..but they just don’t make the grade!..
Being cool is just an ethereal, magical quality that sometimes happens upon a corporeal form. As is the case with Iron Man /Tony Stark /Robert Downey, Jr.
Right man. Right time. Right casting. Perfect formula. But it’s very much a one off thing. One cannot truly replicate that. You can mirror some of the beats, sure. Just don’t expect to play the music as successfully.
Here is a non exhaustive list of movie characters that mistakenly were directed / actively tried to equal that coolness and failed. Bigly..Here we go!
- GREEN LANTERN / RYAN REYNOLDS
The film is not as bad as everyone makes out. Great visuals. Epic score. Unique balance of sci-fi and reality /mysticism. Indeed, it’s a shame they did not stick with this approach: a DCEU that did not connect but had plenty properties with multiple series.
Reynolds can be funny, too. But you cannot be worthy, heroic, cynical, brave, cowardly, complex, cocky, flirty, faithful, broody, blue yet white collar..all at once.
Characters can have shades and evolve in an arc. Just not in this slipshod manner. They even use airfields and military industrial imagery to try and help the Iron Man echoes..it just feels so wrong…
- DOCTOR STRANGE / CUMBERBATCH:
A scientist /medic with cash who likes the high life, goes on a journey post trauma and becomes a hero. Has a goatee. Now, whilst I like Cumberbatch and he does go well WITH Stark in Avengers films..trying to cast him as romantic leading funny charming action man complex hero in his own movies is..total bollox.
I am being a bit unkind here as Iron Man is arguably and answer TO Batman. That said? The Justice League /Affleck iteration owes a LOT in its aesthetic to Stark tech and lifestyle.
- REY SKYWALKER / POE DAMERON:
‘AND I AM..IRON WOMAN’ (Not a direct quote but suspect you get me?). I adore Daisy Ridley (#futurewife?). But giving her Tony Stark level lines just..no! Not earned by the story. And at odds with the character. Ditto Poe Dameron, whose wise cracking Han Solo Tony Stark routine just does not work because he was written as an orthodox career serviceman pilot rather than lovable rogue.
- TONY STARK / IRON MAN:
Yes. I mean this. Downey played the role for 11 years. But in the true sense, I only see the character in a pure form in say three or four key films. He is always entertaining.
It’s just that the best work matches a linear arc and story progression to character motif and style.
Hence, Iron Man 2 (much as I love it) does not work, as it undoes the humanity and heroism earned in part 1.
Iron Man 3 (meh) tries too hard to please everyone.
Age of Ultron (fine, but..) has him making the same mistakes all over again. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (you love it, i hate it) uses Tony as tiresomely didactic exposition.
By contrast? For the perfect trilogy of story utility matching the zippy improv wit, visual lifestyle fun, innovation and social progression? For chemistry with supporting cast; clarity of purpose in plot/set-piece?
See: Iron Man 1 (Stark becomes the hero). Avengers 1: Stark joins a team and saves the world. Spider-Man: Homecoming = Full circle, Tony as mentor /father figure and reconciled with Pepper Potts.
The rest? The codas? Watchable but not ‘pure’ Stark..though thankfully we have so much footage to enjoy. No unmade sequels or untold stories. Which is why bringing him back, if at all, is a massive risk and must be done ‘right’.
Parallel universe Hydra baddie / Dr Doom / Mephisto /Magneto level villain, redeemed in one last hurrah? Maybe..though even that feels kinda redundant.
Downey’s shadow is as strong as any heroic light, to the extent he can upstage an entire movie in which he is only mentioned in his absence (Far from Home; any other Avenger hero individual sequel).
Moral of the story: any old wally can play a hero. The truly ‘super’ ones are once in a generation..