The Robert Downey Jr. Beloved Flop That Made Him Iron Man

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

robert downey jr kiss kiss bang bang

It’s almost impossible to imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe without Robert Downey, Jr: his declaration that “I am Iron Man” proved prophetic, as it has become the role the veteran actor is best known for. Every nerd worth his salt has already watched hit MCU films like Iron Man and Avengers: Endgame, but sadly, few people have watched the movie that helped the actor join Marvel. Robert Downey Jr. dazzled as the lead actor in the 2005 black comedy film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and he later said this comeback role helped him land Iron Man because it got Jon Favreau’s attention.

Robert Downey Jr. In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Robert Downey Jr

Some younger readers raised on Marvel movies might wonder why someone as obviously charming and talented as Robert Downey Jr. would even need a comeback film, much less one as obscure as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

The short answer is that after an amazing early career, he struggled with drug addiction in a very public way which included frequent arrests, time in jail, and even losing his Malibu home thanks to legal bills.

Eventually, he sought help and got clean for good, but before that, his career was on life support after he was fired from the hit Ally McBeal TV show.

Robert Downey Jr. Was In A Weird Place

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This left Robert Downey Jr. in a weird place as a performer: while he knew he had gotten clean, Hollywood was still wary of someone with such a spotty record.

The talented actor was in need of a comeback film, and that’s exactly what Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ended up being. On top of its great plot (more on this in a moment), the movie’s whip-sharp dialogue helped remind audiences of just how funny and charismatic Downey, Jr. could be.

Wowed Critics And Audiences

If you’ve never seen it, the movie is about a crook (Robert Downey Jr.) who accidentally auditions for a film and is transported to the West Coast.

There, he runs into his childhood sweetie, but he also becomes a part of a murder mystery he wants no part of. Thanks to its hilariously black humor, expert film noir parody, and killer cast (Val Kilmer is particularly excellent), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a movie that wowed critics and audiences alike despite its bad box office.

Jon Favreau Loved Robert Downey Jr.’s Performance

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One of the people most impressed with Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was Iron Man director Jon Favreau.

The actor gives the earlier comedy plenty of credit for his career comeback, with Downey, Jr. later saying that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang “ended up being my calling card to Iron Man.”

Thanks to Downey, Jr’s previous arrests and struggles with drug addiction, though, Favreau had trouble getting the studio on board with his choice to play Tony Stark.

Big Influence On Iron Man

robert downey jr

Favreau managed to get Robert Downey Jr. cast in the part, and the director rightfully believed that instead of the actor’s shady past being a detriment, it would help him convincingly play a narcissistic character who redeems himself.

Incidentally, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s DNA is deeply ingrained into the first Iron Man film. Favreau enjoyed the humor and dialogue in that film so much that he frequently consulted with its director, Shane Black, while working on Iron Man.

For better or for worse, Marvel would bring Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black back together when the latter directed the controversial Iron Man 3.

Robert Downey Jr. Can Thank Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

These days, Robert Downey Jr. has been diving into meatier opportunities, including starring in Christopher Nolan’s award-winning Oppenheimer. He wouldn’t be doing so, however, if not for the success of Iron Man, a role he never would have gotten if not for the quality of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

While you wait for Marvel to crank out another decent movie (warning: it might be a long wait), there’s no time like the present to buy or rent (it’s on Prime Video) that quirky comedy that launched the greatest career comeback in Hollywood history.

robert downey jr

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