Robert Downey Jr. Shouts Out Top Gun: Maverick While Responding To Comments Quentin Tarantino And Others Have Made About Marvel

In the nearly 15 years since Iron Man's release, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has released many new superhero movies and TV shows, and with the more and more content, comes more and more scrutiny. Along with Martin Scorsese likening the MCU to theme parks rather than being cinema, Quentin Tarantino’s recent comments about Marvel movie stars, and James Cameron criticizing the franchise's characters, it’s clear some major filmmakers are not on board with the MCU's trajectory. But, what does Robert Downey Jr., the man to play the first MCU hero, think about the recent Marvel discourse? The answer lies somewhere in the middle of the conversation, and it involves a shoutout to the smash-hit Top Gun: Maverick.

The MCU, of course, all started with Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man in 2008. The actor would then go on to play the hero in eight other movies, and meet his conclusion in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. When RDJ was asked about the more common backlash about the MCU by big names, he said this: 

I think our opinions on these matters say a lot about us. I think that we are in a time and place that I unwittingly contributed to, where IP has taken precedence over principle and personality. But it’s a double-edged sword. A piece of IP is only as good as the human talent you get to represent it, and you can have some great IP even if it’s coming from an auteur or a national treasure of a writer-director, and if you don’t have the right kind of artist playing that role, you’ll never know how good it could have been.

In his interview with Deadline, Robert Downey Jr. spoke about the current state of the movie industry where major franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe are taking “precedence” over more original Hollywood projects. While RDJ understands he contributed to this industry shift with his role as Tony Stark, he also speaks to how good filmmakers can get their hands on a Marvel project and make it incredible. He also said this: 

I think that creatively it is a waste of time to be at war with ourselves. I think this is a time when everything is so much more fragmented now that I think you have this kind of bifurcation. Throwing stones one way or another … and I’ve had my reactions in the past when people said things that I felt were discrediting my integrity … I go, ‘You know what? Let’s just get over it. We’re all a community. There’s enough room for everything,’ and thank God for Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. That’s all I have to say. We need the big stuff to make room for films like Armageddon Time.

In other words, Robert Downey Jr. believes that there’s room for both things. We can go out to see all the upcoming Marvel movies and also support smaller-scale films that are not built on an established franchise. The actor spoke to ultimately not wanting to see the industry at “war” with itself with this recent criticism and instead wants to remain a community. 

Additionally, RDJ gave a shout-out to Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, which are two massive blockbuster films from franchises that are encouraging a lot of people to return to the movie theater, and therefore help the movie industry a ton. Top Gun: Maverick is currently the highest-grossing movie of 2022, making $1.488 billion at the worldwide box office. Maverick is also receiving awards attention, as it recently won the Best Film award from the National Board of Review.  James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is expected to be the next monster blockbuster for the movie industry. 

As for Downey’s next projects, the actor will star in a series with Sandra Oh called The Sympathizer and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, hitting theaters on July 21, 2023. From these two titles alone, you can see he's practicing what he preaches as he's doing both types of projects these days. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.