Cue the gasps. Be astounded. I certainly was when Downey proclaimed his love for the mega-hit in an interview triggered by the coming world premiere of The Judge at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Galaxy in some ways is the best Marvel movie ever,” Downey says with admiration. “And it’s odd for someone with — on occasion — an ego the size of mine to actually say that!”
Downey, of course, is the star of three of those Marvel blockbusters, the Iron Man trilogy. He plays the Tony Stark/Iron Man characters with a kind of wit, exuberance and edge that elevates those movies above popcorn fare. Yet Downey still points to Galaxy as the winner. Because it was so unlikely. Because it could never have been made without its predecessors dominating the box office.
“We’re talking about how the Iron Mans and the Thors and the Captain Americas and the Avengers movies have afforded Marvel the opportunity to essentially take what was a third-tier, minor, kind of upstart bit of potential from one of their comic books series and say: ‘Look!’ ”
Downey offers a metaphor invoking football and the NFL and the Mannings. “It’s like you have a great quarterback, and his brother plays for another team, and then you say: ‘Look, this is their second cousin and we think he has a great arm and he should start.’ And then he goes and wins the Superbowl!”
Downey remains thrilled to be working in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will continue, including in the next Avenger episode. After that, who knows? The actor is also involved with Team Downey, his own production company and the impetus behind The Judge. It is a serious prestige picture, but Team Downey wants to play in the sandbox with commercial fare, too.
“We like BIG movies,” Downey says of Team Downey, which he runs with producer wife Susan (Levin) Downey. “We are working on a Sherlock Holmes 3,” he says, without providing details.
Team Downey is also developing a franchise of its own, a Perry Mason-style thriller series set in the 1930s. “Then we have a story that Steve McQueen was developing before he passed away called Yucatan that I’m just on fire about.” And Downey just met with the writer of a live-action version of Pinocchio.
“I must play Geppetto,” Downey says of the kind-hearted puppet-maker who creates Pinocchio. “I see him as Chico Marx meets Jake LaMotta.” Hmmm, with the raunchiest Marx Brother crossed with the boxer whom Robert De Niro played in Raging Bull, this will not be our grandparents’ Pinocchio.