert Downey Jr. Acted Like a Creepy Fanboy During an ‘Oppenheimer’ Watch Party With Singer Paul McCartney


Robert Downey Jr Faced Post-MCU Struggles With Dolittle

Robert Downey Jr in Dolittle
Robert Downey Jr in Dolittle

The most plausible reason for the failure of Dolittle was perhaps Robert Downey Jr’s long tenure as Iron Man in the MCU. Fans were not ready to move on and see the actor wearing another costume. Even the actor was found to be grappling with the same explanation as he candidly shared the reason for the failure of Dolittle in his post-MCU career. Chatting with Rob Lowe in his Thursday episode of the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast, the Iron Man star explained:

“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.”

Tony Stark has to be one of the best movie roles Downey Jr has ever played but in its essence, the sacrifice of letting other potential roles pass before eyes was definitely a pain for the actor. That’s the curse any actor with a franchise deal must endure but the ordeal of sticking to a vortex for a 58-year-old came to an end, despite being proud of his MCU career.

For Dolittle, it was a movie largely ignored by fans as the movie went on to gross only $251 million globally. Still, Dolittle served a huge purpose in achieving his dream role.


Also read: “I’ve been doing something wrong”: ‘Oppenheimer’ Made Robert Downey Jr. Forget Everything ‘Iron Man’ Stood For

Dolittle— A Catalyst to Oppenheimer

Robert Downey Jr in and as Dolittle
Robert Downey Jr in and as Dolittle

Downey Jr was candid enough to admit that Dolittle “just didn’t work” but it was not a roadblock to his next roles rather catalyzed him to understand the world outside the MCU and the very comfort zone of playing the same character over 10 years. Of course, Downey Jr was never going to resort to any blame game, Dolittle was also a critical bomb as several critics have declared the movie a disaster largely because of the script and unfunny dialogues.

Regardless, Downey Jr has learned to bounce back quickly and he did as he fraternized his dream collaboration with Christopher Nolan to play Lewis Strauss in the 2023 blockbuster Oppenheimer.


“[Dolittle] 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,” Downey Jr told Lowe.

The actor went on to add, “And the crazy thing is they say when the student is ready, the [Christopher] Nolan will come.”  For any actor, Nolan is a master director as he has forged an established track record of making commercially viable acclaimed movies.

“I mean, the teacher will come. And that’s what happened,” the Oppenheimer star added. Downey Jr went on to win a Golden Globe for his role in Nolan’s movie and it is only the beginning for the actor to hop into more acclaimed roles in the near future.


Written by Lachit Roy

Articles Published: 1031

Lachit Roy is a seasoned writer specializing in science and entertainment news. Armed with a postgraduate degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Tezpur University, he brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to his craft.

Lachit is particularly passionate about crafting engaging content on entertainment news and trends. A dedicated movie enthusiast, he possesses an in-depth understanding of the cinematic world and takes joy in disseminating the latest updates to the global fandom. When not immersed in writing, Lachit can be found indulging in his love for movies and series, occasionally tending to his garden, but predominantly expanding his expertise in the realms of his interests.