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Robert Downey, Jr. Doth Protest Too Much about His SuperHero Career

We get it, the dude is happy to be getting the amenities that go along with doing a movie that is like an all-inclusive resort. You’re treated like a god, you have a nice trailer, the public loves you and you’re a huge box office draw. The best thing is probably the fat paycheck after each and every one of these.

He’s gotten mostly a pass for playing the same character in every movie he’s ever made, his best is still Tropic Thunder followed closely by Zodiac and that’s only because it’s a great movie). He’s funny. He knows how to deliver a punchline and is usually the favorite performer in every movie he’s in. But — and I’m trying to be nice here — what an asshole.

In an interview with EW, posted in The Playlist, Downey, Jr. goes off on independent film:

Sometimes the little movies are the ones that wind up taking the most out of you because they’re like, ‘Hey, man, we’re just running a couple of days behind. Do you think you can stay through your birthday and then come back on the fourth of July. And, by the way, but, like, the crew — can you pay for the craft services? And, oh, by the way, man, when we go to Sundance, it’s like, can we just sit you in a chair and you can sell this for six days in a row so that we’ll make 180 bucks when it opens in one theater?

So okay fine, some artists can’t all be a Johnny Paycheck and cash in on meeting the public’s expectations and essentially being a self-admitted whore. Some actually want to do good work in an atmosphere that is increasingly corporate, much more like the fast food paradigm where there are fewer choices and more of the same. The bigger the menu, the less the profit. He can say what he wants to say, obviously. He can do with his career what he wants. He likes living large and now he’s got a job that supports that.

He seems to feel defensive about the comments made about superhero movies by Alejandro G. Inarritu last year and the subsequent rallying cry by Hollywood types against them in their unanimous embrace of Birdman, “Look, I respect the heck out of him [and] for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like ‘cultural genocide’ just speaks to how bright he is.” Did he really say that? Yes, he did.

While the internet would be a much better place if we all stopped getting bent out of shape about things people say. Ultimately, who cares? But asshole eruptions are important to notice because they confirm what we all suspected about Boyhood last year – that there were hidden volcanos of resentment everywhere.

On Howard Stern’s show, the actor said he liked Whiplash but declined to trash Boyhood in a direct way, though his distaste was clear. Of course he liked Whiplash. Like John Steinbeck called out all Americans for being embarrassed millionaires just waiting to claim their fortune, so too do all of the undiscovered geniuses in Hollywood see themselves as the kid in Whiplash – just waiting for their chance to show people what they’re made of.

So much harder it is to do the though stuff, the artistic commitment it took Richard Linklater and his devoted crew to stick with film for twelve years. At least the British film industry recognized that which Hollywood could not.

I’m so annoyed at Robert Downey, Jr. That I might just start calling him Bob Downey. We’ve all patiently said and written the three words these last few decades – Robert Downey, Jr. That’s too hard. That’s like trying to make a film on a shoestring budget with a few loyal friends and investors. It’s too hard to say Junior all of the time. Bob Downey it is.