‘Avengers: Endgame’: The 1 Reason Why Robert Downey Jr. Deserves an Oscar

The Russo brothers, the directors of Avengers: Endgame want Robert Downey Jr. to win an Oscar for Endgame. Awards season is starting to gear up, with Joaquin Phoenix and his Joker being mentioned as potential nominees. 

It’s certainly not impossible that Downey could get a nomination for that movie. Stranger things have definitely happened. Unfortunately for the Russos and MCU fans, “possible” and “likely” are not the same things. 

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Russos make their case for Iron Man

Joe and Anthony Russo know it’s an uphill battle to get nominated for acting in a superhero movie. So far only Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight has gotten nominated, which also makes him the one and only winner. That’s partly why Phoenix’s Joker is being talked up, too. 

If superhero movies ever get nominated for anything, it tends to be for the technical side: sound, visual effects and the like. However, last year’s Black Panther set a milestone by being the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture.

While Endgame isn’t thought to be a likely contender for Best Picture, the Russos think the best shot is Downey. He made Tony Stark’s redemptive arc mirror his own, with Downey fully emerged from the shadows of the drug busts that derailed his career in the 1990s. 

“I don’t know if I have ever seen—in movie history—a global audience react to a performance the way they did to Robert Downey in that movie,” said Joe Russo in The Daily Beast

“There were people bawling in movie theaters, hyperventilating. I mean, that is a profound performance, when you can touch audiences all over the world to that degree. We’ve never seen anything like that, and if that doesn’t deserve an Oscar, I don’t know what does.”

Downey has been nominated before

A nomination for Downey wouldn’t be that far afield. The actor has been nominated twice before. The first time was in 1993, for his performance in the title role of Chaplin, about the legendary movie comedy pioneer Charlie Chaplin. The other nominees that year were Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven, Stephen Rea for The Crying Game, Denzel Washington for Malcolm X, and the winner, Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman

Downey scored his second nomination in 2009 for his comic performance in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. His competition that year was Josh Brolin for Milk, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt, Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road, and the aforementioned Ledger. So if Downey were to be nominated for Endgame, it would be a fun point of trivia that his prior nomination lost to the one winning superhero role. 

Not many people are predicting Downey this year

Whether Downey should win an Oscar is a matter of opinion. Whether it will actually happen or not depends on what the rest of the field looks like. Unfortunately for Marvel fans and the Russos, Downey is not seen as likely to get a nomination. The Oscar predicting site GoldDerby does not list Downey anywhere in the Best Actor race, not even in the long-shot category. Same goes for the Best Supporting Actor category. 

The Russos argue that popular movies should be nominated for more awards, because otherwise, “it just becomes an independent film festival, which we’re all in support of, but if you want to draw an audience, and you have to draw an audience for the Oscars to keep working, then at some point you’ve gotta listen to the audience.”

Only thing is, the Oscars were going to try that last year, with something akin to a Best Popular Film award, and many pundits cried foul, saying that devalued the Oscars, that there was no good way to determine eligibility,  and that the most popular films already have an award: money. Which Avengers: Endgame has plenty of. The Academy backed away from the idea. 

It’s still early in the season, so anything could happen, but Downey will probably have to settle for being a Disney Legend. People who lament Downey being passed over for Endgame should consider the words of William Munny, the character played by Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven – one of Downey’s competitors: “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”