Oscars 2020: If there was a 'winning hearts' category, Robert Downey Jr would've won the award for his MCU run
That 'Iron Man' was the start of Robert Downey Jr's launch to Hollywood's stratosphere shouldn't come as a surprise. That he's had a career filled with some comprehensive projects along with some major highs and rock bottoms isn't surprising news. He is probably one of the most enigmatic personalities in the MCU isn't another surprise either, but what is and has managed to irk fans of the MCU and RDJ was when they found out the 54-year-old didn't have an Oscar nomination.
What it did was spark something close to a revolution. Twitterati was furious and slammed the critics for wholly and conveniently ignoring Downey Jr as one of the prime contenders. Guess it really didn't matter to them that an epic like 'Avengers: Endgame' made the cut for one category only, but they were seething mad that a man who pretty much shouldered the MCU since 2008 wasn't given due credit for it. And then there are those who're pretty much ho-hum about it and snickering around that this was more of an emotional outburst over clinical and logical reasons.
Try telling that to the MCU fans. They can be vocal and critical; ruthless and unforgiving when it comes to an MCU release. Ask Mark Ruffalo and Tom Holland when it comes to facing the wrath of fans and they'll tell you it sure isn't pretty. Back to Downey Jr then. Coming off the back of a stellar flick in 'Tropic Thunder', Downey might have looked at 'Iron Man' as a gamble, but it paid off. Not just in terms of raking in the moolah at the box office, but also winning the hearts of Marvel comic aficionados for playing a charismatic 'Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist. and being Iron Man while at it. And, he played the role with the same elan for a decade.
Coming back to the debate of should he vs Nah, that's okay. It's tricky, it's arguable and well, it's just debatable. The Academy Awards have always led to the one question: How do we assess the quality of acting, the distinction of the performance as we seek to look and call the "best"?
The Wrap has an interesting article that speaks of a few factors that help determine this: Quality of script and the screentime and freedom it gives the actor to dish out what a solid, impeccable performance, efficient casting, and the concept of "transformational acting." Stack these up against Downey and then you realize he ticks most of these conditions. Again, this isn't a sure-shot way to determine his quality and his acting capabilities, but a rough measure.
The 'Iron Man' trilogy and his appearances as an Avenger in the four ensemble chapters (five if you count 'Captain America: Civil War') are proof of efficient casting. Personally, it's hard to pick an actor and give him a try at playing Tony Stark, especially when Downey Jr made the character his own. Transformational acting has a concrete definition— "Abandoning oneself and allowing a character to take up residence in one’s body and speak through one’s mouth is the fundamental challenge of acting," according to Arts Columbia.
Again, What was Downey Jr when he played the man dependent on the suit in 'Iron Man 3' or what was he when he tearfully went toe-to-toe against Captain America in 'Civil War'? And if this example is flimsy, his live appearances in talk shows and interviews pretty much mirror Tony Stark. There's ample proof of that in the form of people's comments, and before anyone asks, it doesn't necessarily include MCU fans only.
This is a subjective topic at best and no matter how hard anyone tries, it's hard to agree and disagree when it comes to Downey Jr being nominated for an Oscar. All said and done that he doesn't care for one and, in an interview, he's said it out as well in one of his appearances in 'The Howard Stern Show'. He was just too happy that the MCU evolved and took a direction that he never saw coming.
Fans have a different perspective. Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man won hearts. He was the hero supreme, he was cool and he was an aspiration. People wanted to be him. He had it all– the smarts, the chutzpah, the billion-dollar suit with new tech, a lovely woman and some great superhero pals. They also took into account his contribution to the MCU which pretty much qualified as a contribution to the Hollywood film industry. "Ain't that enough?" they screamed. Critics, well, they didn't think it was.
This is unfortunate because taking a stand here is not easy. You ask us, the man deserves it. The world thinks he does, because at the end of the day, as cheesy, as kiddish and as hopelessly philosophical as it seems, Tony Stark is and was an emotion. And it's a nice thought to have an award for winning hearts because, sometimes, it is okay for emotions to vault over all the technicality and the rationale.
And while Downey Jr may not have added an Oscar to his trophy cabinet, that isn't stopping the world from loving him 3,000.