The days are numbered for the Avenger who always has a way out: where should RDJ go post MCU?
The original Avenger of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Robert Downey Jr. has played a major role in anchoring one of the most financially successful, genre-defining franchises in history. So, what’s next? According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has announced Downey and Jude Law will once again return to their roles as fiction’s best and most iconic crime solving duo.
You deduced it: the game is officially afoot for Sherlock Holmes 3.
The studio is aiming for Christmas Day release in 2020. Which is interesting in the sense that a Sherlock Holmes movie will yet again be up against an Avatar picture’s second weekend. The universe is funny. Or, maybe time really is a flat circle. I don’t know.
The news really does leave you wondering what Downey Jr. will get up to after his time in the MCU presumably comes to an end next year after the release of Avengers 4.
Since Iron Man, he’s only starred in five non-MCU films, two of which were Sherlock Holmes installments, including the 2011 sequel, A Game of Shadows. He made The Soloist with Jamie Foxx in 2009. Then there was Due Date in 2010 and The Judge in 2015. He also had supporting roles in a couple of productions, including his Oscar-nominated turn in Tropic Thunder.
Coming off an insane decade of successfully making the argument that his star power still exists, how will he exercise that heft?
As of right now, he’s got three non-Avengers films on the books by 2020. The first will be All-Star Weekend, the feature film directorial debut of Jamie Foxx about rival basketball fans trying to get to the All-Star game, and I’m thrilled that Downey has signed on to that project. Downey and Foxx had great chemistry in The Soloist that they’ll no doubt bring to this new picture. And it will be nice to see him in another straight comedy. Like, Tropic Thunder. Peak comedic RDJ.
He’s also teaming up with Stephen Gaghan, the guy who wrote Havoc, Syriana, and Traffic, to lead a new, star-studded version of everyone’s favorite animal medium with The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
And now there’s the Sherlock sequel. It’s a bit surprising that he’d jump on a franchise that hasn’t seen a movie released in nine years. As far as I can tell, his main goal is to enjoy himself. Good on him. If blockbusters are his way to do that, then he really isn’t going wrong with another turn as the popular detective.
The first Sherlock Holmes film from 2009 is a delightful take on the character in the often imitated, rarely duplicated, Guy Ritchie idiom. Downey plays the bombastic, aggressively neurotic version of the detective to perfection. And the chemistry he has with Law is deeply engaging.
But I’d love to see him go way smaller. Not necessarily art house fare. I loved him in Chef, Jon Favreau’s passion project about a chef looking to get his life back together. The film is full of heart, earnestness, and salacious food pornography. I know Downey didn’t star in it, but just imagine if he spent the next little while investing his time in indie passion projects with his friends.
He’s a talented dramatist, though. He is great in The Soloist. And in Zodiac. And, he can legit sing. Imagine giving him a small film, with a hell of a dramatic role that capitalized on his presence and skills. I’m thinking something like Jeff Bridges had with Crazy Heart. A redemption story for a down and out country singer. The pathos! And the soundtrack!
Remember when Chris Evans took off from the MCU for a bit and did a movie where he had a monologue about what babies taste like when you eat them? Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer is amazing in part because Captain America ate babies. Well, okay. That’s a bit of hyperbole.
Really, that science fiction project was a chance for Evans to play with this image he’d created for himself as America’s Avenger. In this smaller genre film, he was a man who learned the hard way that at his core, he was a survivor. The opposite of the guy who’d lay himself across the wire to let the other guy get the mission accomplished. But, what do you do when people look at you like their own Avenger and you know why you’re still around?
Downey doesn’t have to go quite that far. However, with his star cred, he’s got the ability to push edgy genre projects beyond what they might otherwise be able to reach.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be in theaters on Boxing Day 2020 checking out Sherlock Holmes 3. I’m there for that RDJ charisma. But, he could get up to some really wild or fun stuff when he’s got free time and MCU dollar dollar bills to burn. Like, oh, I don’t know. If he’s going to go detective, what about a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?