Appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience, Robert Downey Jr., who deftly turned the formerly mid-tier hero Iron Man into a household name over the course of nine films in ten years that culminated with this year’s record-breaking Avengers: Endgame, spent over an hour discussing his fascinating life and career, particularly within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While reflecting on the transition of superhero fiction from campy amusement to serious cinema (the opinions of Martin Scorsese notwithstanding), the two briefly touched on another iconic superhero.
When asked how many different versions of the DC Comics mainstay Batman have appeared on-screen, Downey Jr.’s only response was: “I want to see what Pattinson does. I like that guy.” Downey and Pattison technically worked on the same project once, in the 2010 direct-to-video romance Love & Distrust, which consisted of five distinct short films, though they appeared in separate parts of the movie (Downey appeared in “Auto Motives” segment, while Pattinson appeared in “The Summer House” story).
Downey’s enthusiasm for Pattinson’s portrayal of an upstart incarnation of Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’s forthcoming DCEU film The Batman stands in stark contrast to the cynicism and criticism with which the casting decision was received by the online community. The overwhelming reaction to the announcement of Pattinson’s hiring was derisive, and based almost entirely on the actor’s involvement with the Twilight franchise.
It also completely ignored the rest of Pattinson’s considerable body of professional work, which includes playing Eric Packer in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, T. E. Lawrence in Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, Salvadore Dalí in Paul Morrison’s Little Ashes, Ephraim Winslow in Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, and Louis, Duke of Guyenne, in David Michôd’s The King. In short, given the company of a talented director and a solid script, Pattinson regularly delivers truly powerhouse performances.
Downey’s support is additionally interesting given that Iron Man, who first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39 in March of 1963, is very much Marvel’s own version of DC’s long-established Batman, who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in March of 1939, with the serial numbers filed off. After all, Stark and Wayne are both obscenely wealthy playboys who moonlight as costumed vigilantes armed with proprietary technology and immeasurable brilliance while also battling their own internal, psychological demons in part related to the murders of their parents.
The Batman is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters June 25th, 2021, while Downey’s latest project, the critically eviscerated Dolittle, premieres Friday, January 17th.