Avengers: Age Of Ultron is out, and as our review stated, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It doesn’t have the novelty or originality of The Avengers, to be sure, but it progresses Marvel’s overarching narrative pretty effectively. Also, the action and main characters, as always, were incredibly enjoyable.
But if there’s one gripe to be had with Age Of Ultron, it’s that in setting up the coming narrative of conflict between Tony Stark and Captain America, the film took a little bit of the fun out of Stark. We’ve come to know him as an eccentric and hilarious blend of traits—heroic but imminently human, brilliant but silly, carefree but conscientious. And in Age Of Ultron, he just felt a little dry and serious compared to the Tony Stark we’ve grown to know and love.
This wasn’t a huge deal because, again, the movie is a blast for anyone who enjoys the superhero genre. But because it lacked a vintage Tony Stark moment—and as a reminder of just how much fun Robert Downey, Jr. can be when the script allows it—here’s a fun look back at five of his best moments ever on screen, in Marvel films and elsewhere.
1. “I’m The Dude, Playing The Dude….”
If you’re a fan of Tropic Thunder, you know the rest. In an incredibly absurd moment of cinematic history—and a pretty offensive one, depending on how far you think movie comedy should go—Robert Downey, Jr. boldly exclaims, “I’m a dude, playing a dude disguised as another dude!” while wearing face paint designed to make him look African-American.
The scene was part of Downey, Jr.’s role as Kirk Lazarus, a white actor thrust into a war zone in the tropics to play the part of a black hero. Downey, Jr. goes all-in on the part, brilliantly and hilariously portraying Lazarus getting carried away with his own role. You can view the clip here.
2. “There was like an 8% chance….”
In a famous scene in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Downey Jr. (in the role of Harry Lockhart) grows impatient with an interrogation and—moments after explaining the ambiguity of the statement, “imagine a bullet in your head”—grabs a revolver, spins a single bullet in its cartridge, and fires at the captive. It’s all an attempt to make the point that he’s not bluffing. When the bullet fires and kills the captive, Lockhart’s explanation to his partner is, “there was like an 8% chance!” The fun thing about this scene is that it’s about the only one in all of cinema that emphasizes how absurd Russian roulette really is.
Going by the official rules listed at InterCasino, an online gaming platform with a section just for roulette, the odds of landing on a single slot are far lower than the 8% odds you get with a revolver. Basically, depending on whether you’re playing European or American roulette, there are 37 or 38 slots, meaning the odds of a single one being hit are closer to just under 3%. That makes Russian roulette’s 8% seem like a pretty serious gamble, which makes Downey, Jr.’s incredulous reaction all the more enjoyable. Watch the scene here.
3. “How d’you do, Sir? I’m Charlie Chaplin.”
That line alone captures the bizarre nature of an actor taking on a speaking role in which he plays a famous actor known for silent films. In one of the most iconic scenes from the movie that netted Downey, Jr. his first Oscar nomination, the actor (in the role of Charlie Chaplin) introduces himself to a dubious Dan Akroyd before performing a brief, absurd, brilliantly Chaplin-esque sketch (pretending to be a drunk) in order to secure a role.
4. “How do you explain that lapse in judgment?”
The Judge was one of the most underrated movies of 2014, and Downey, Jr. was sensational in it. Yes, it’s cheesy and clichéd at times, but this film was basically an arena for Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall to play off each other, and boy, do they do it beautifully in this scene.
Charged with the task of portraying a harsh, big city lawyer cross-examining his own estranged father—a small town judge on trial for a hit-and-run murder—RDJ commands the courtroom as so many actors before him have tried to do. However, very few succeed to this extent. Watch the scene here.
5. “I am Iron Man.”
No, the “I am Iron Man” scene at the end of Iron Man wasn’t necessarily the most complex showcase of Downey, Jr.’s immense talent. But it did package all of Tony Stark—the quirky, on-the-go quick talking, the vague flirtation, the pride, recklessness, narcissism and raw charisma—into about two minutes. It also effectively introduced what’s become the defining role of a great career.
Naturally, some great films and scenes were left off this list. But as good as Age Of Ultron was for superhero fans, watching all these scenes again only makes me hope there’s a bit more Tony next time around!