Robert Downey Jr. Is Now Immortal

Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man is now in the U.S. National Film Registry.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

robert downey jr.

The film that started the golden age of superhero films— Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man (2008), just made it into the Stateside Library of Congress, officially making the MCU a part of United States History. According to, only 25 films are registered in the Library of Congress annually, and they can be from any genre. The fact that historians have officially recognized a superhero film says a lot about American filmmaking and how the comic book genre has impacted our society.

The films that get archived in the Stateside Library of Congress are considered to be almost flawless reflections of the art of filmmaking that have also significantly impacted both American culture and human society as a whole. These films are archived in order to be preserved for future generations to help them understand the culture of the American people as it is now.

Because the only films that get entered into the Library are highly-rated works of art, it might seem strange that a movie that is widely regarded as a “popcorn flick” (as in, a movie that is meant to sell popcorn and doesn’t reflect the art of cinema) by harsher critics was cemented into American history with other cinema classics. But, when you think about it, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is an excellent choice for this year’s selection.

Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man

Before Robert Downey Jr. starred in Iron Man, superhero films were out of fashion, thanks to a solid decade of generally mediocre movies (looking at you, 1997’s Batman & Robin). Not only did 2008’s Iron Man breathe new life into the superhero genre, but it started a phenomenon that has permanently impacted our culture as we know it. With 40 movies and series created (and counting) around the characters from Marvel comics, Marvel’s success in the cinematic universe inspired DC to step up their game, too, starting a cinematic competition that has been going on for almost 15 years.

Despite what some film critics might think about the art of the superhero genre, there is no doubt that Robert Downey Jr. changed film history when he accepted the role of Tony Stark, which is why it makes sense that Iron Man be included in the list of 25 films added to the Library this year.

In addition to Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, plenty of other history-making films were archived this year. The classic rom-com with Meg Ryan’s world-famous fake-sex scene, When Harry Met Sally… (1989), was cataloged, along with the film’s iconic line, “I’ll have what she’s having,” which was delivered by the film’s director, Rob Reiner’s mother, Estelle Reiner. Another 1989 classic, Disney’s animated The Little Mermaid, was also registered with this year’s collection.

Films of any genre and from any year can be chronicled within the 25 selected for any given year. In fact, newsreel footage of a Mardi Gras Carnival Parade from 1898 was archived with this year’s assemblage after it had been lost and later found in a museum in the Netherlands.

After this year’s additions have been accounted for, the Library now holds 850 American films archived as part of U.S. history.