Getting Downey on “The Dark Knight”

August 26th, 2008 | Posted in News

Regular blog reader Chip O’Brien sent me a link yesterday to this article about how “Iron Man” star Robert Downey Jr. disses “The Dark Knight” in this article on

“My whole thing is that I saw ‘The Dark Knight’. I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved ‘The Prestige’ but didn’t understand ‘The Dark Knight’. Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so [expletive] smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? [Expletive] DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from.” >> Read the full interview.

I loved “Iron Man”, but this sounds like sour grapes to me. The story must be making perfect sense to a few people, as they have so far blown about $490 million on tickets. I believe “Iron Man” topped out at $320 million. As fun and entertaining as “Iron Man” was it was much more of a popcorn flash-bang film than “The Dark Knight”, which took a lot more risks than Downey’s film did.

I went to the latest Batman movie without much in the way of high expectations, as I don’t care a lot for the dark-for-dark’s-sake take that I was fearing it was going to embrace. Like I said in my review of the movie, it was plenty dark but it balanced it all with a great story, pacing, action, character development and some incredible performances by some actors playing parts that were anything but cartoonish. The most amazing part for me was that John Q. Public, not exactly known for their discriminating taste in films (Will Ferrell, anyone?) responded with a resounding stamp of approval. I would have expected the movie to get critical acclaim and do good but hardly outstanding box office numbers. It just goes to show if you have a good story and all the other elements to make an entertaining film, audiences will sit through the deep and dark themes.

Robert Downey Jr. sounds like a baby with those statements. Get over it, man… and get on to “Iron Man 2”!!


  1. Well, I liked the Dark Knight way better than iron man because, Iron Man was a kind of predictable “superhero” movie like Spiderman or other Marvel comic movies. In the dark knight you in a way forget its a superhero movie and just think of it as an incredible motion picture film. So I guess what i am saying is that iron man (which was the best Marvel movie I have ever seen) was kind of the same old same old superhero movie, were no one important gets killed or nothing major happens to the important characters (child friendly), were as in the dark knight it is REAL, so anything can happen, and Christopher Nolan is not afraid to like you said, take risks.

  2. Antzo8 says:

    I loved both movies, but nobody can deny how amazing The Dark Knight really was. It was an epic crime drama rather than a comic book film. But Iron Man is still one of the better comic movies the 2000s. A hit, unlike some of the misses like Daredevil, Catwoman, Ghost Rider, Hulk….

  3. Tom says:

    Couldn’t agree more with both of you. In case I wasn’t clear in the post, I thought “Iron Man” was a terrific movie, by far the best of the Marvel based films and one of the best superhero adaptations ever. Downey was fantastic in it. I just think it’s sad that he feels the need to insult another, and very different, film that doesn’t deserve it.

  4. mg1984 says:

    Haven’t gotten arround to seeing either film, and am not surprised about Downeys comments as he’s arrogant and disagreeable about most things he critques. He’s like most people who quit smoking or drinking, or some other vice, irritable in general. Downey is a great actor, I personally thought he was great in Home for the holidays, but we have to remember, he’s an actor, he’s not a film critic. He probably hasn’t written any scripts, probably isn’t an avid comic book reader, probably doesn’t go to see terribly many movies, unless its a premiere. He probably never saw the the previous Batman movie. More importantly Comic book movies are a distninctly different genre from say a movie George C Scott would do. When I saw the last batman movie I wanted to be entertained, I wasn’t looking for an academy award performance, I wanted to see someone who seemed like batman. I get the feeling Downey was trying to be like James Lipton or something. Personally, I’d rather listen to a Stan Lee, or a Kevin Smith talk about these films because they care about the characters, the stories, and the myths.

  5. Mark Heng says:

    Hmmm…Is this a Marvel vs. DC smackdown? Do you think actors in Marvel films feel somewhat obliged to diss DC projects? And vice versa?

  6. mg1984 says:

    Here’s what Kevin Smith had to say

    “Without giving anything away, this is an epic film (and trust me: based on the sheer size and scope of the visuals and storytelling, that’s not an overstatement). It’s the “Godfather II” of comic book films and three times more earnest than “Batman Begins” (and f#@k, was that an earnest film). Easily the most adult comic book film ever made. Heath Ledger didn’t so much give a performance as he disappeared completely into the role; I know I’m not the first to suggest this, but he’ll likely get at least an Oscar nod (if not the win) for Best Supporting Actor. Fu%$ing flick’s nearly three hours long and only leaves you wanting more (in a great way). I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by it. Nolan and crew have created something close to a masterpiece.”

  7. mengblom says:

    I dunno…I saw both films and actually preferred Iron-Man over Dark Knight, for many of the reasons Downey cited. I think if someone doesn’t get what Nolan was trying to do, or isn’t fond of the direction he went in, it doesn’t necessarily indicate sour grapes.

  8. Tom says:

    Well, it’s one thing to say the movie was confusing and another to say “{expletive} DC Comics!” and accuse the filmmakers of making a high brow, “art house” snob movie that you “clearly need a college education to understand”. For starters, DC had a lot less control over the creation of that film than Marvel did “Iron Man”, so blaming DC comics for the bad (or good) of the film is stupid. Secondly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a film maker treating his or her audience like they actually have a brain instead of playing it safe and just churning out another predictable summer popcorn film like some of the last few Batman movies degenerated to.

    I like fun, colorful, popcorn adventures as much as the next guy, and “Iron Man” is one of the best I’ve ever seen… but nobody is going to mistake Jeff Bridge’s role for Heath Ledger’s, or Bale’s for Downey Jr’s for that matter. Comparing the two is like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges.

  9. mengblom says:

    “Secondly, I don‚Äö√Ñ√¥t think there is anything wrong with a film maker treating his or her audience like they actually have a brain instead of playing it safe…”

    Nor do I…but I think the results of Nolan’s “non-popcorn” take (as noble as it was for him to pursue) are certainly up for debate as to how successful or coherent they were. Although vastly outnumbered by positive reviews, some of the few negative reviews (including my own) have tried to detail some of the films shortcomings, demonstrating that some less-than-thrilled viewers do *indeed* have a brain, but (for a whole host of thoughtful and vallid reasons) just weren’t buying what Nolan was selling.

    Yeah, Downey’s a bit of jerk, and he seems to have no idea how the “pipeline” for these types of films work (maybe his experience with Marvel Studios skewed his perception of how involved the comics guys are), but at the same time, I think a case can be made for Downey’s perception of the film and his charges of incoherent storytelling. Maybe that’s all he (and people like me) are trying to say: “Um….sorry…but I didn’t get it.”

    Those that did? That’s great….I’m glad the $8 or $9 was well spent…but some of us (for a constellation of reasons) didn’t connect with Nolan’s vision.

  10. JWB1 says:

    When I heard Downey’s quote it seemed to be a bit like pro wrestlers spiel. Both films are very good, but I think the box office of the two is really amazing. The fact that Iron Man ( to be honest a second string Marvel hero) could take in over 300 million is a testament to the talents of Downey and Favreau.

    I’ve got to jump in on your dig at Will Ferrell. I think he’s been in several classic screen comedies ( Elf, Anchorman, Talledega Nights), but when he’s lazy (Semi-Pro) or just there for a big payday(Bewitched), the public stays away. I’ll give him chance for a couple more flicks. Now Adam Sandler,on the other hand…

  11. drmcnutt says:

    I didn’t care for Downey’s comments. I’m happy we had more than one success story in the field of comic movies this summer. Iron Man was fun and Downey helped make it that way, but there were holes in his movie you could drive a truck through. Any criticism of “incoherence” in TDK pales in comparison to the scene where Stane throws Tony’s reactor into his Iron Monger suit and uses it with no problems. I mean come on Stark the genius spends practically the whole movie figuring out his toys and Stane simply IS Iron Monger at the end. No hesitation, no training, no problem!

    Of course comparing TDK to Iron Man is unfair to Iron Man. We’ll see if IM2 can live up to the trail blazed by TDK or simply more of the same.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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