Did Robert Downey Jr. Just Convince Marvel Fans He’d Never Return as Iron Man?

We’ve seen some recent evidence Robert Downey Jr. wants to be a real Tony Stark after his announcement of teaming up with scientists to create AI bots that clean our oceans. While we know his money has the biggest power over the technical details, maybe Downey has more scientific intellect than we think.

Even if he does become something resembling Stark, evidence suggests he doesn’t want to play the role on the big screen again any time soon. Based on a recent standout interview, you can tell he appreciates what he accomplished in the MCU. At the same time, there seems to be a strong indication he wants to move on.

Can we really read Downey like a book? We can deduce some things based on his own career trajectory.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. | Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

A revelatory interview from Downey and his approach to ‘aesthetic distance’

One new interview Downey did for Off Camera with Sam Jones was quite an eye-opener if you think former was obsessed with being in the MCU. Downey has some very astute philosophical constructs on how to remove himself from the work he’s doing.

While he admits he appreciated the chance to become such a success in the MCU (facetiously saying he became a “trust fund kid”), Downey wants his fans to know he’s not the work he does.

When you step back and think about it, he’s absolutely right he shouldn’t let his real persona become usurped by his Tony Stark/Iron Man role. Dealing with such a mammoth franchise as this can easily swallow you whole if you’re not careful, including new fans thinking it’s all you represent.

Nevertheless, there is a dichotomy of thought there where one side of Downey finds the role of Iron Man cool (his childhood side) and the rational adult side knowing he needs to remove himself from the fiction. He deems this “aesthetic distance,” a term every actor may have to keep by their side all the time.

Downey is obviously giving a mental health lesson to other actors

We’ve broached the subject of actors becoming so embedded into their roles, they almost become the role and can’t find their way back to reality. In some cases, we think a few Hollywood marriages started as on-set romances and fell apart when reality came up to greet them.

Downey’s above interview is one to take to heart for his fellow thespians. On a mental health level, it’s important to envelop yourself in reality so the fantasy of a movie set doesn’t confuse your psyche.

Leave it up to Downey to give one of the most thought-provoking celebrity interviews of the year. After everything he’s been through, you can see how much intellect he’s built up and how he maintains his sanity now in the world of Hollywood.

At the same time, this interview gives some clues about him ultimately escaping the MCU.

He clearly wants to move on … for now

Let’s all go back to pre-2008 when Robert Downey, Jr. was one of the top indie actors in the business. He’d gone into indie fare to help rebuild his career after his earliest years were spent making mainstream movies for the major studios.

His prison sentence for drug abuse was sobering, though it didn’t prevent him from getting work again. Developing indie cred helped him build up his acting skills and prove he could do any kind of role.

When Iron Man came around, everything changed. Downey started the ever-present trend of the A-list actor being recruited into the world of comic book movies. In the MCU, it was like being sucked into a big black hole (of success). Escaping it is arguably even more of a challenge.

It’s clear from the above interview he wants to do other things and not let the MCU dominate his life. Many of us have been saying we hope to see him go back to the indie film world again and make more movies about reality. Just don’t expect him to stay away from the MCU forever, perhaps by Marvel draft to enlist him into an after-death cameo in a future Avengers-themed movie.