Director James Gunn, whose The Suicide Squad released on Thursday, has reacted to a post stating any actor with wit could have played the role of Tony Stark or Iron Man, and the movies did not need Robert Downey Jr. His reaction was blunt. He wrote, “I’ve seen the screen tests. This is bulls**t.”
The original tweet, by UK’s The Sunday Times’ official account, read: “The big titles of the past decade are brands and franchises established in numerous prequels and sequels. Robert Downey Jr is a leading man, but his Iron Man could be played by almost anyone with wit; the character is more important to audiences than the actor.”
I’ve seen the screen tests. This is bullshit.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 1, 2021
The tweet was in the context of an article about whether the era of the leading man is ending, and Matt Damon is the last of them.
Gunn’s reaction is understandable even for those of us who have not seen the screen tests. There have been few actors in the 21st century who have owned the role they played that definitively as Downey Jr did. Other actors could conceivably play the role, and certainly play it well, but it is hard to imagine any of that since Robert Downey Jr has left an indelible impression on the fans of what the character is.
When the film was being made, Jon Favreau was still to establish himself as a director. Robert Downey Jr had an impressive filmography but was battling with substance abuse. In fact, Favreau has spoken about how Marvel didn’t want the actor onboard ‘at any cost’. However, the director realised that there were a lot of parallels between the arc of Tony Stark and Downey Jr. “Everybody knew he was talented… Certainly by studying the Iron Man role and developing that script I realised that the character seemed to line-up with Robert in all the good and bad ways. And the story of Iron Man was really the story of Robert’s career,” he said in an interview.
Meanwhile, Gunn’s debut DC movie The Suicide Squad has received extremely positive reviews. 95 per cent reviews of the movie are positive as per review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. He earlier directed Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel.
The critical consensus reads, “Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn’s singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material’s violent, anarchic strengths.”