Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Robert Downey Jr: "F**k DC Comics"

"My whole thing is that that I saw 'The Dark Knight'. I feel like I'm dumb because I feel like I don't get how many things that are so smart. It's like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I'm like, 'That's not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.' I loved 'The Prestige' but didn't understand 'The Dark Knight'. Didn't get it, still can't tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I'm like, 'I get it. This is so high brow and so f--king smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.' You know what? F-ck DC comics. That's all I have to say and that's where I'm really coming from."

--Robert Downey Jr.

I'll be honest with you, I caught the first 20 minutes or so of "Dark Knight" and felt no motivation to see the rest of the film. It didn't pull me in, it didn't compel me to want to see more or to care about the characters. I'm sorry. It was just like when I watched "Batman Begins" -- technically, a beautiful movie. Intelligent. Great performances. Pristinely shot. No motivation to see it again, no moments of wonder that I look back on fondly and remember. Just cold and beautiful.

In contrast, "Iron Man" grabbed me by the throat and said: "CARE ABOUT ME!" From the very first scene to the very last scene.

Since I found the "Spider-Man" movies to be very much in the same vein as "Iron Man," and "Superman Returns" more along the lines of the new Batman movies, is this just going to be a stylistic difference between these two studios? Can WB make a "Green Lantern" movie, for example, that can have the life and personality of an "Iron Man?"

Not saying "Dark Knight" is better than "Iron Man," or is a bad film. Just saying that "Iron Man" had a lot of heart, and when I think of "heart," I don't think of "Dark Knight."

And lovelovelovelovellovelove me some Robert Downey Jr.


  1. Dark Knight is definitely a different kind of movie from Iron Man, but I enjoyed them both.

    I get that it might not be to everyone's taste but I think it's a much better film even if Iron Man is a better movie - I think there's room for both.

    I'd love to see a Green Lantern pic in the same vein as Iron Man, though. The whole ponderous thing doesn't work on every property.

    And love that THE PRESTIGE got a shout out - one of my favorite films and so much better than either Batman movie!

  2. Nice of Mr. Downey to be a company man for Marvel, isn't it?

    Anyway, I think a GL movie could be made along the same vein as 'Iron Man' because Hal Jordan is an action-movie character -- he's a fighter pilot and ladies' man who's fearless at the core. So, yeah, it'd be more likely to deliever on the happy-fun-shiny stuff.

  3. The way things are going, he'll probably be blacklisted from making Warner Brothers movies. Which I know sounds like an exaggeration, BUT...

    Hopefully, Marvel can keep him busy with Avengers movies and whatnot.

  4. I liked Dark Knight, even though I'd really like to see the World's Greatest Detective more, rather than the World's Greatest Martial Artist with lots of cool gadgets all the time. But my wife (who thinks comic books are for kids) HATED Dark Knight (too convoluted, violent, and long), and she LOVED Iron Man.

    And even I hated Superman Returns, or Superstalker Returns as I think of it.

  5. you may have just summed up the big different between DC and Marvel. DC is always about the image, the icons...the larger than life figures battling it out in some sort of gotterdamerung.

    Marvel has always been about the drama and pathos of the little guy. See, Stark, for all his riches, is a little guy. He's kind of a jerk and clueless about it, he's got a heart problem, both literally and figuratively, and he makes mistakes. By the end of the first movie, he's changed, but he's still enough of an egotist to want credit for who he is. By the end of Batman Begins, Bruce is basically an Olympian figure.

    See, I love both, and neither movie left me cold at all. I felt like finally Batman got the treatment he deserves. It's how I felt, despite all its myriad flaws, about Spider-Man 2...finally a Marvel movie with true pathos.

    I love RDJ, though. He cracks me up.

  6. I gotta say, if Downey had said something like, "No, seriously. WTF was up with that Hawkman special?" I'd take the interview more seriously.

  7. I totally understood "The Dark Knight," but couldn't quite follow what the hell Downey was saying. Was that transcribed correctly?

    I've said before and will again, comparing "Iron Man" to "The Dark Knight" is like comparing "Die Hard" to "Goodfellas." Just because both movies feature criminals with guns doesn't mean they are of the same cloth.

    That said, I think "Iron Man" is more consitantly entertaining, but "Dark Knight" reaches greater heights (and lows.) I'll also take Downey Jr. over the entire Batman cast. That guy's been golden for me since the 80's. I saw "The Pick-Up Artist" in the theater, for cripes sake.

  8. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Gotta agree.

    Dark Knight just was such a different movie. I think its scope was WAY too broad. Too many characters, too many plot points, too many scenes that I think the Nolan bros. wanted to bring out.

    Don't want to foster the same old DC vs. Marvel movie tropes, but I do wonder if DC will ever, ever, ever be able to live up to Marvel's standard. May there ever come a day when 1) WB studios cares more about its subsidiary's properties 2) DC will be given the power to have final say on choices for their properties 3) DC's management will be film-industry savvy enough to make smart decisions.

    That's a lot of variables, and a lot of effort would have to be put into getting it all to line up. Don't know if WB would be willing to let DC have that kind of autonomy. My (very uneducated) opinion of WB has been that they're pretty conservative managers, and would have a tough time ceding that kind of control.

    Anyone have more educated insight?

  9. Eh, I liked both IM and DK. But there is no question The Dark Knight is a superior film in writing, acting and directing.

    Iron Man was pretty shallow and vapid. One of the most shallow films I saw this year, in fact.

    That's not really a knock against IM though. I felt it fitting for Tony Stark and the brand. *Stoopid* fun in the same way as The Ramones. That is no bad thing at all.

    Dark Knight didn't even seem it was meant to be a mass market action film- even that is what was in the end.

    The tone and intent was aimed at loftier heights. Much to the film's credit, it got pretty goddamn close to touching that sky.

  10. Count me in to the group with you and Downey Jr. After the Dark Knight, I was drowning in everybody telling me how great DK was when I thought it was a pretentious piece of crap.

    Downey earned my respect after this portrayal of Iron Man. Never thought of him as a great actor until now.

    After I read your blog, I thought that somebody would give the "company line" retort. I didn't have to read far to only the second comment. Predictable.

    A Green Lantern movie would have benefited from a guy like Joel Schumacher. The neon rave lighting he used in his Batman films would have worked for GL. But which GL would be in it? Hal? Kyle? or John?

  11. "A Green Lantern movie would have benefited from a guy like Joel Schumacher."

    A thousand angels just burst into flames, but on the bright side we can use them to light the movie.

  12. I’ve been feeling like a bad (or at least out-of-touch) geek for the fact that I haven’t seen Dark Knight yet, but now I feel like you’ve vindicated me, Valarie - thanks!

    I’m interested in seeing it, if for no other reason than the fact that everyone’s telling me it’s gonna change my life / melt my face off / bring me closer to enlightenment, etc.

    I prefer my own superhero consumption to be a little more rock ‘n roll “sci fi” action-adventure variety - but with some real-world subtext. Marvel really mastered that in the silver age and I think that’s what has given their stories such staying power.

    With the DC Universe it seems the “big event” stuff (movies and comics) adheres to the Moore / Miller “What if superheroes existed in the real world?” aesthetic; I would guess that’s what their fans are drawn to. But for me, you can only play that so far. I saw “Begins” on DVD, and while I enjoyed it, the problem with putting Batman in TOO real of a world is that you come to a point where -- why does he even wear a super-suit? Wouldn't this guy wear a ninja costume, or a ski mask or something?

    I think the Marvel movies' continued success (or potential failure) will be in how well they can pull of the “Marvel Team Up” movie. No way DC can do that with the way they’ve executed their “Big 2” on film. (Which could be okay for them; if The Avengers plays out like one huge cluster f*ck, no one will be clamoring for more films with the individual characters)

  13. I agree on all counts.

    The new DC movies have left me flat. Returns was just one big Richard Donner tribute, which would've been all well and good if this was still the 70s and we hadn't already had 2 movies worth of everything we saw in that one.

    Begins was just...boring. Nothing grabbed me, and the filming was too chaotic. Those up-close fight scenes? Yeah, when I see an action movie, I'd like to SEE the action. The acting was bland and the story was flat. Batman does NOT belong in a REAL WORLD setting, he's TOO larger than life. All I remember is everyone saying how great it was, and my leaving the theater with my friends and all of us saying how much it blew.

    DK, while a mark improvement over Begins, only had the Joker going for it. I enjoyed all the times Joker was on screen, the rest was kinda meh. More flat, blandness. It was too conveluted, and they turned what could have been a great future villain into a throwaway character.

    The Marvel movies do have more life to them. Their characters are dramatic, and that flair comes through in spades. That's not saying every movie was gold, mind you. I mean, Spidey 3 and Hulk were among the worst of the bunch, but even they had at least more redeeming qualities. Marvel's comics were always grounded in reality, so their translation to film isn't all that difficult; the job was half done for them. DC has always been too god-like, so their failing will always be in trying to bring them down to the ground.

  14. Man, this is odd. I have never understood DC v. Marvel zealotry. From either side. My first comics were DC, and the characters and old books are more to my taste, but there are no shortage of Marvel books and characters that rock out loud. So I am plenty happy that Marvel and DC have both managed to make movies that have been successful and profitable. They should try doing the same with their comics some time. ZING!

    RDJ is awesome. He is the only reason that I am dying to see 'Tropic Thunder.' I guess he didn't dig 'The Dark Knight.' A little disappointing to see him drop the F*** DC as a result. I have to say, I did not think it was that tough to grasp, myself, but hey, diff'rent strokes.

  15. Batman had tons of heart, you just have to get past the first 20 minutes. An opinion is an opinion but I think you might have been predisposed to not liking it. It was a perfect Batman story.

    Spiderman 2 was previously my favorite superhero movie but Batman easily topped it. Downey just makes himself sound dumb, it wasn't a David Lynch movie or something.

  16. "My whole thing is that that I saw 'The Dark Knight'. I feel like I'm dumb because I feel like I don't get how many things that are so smart. It's like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I'm like, 'That's not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.'"

    Sounds like someone's off the wagon again. That's unfortunate.

  17. Dark Knight is only about ten times the better film. The last ten minutes of Iron Man with the stupid fight scene killed it.

    I really don't get why RD Jr. hates Dark Knight so much.

    As for the Prestige, that was pure trash. It was supposed to be about magic tricks and it ended up being about clones.

  18. I can't believe I just read a post bemoaning the decline of teen movies, and then you back up RDJ on saying "Dark Knight" was too complicated. I've seen Dark Knight 3 times now and have been blown away by the craft and dedication apparent in the making of the film, but where is this "no heart" criticism coming from? Bruce Wayne is the only character in the movie who doesn't think he'll be Batman for the rest of his life, and he embraces his fate in the end. Dent's rise and fall acts as a mirror to Batman's while Gordon's rise from Captain to Commissioner parallels it. Yes, I know what I'm describing has more to do with craft, but it takes an understanding and apprecation and admiration of the characters to put that much work into the story. Did anyone notice that they play the same musical theme when Gordon reunites with his son that they play whenever they show a moment between Bruce and his father in "Batman Begins?" To take these characters to that level takes nothing but heart.
    "Iron Man" was great because Iron Man is easy. When you're talking about DC heroes, at least the big three, you're dealing with icons that mean something different to everyone. Marvel heroes have very personal identities, so the characterization is what's necessary to make a good Marvel movie. As long as Peter Parker's the hard luck hero, and Tony Stark's the brilliant but careless billionaire, (and the effects don't suck) you've got your movie. Don't get me wrong. I've loved just about every comic movie made since "Blade," but I'm not buying this "Iron Man" worship that's been going on since the movie came out. It was a great, fun movie. But (I think I'm stealing this from Roger Ebert) "Dark Knight" was about showing that the comic book super hero movie could rise to greater heights, whereas "Iron Man" was a little more paint by numbers.
    GL movie would be awesome, but I think DC's always had trouble pushing it's second-tier characters because its business is selling icons, not characters.

  19. Remember when Tony Stark just wanted an American cheeseburger? That's IRON MAN. Delicious. Comes with fries and a toy.

    As for THE DARK KNIGHT...Have you seriously not watched the whole movie? Imagine just having seen the first 20 minutes of The Prestige. It's a complex story, with NO FAT. It needs to be reflected upon and considered.


  20. "Downey earned my respect after this portrayal of Iron Man. Never thought of him as a great actor until now."

    I thought that was going to be the 'quote of the week', but then i read...

    "A Green Lantern movie would have benefited from a guy like Joel Schumacher."

    ...and now my eyes are bleeding.

  21. Dark Knight is finally here in Japan. I'm going to try to see it tomorrow. Iron Man opens next month. I wasn't all that interested in Iron Man until I saw Zodiac.

    Now I'm on a Robert Downey Jr. kick. The guy is awesome.

    I hated Superman Returns. Superman as a loser. The best moments were the ones ripped off from the original movies. The rest of it was a big, dark downer. Funny how they're not in such a lather to make a sequel to that one.

  22. For my part, I thought they were both great. 'Iron Man' took the character back to his roots, and nailed it perfectly on every level, while 'Dark Knight' had that absolutely riveting performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker that carried the film.

    (As soon as Ledger walked on-screen, I was hooked for the rest of the movie. Themes, subtext, yeah, they were there if I wanted them, but it was Ledger's Joker that sold me.)

  23. Dark Knight left me a little cold. I could tell I was watching a good movie, but I wasn't there emotionally.

    I thought it was just fanboy fatigue. As others have pointed out, Dark Knight is just the latest of a long summer of blockbusters. Iron Man. Hellboy II. Wanted. Incredible Hulk. Burn-out seemed like a valid explanation.

    But really, I think it's just as the Occasional Superheroine says: Iron Man had better character, more heart. To borrow from Orson Scott Card's MICE quotient (that stories tend to favor one or two of the following: milieu, idea, character, or event), Iron Man was a better film for characters, and Dark Knight was a better film for ideas.

    Dark Knight and its predecessor were all about "What does it *mean* to be Batman (or Joker)?" (And they had the additional agenda of taking the ridiculous concept of a man in a bat costume and making it credible.) It's all about getting people to take the *idea* seriously.

    Hellboy II tended to favor Milieu. They wanted to show us the amazing settings and creatures of Hellboy's world.

    Meanwhile, Incredible Hulk tended to favor Event (not unusual for a comic book film, but I found it lacking in all the other categories). The action scenes were long, and the character scenes felt like they were cut short.

    Basically, this summer's movies were all told in very different ways. They each had different agendas.

    My favorite was Iron Man. Dark Knight was good, but the characters felt too much like chess pieces.

  24. Much as I love Mr.Downey, Jr., I have to disagree with him. I find Nolan's Batman films to have an ache, a yearning, that perfectly fits the character. Sure, I wish the female characters were there to do something more than provide motivation for the men, but that is a flaw that befalls most of the entertainment media in this country.

    Also, Christian Bale!

  25. I think I know what Downey is saying at least with the Ferrari comment. I enjoyed the movie a great deal but it zips by so fast that I sometimes felt cheated. I wanted to really enjoy the scene of the Joker with his head sticking out of the police car window. It was a creepily beautiful (beautifully creepy?) shot but it's over so fast I didn't really have time to enjoy it. This and the movie seeming to forget that the Joker is still in the penthouse after Batman saves Rachel are the two most obvious examples and there are others but like I said nothing that ruined my enjoyment of the movie.

  26. @snowprincess - Couldn't disagree with you more about The Prestige. And if you think the movie was outlandish, you should have read the original book by Christopher Priest.

    No, not that Christopher Priest.

  27. I have a hard time comparing the movies because they are different. Was Gandhi really a better movie than Tootsie?

    Iron Man was fun, but it reminds of a cheeseburger, which is great when you have it but cheeseburgers tend to be not so memorable. And I love cheeseburgers.

    Dark Knight was so different because of the tone, the ideas, the characters. (My wife--who's not a comic fan--and I were actually sucked in the first 30 minutes of Dark Knight.)

    What I love about Dark Knight is the ambiguity at the time you watch, not unlike a good novels: you have something to think on and then figure out what the point is.

    For example, I've seen several folks take Dark Knight as a kind of testament that you need to play rough with the bad guys and go Gitmo. But I think the movie was more of a statement against it, that Batman raised the level of violence in a way. (Who's to say that Dent and Gordon couldn't have done what they did without the Batman.)

    Some folks don't like that kind of movie, one that isn't so clear cut. I do. I haven't thought twice about Iron Man since I left the theater: it was great as a fun movie, and I loved Downey's take on Stark. It had a political point, but it was a fairly obvious one. That doesn't make it less of a movie.

    The funny thing is that I've not watched Gandhi since I first saw it, but Tootsie I've enjoyed several times since.

  28. <<@snowprincess - Couldn't disagree with you more about The Prestige.>>

    i've been meaning to check out the book. I mean, my sister loved Prestige, thought it was really good so I'm not saying anyone who likes it is crazy.

    @RD Jr.

    funny thing is, I've been trying to remember what happened at the end of Iron Man while I doubt I'll ever forget the end to Dark Knight...not because it was new gospel, but because it was better crafted.

    What happened in Iron Man? The beginning had that journalist who didn't like cluster bombs sleeping with him because why should a woman care about cause or career when there's dick to be had? Way to ruin Ellis's great scene in Extremis.

    Then RD Jr fools those terrorists who can't tell the difference between a missle and a suit of armor. The middle was where the movie shone, and the final fight crapped on that - which was another dumbing down of Extremis anyway. Where the movie deserves praise is in not making every Afghani a bad guy, and showing that while the US bemoans the Taliban the people there have it far, far worse.

    And the end - I honestly don't remember. Does Stark stop making weapons - in which case goodbye stocks!

    Simply stated - Iron Man was good for a comic book movie, Dark Knight was good for a movie. Saying something childish like "Fuck DC Comics" sounds like the sourest grapes to me.

  29. Here's the deal: DC comics are mythology in the Joseph Campbell sense of the word. Batman is a god of vengeance. Superman is a god of power. The Joker is a god of madness.

    That's the canvas they work with. The characters are always, at their core, better than we could ever hope to be.

    Marvel's characters, developed two decades later, are defined by their weaknesses and humanity. Blind lawyers, nebbish science students, brilliant surgeons with ruined hands, alcoholic businessmen, etc.

    Both types of stories can be entertaining as hell. But Marvel's characters are almost always easier to relate to. Thy have real world problems and weaknesses.

    I can see myself in Peter Parker or Tony Stark, I could never be as driven as Bruce Wayne or as certain of my morality as Clark Kent, though.

    I thought the Dark Knight was fantastic when viewed in that context.

  30. The point and storylines of both movies are so different, it's hard to compare them. It would be a tougher question to ask which one had to prove itself more. I think the Dark Knight had to top Batman Begins, especially with all the stuff that happened before its release. Iron Man had to prove it could stand on its own, but really if it had only been as good as Daredevil there wouldn't be much disappointment.

  31. Anonymous12:44 AM

    See, I took it in a different direction and almost felt like RDJ was tweaking himself saying how he wasn't smart enough to get TDK rather then something more straightforward like Iron Man.

    Which sounds like how many of the bigger critics have been going, Iron Man is the really good popcorn and simple action flick while TDK is the thinking man's action movie.

  32. there were very few fight scenes and the fight scenes they did have were lame. i love batman comics. and batman 1 2 and begins but go back and watch the fight scenes of TDK. LAME. still a dark and cool story line. the scene with the office and plane was priceless. I also like the allusion to "The Killing Joke". all it takes is one bad day.

  33. Try watching Dark Knight all the way through before criticizing it as inferior to Iron Man. The second time will be even better. It's damn near perfect storytelling. And while I liked Iron Man a great impressive was no Dark Knight in terms of scope/depth. I'd place you among the world's minority when it comes to disliking Dark Knight.

  34. See, what I love about the Batman movies is how they analyze heroism, and that's the kind of philosophy that interests me. I love superheroes and I love to see what would motivate someone to put on a goofy costume and try to take on the world.

    In Batman Begins, you get the actual motivation for it and the "people need a dramatic symbol to shake them out of apathy" idea.

    In Dark Knight, we get to see how different types of heroes interact and the tragedies that can befall them.

  35. I enjoyed both films for what they respectively are. Both are worth the time, and the money to me.

    C'est ça, ça suffit, c'est fini.

  36. I think Robert D. Jr. is half and half about what he said, but I think he might be a little jelous if he really did say F*%$ D.C. comics! Did he really say that? But I think Iron Man was a better movie because it's not so up tight as dark knight the people in the dark knight seem to look like they have sticks up their ass's they are way to serious.

  37. I love Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. was great in it!!

  38. Oh no another DC versus Marvel, book versus movie, NFL versus CFL debate! Errr, (you guys know what CFL is right?)

    I haven't seen the Dark Knight but I enjoyed "Batman Returns".

    I liked the Spidey, X-men and loved Iron Man.

    The rest of the comic book adaptations have left me indifferent.

    Robert Downey is a good actor but his comments on much of anything have left me cold since he woke up in the bed of some kid in the wrong house after a drug induced haze...


  39. Do you think it's possible that there is a subconcious dislike for all things DC in the back of your head due to the issues you had to go through when working for them?

    This is an honest question... not a snide or sarcastic remark.

    I myself was blown away by Dark Knight. The pain that Bruce, Harvey and Rachel go through in the movie. The feel of the film. The unreal performances... I liked Iron Man a LOT. It was an excellent film. However comparing it and Dark Knight is like comparing Bull Durham and The Godfather. I love both films and both have excellent performances, writing and look... but jeez.

  40. Do you think it's possible that there is a subconcious dislike for all things DC in the back of your head due to the issues you had to go through when working for them?

    Whether or not Val consciously or subconsciously dislikes DC, she's never done anything to make me feel she was being unfair to them.

    One of the reasons I like this blog is that she can express her opinions like a grown-up. You won't find any of that "Bendis sux" or "JMS is a hack" from her... or the DC equivalents of such phrases.

  41. I'm like totally late to the game here, but here I go:

    First off--love, Love, LOVE Iron Man. Secondly, love, Love, LOVE RDJ.

    Now that's out of the way:

    Dark Knight is really very much in keeping with the DC way of doing things. In the DC universe, the heroes are...bascially...Gods. They weren't thrust unwillingly into their heroism, they had a choice, and chose to be Gods on earth for the good of all mankind.

    Marvel heroes have their heroic status thrust upon them. They are either born that way (mutants), they are involved in a lab accident which creates their heroic persona (Spiderman, Hulk, Fantastic Four, etc) or they have to take on the hero mantle, because of their situation (IronMan).

    That being said, I enjoy each set of films (Marvel and DC) as they are, and I repeat to myself,it's just a show, I should really just relax. LOL.

    But, I have to take issue with "The Prestige". I saw it...I didn't like it. But I couldn't put into words what it was about it that I didn't like.

    Thank God for PJ at, for helping me out:

    "Christopher Nolan's rather horrible thingy about turn of the century magicians one-uping each other over and over until you can't look at a canary without wanting to gouge your own eyes out."