Robert Downey Jr. Can’t Even Say The Names Of DC Characters

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

robert downey jr
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

After playing Iron Man for over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. is synonymous with the Marvel brand. So it should come as no shock to fans that during a recent interview, the actor couldn’t bring himself to utter the name of the DC character Cillian Murphy played in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. According to the website ComicBook.com, the best Downey could manage was a whisper.

“I whispered because I have a problem talking about DC characters. I don’t know if I was programmed or not, but I was in this room with a lot of flashing lights once. Long story, thanks Kevin.”

Robert Downey Jr.

The interview was a joint effort with Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan in which the two answered the most Googled questions about themselves. When Nolan began discussing his work with Murphy prior to Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr. could barely bring himself to whisper the name “Scarecrow.”

Cillian Murphey in Batman Begins

When asked why he whispered, the 58-year-old said that he had “a problem talking about DC characters” before alluding to alleged brainwashing from Marvel guru Kevin Feige.

As snarky as his signature character, sometimes it’s hard to tell where Tony Stark ends and Robert Downey Jr. begins.

“I don’t know if I was programmed or not, but I was in this room with a lot of flashing lights once. Long story, thanks, Kevin.” the actor said with his trademark cheek. While Robert Downey Jr. was obviously joking about being physically brainwashed not to bring up what Stan Lee used to refer to as the “Distinguished Competition,” it does beg the question of whether Marvel actors are forbidden from talking about DC on set.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. For years employers for Pepsi and Coke have told stories about not being able to drink the other companies’ products during work hours. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the MCU has a similar rule.

While not impossible, it is very unlikely that such a rule exists. James Gunn explained back in 2021 that several actors have been a part of both franchises, sometimes at the same time. We can only assume that if Disney has no problem with its actors going to play in the DC sandbox, then they wouldn’t object to discussions involving the rival superhero universe either.

It begs the question of whether Marvel actors are forbidden from talking about DC on set.

It’s far more likely Robert Downey Jr. was just playing up the friendly rivalry that the two companies have had for decades.

DC in Marvel Movies

Several Marvel movies have even included direct references to DC, from the scene in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man where Aunt May tells Peter, “You’re not Superman, you know,” to the part in Eternals where Gilgamesh says to Karun, “Oh valet. Like Alfred in Batman.” We won’t even get started on all of the Green Lantern jokes in the Deadpool films.

It could very well be that Robert Downey Jr. feels a certain loyalty to the franchise that, quite frankly, he built. If the original Iron Man hadn’t been the hit that it was, the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it wouldn’t exist.

Robert Downey Jr
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron man

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was the foundation upon which the whole Avengers franchise was built. Therefore it’s not surprising that the Iron Man actor might not want to shout out the name of a rival character.

However, the simplest reason for Robert Downey Jr. to have whispered the word “Scarecrow,” is also the most likely. He was probably just trying to get a laugh out of Nolan. Anyone who’s ever seen an RDJ interview knows that the star is very seldom serious, and this was most likely just another instance where he saw the opportunity for a joke and went for it.

As snarky as his signature character, sometimes it’s hard to tell where Tony Stark ends and Robert Downey Jr. begins.

robert downey jr

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