Marvel Star Robert Downey Jr. Proves He’s Just Like Tony Stark With Latest Venture

His arc reactor may have shut down, but Tony Stark lives on through Robert Downey Jr.

Playing Marvel’s genius inventor for a decade had such an impact on Downey that he decided to play around in the scientific sandbox himself. The former Iron Man isn’t exactly poised to greet visitors at Avengers Tower with Dum-E by his side, but he does have something else in the can.  

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. at the premiere for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ in Los Angeles, 2019 | Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr. helped launch an environmental start-up

In 2019, Robert Downey Jr. announced the arrival of The Footprint Coalition, an umbrella organization that supports environmental and sustainable ventures through technology. He first mentioned it during the Amazon re:Mars event, but the group officially hit the ground running in 2020.

Its purpose? To provide promotion and financial backing for companies that address sustainability issues in areas such as food, waste, energy, and education. Downey and his wife Susan are both part of the Footprint Coalition.

One thing the group invests in is products and services like J.A.R.V.I.S., the famous artificially intelligent sidekick for Tony Stark. However, toilet paper and protein powder also part of the program.

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Robert Downey Jr. is promoting insect protein

During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Downey introduced one of the products he’s advocating: protein power made from bugs. Colbert joked that it looked cocoa powder, and Downey explained it’s made from mealworms. And yeah, humans can eat it.

He shared that it’s made by a company called ŸNSECT and it’s part of a line of insect-derived goods. “I can put this in a smoothie or something?” asked Colbert.

“Yup,” said Downey. “And you’ll be making all kinds of stuff out of it,” he added. Though it hasn’t been approved in the U.S. yet, the powder is a go in the European Union.

Downey summed up by crediting Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. “This is the great thing about the MCU: playing someone who has to solve and deal with existential crises with technology. To be able to then translate that and have just a little bit of credibility based on my genuine interest, it just feels like the future,” Downey said.

Downey draws parallels to Tony Stark

When Colbert praised Downey for his work in the Marvel franchise, he mentioned how people were rooting for the actor to win on screen. In the past, Downey’s dealt with addiction and prison time due to his behavior. He rose above it, and becoming Tony Stark is something that will forever be attached to Downey.

Downey stated that he believes the industry has been forgiving toward him, and said his misbehavior was “pre-internet,” which worked in his favor. He said he wanted to do better and was willing to take it on the chin.

Downey described his experience as somewhat of a personal hero’s journey where someone is built up, breaks down, and comes back. He added that by the time he took on the role of Tony Stark, he could relate as “a guy who really needed to be handed a dose of ouch.”