Over the weekend, The Times posted an article about the career of Matt Damon and how the idea of a “leading man” taking over the box office is dead. People love Matt Damon (well, until he offered up his story about using a gay slur…) and it’s true about how the box office isn’t nearly as reliant on a strong leading man. However, there was one comment in the piece that caused quite a stir on social media and led to James Gunn publicly offering up his opinion on the “bullshit” take.
Buried in the piece about Matt Damon, the Times writer said, “…Iron Man could be played by almost anyone with wit; the character is more important to audiences than the actor.” This was an attempt to show how hiding Robert Downey, Jr. behind a mask proves the point about how leading men don’t matter anymore. Of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a massive franchise and fans were upset about the writer making the claim about Robert Downey, Jr. being interchangeable with “almost anyone.”
One of those fans is none other than James Gunn, the popular filmmaker who has been a huge part of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to his “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. And because of his access as a member of the MCU family, Gunn has firsthand knowledge that the claim made by The Times is completely wrong.
In a simple tweet, Gunn said, “I’ve seen the screen tests. This is bullshit.”
Of course, he didn’t offer up any specifics, but speaking as an authority on the subject, it’s clear Gunn doesn’t think the claim has any merit.
Robert Downey, Jr. not only kickstarted the MCU with his incredible performance as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in the 2008 feature, aptly titled, “Iron Man,” but he also continued to play that role for more than a decade showing up in a number of other features and quickly becoming the most famous and beloved member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While many have tried to duplicate his performance (mixing emotion and charisma with plenty of quippy dialogue), there has yet to be another superhero performance quite like what Downey was able to do from 2008 to 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.”
So, it appears The Times writer is going to have to live with everyone, including James Gunn, publicly ridiculing this take.