It would be really nice right about now if Tony Stark were a real person. He’d be leveraging all of Stark Industries’ high-tech products and manufacturing capabilities for the global fight against the coronavirus — and looking cool and being snarky (but still cool) while doing it.
Alas, Stark is not only a fictional character, but also (spoiler alert!) — after the events of Avengers: Endgame — one that will never again be gracing movie screens with his presence. (Well, there is a possible flashback cameo in the now-delayed Black Widow I’ve heard whispers about…)
The good news is that Robert Downey Jr. IS real, and he’s going nowhere. In celebration of his latest film, Dolittle, hitting the Box and Redbox On Demand, I wanted to take a little walk down memory lane and remind you of RDJ’s career before he become synonymous with Iron Man.
Did you know he was a Saturday Night Live cast member? Or a member of the notorious ‘80s “Brat Pack”? Or that he won a Golden Globe for his role on one of THE quintessential ‘90s TV series, Ally McBeal? Or that he’s sang on several soundtracks?
Younger movie fans may also have no idea about RDJ’s extensive pre-Marvel career — or his troubled past and his triumphant comeback. I’ll let you Google that on your own if you’re curious about his ups and downs, but suffice it to say that until Iron Man came out in 2008, Downey Jr. had never been in a blockbuster film before, and was considered a huge risk in Hollywood.
But that year, everything changed. Tropic Thunder, which earned RDJ an Oscar nomination, also came out in 2008, and there’s been no looking back for him ever since.
We have more than 20 of RDJ’s non-Marvel movies at the Box and On Demand, so since we’ve all got nothin’ but time on our hands lately, I encourage you to check them out. Here are the ones I consider to be “can’t-miss”:
- Weird Science – Oh how I used to love this movie back in the day. RDJ only has a small role in this story about two geeks whose “ultimate woman” comes to life out of their computer, but I assure you it’s worth watching.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – In this 2005 film-noir parody that both critics and audiences loved, RDJ stars as a crook who stumbles into a movie audition — and gets the part. But then he gets pulled into a crazy conspiracy with an ex-flame (Michelle Monaghan) and a private eye (Val Kilmer) and needs to watch his back!
- Sherlock Holmes – RDJ won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of director Guy Ritchie’s re-imagined British detective, opposite his BFF Dr. Watson (Jude Law). Make it a double-feature and add on Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, too!
- Zodiac – In this chilling true story about the hunt for the Zodiac killer in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s, RDJ plays a crime reporter following the case at The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Tropic Thunder – If you’re in the mood for some ridiculous comedy, this is the one for you. RDJ joins a star-studded cast (Ben Still, Jack Black, Tom Cruise) as one of several high-maintenance actors who are dropped in the middle of the jungle and left to fend for themselves in order to shoot a more realistic Vietnam War film. Downey Jr. earned an Oscar nomination for playing the unforgettable Kirk Lazarus, an over-the-top Australian method actor.
- The Judge – This film has a heart-wrenching scene that has stayed with me since 2014. RDJ plays a cocky Chicago attorney who returns to his small hometown in Indiana for his mom’s funeral. When he realizes that his estranged father (Robert Duvall) — a criminal court judge — has serious health issues that may or may not have led him to commit a crime, he’s forced to make some tough decisions.
- Chances Are – … Or maybe you’re looking for something MUCH lighter? Then this 1989 rom-com is for you. It also stars Cybill Shepherd, Mary Stuart Masterson and — oh! Did I mention it involves reincarnation???
What’s your favorite non-Marvel Robert Downey Jr movie?