At the time of this posting, Avengers: Endgame has not dethroned Avatar as the highest-grossing motion picture of all time (yet). Is that enough reward for this fantastic film?
Following the heavy marketing push for Black Panther Academy Award consideration, it was provided seven Oscar nominations and won three. Granted, Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart), Best Original Score (Ludwig Goransson), and Best Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter) are all important to the making of any film. However, they are not considered among the “leading Academy awards.”
Will the Avengers Assemble an Award?
If you ask the critically acclaimed Russo Brothers, “Yes.”
The focus of their Oscar push is the man who started it all for Marvel — Robert Downey, Jr. The once hard-luck actor came to a crossroads in 1996 when he was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded .357. A month later, that was followed by another arrest for trespassing when a loaded RDJ fell asleep on a neighbor’s bed.
The guy grew up around drugs, rumored to spoke pot from a joint his dad gave him. When he was six. He needed a few more things than bananas to get this particular monkey off his back. In fact, it took seven years when, in 2003, Mel Gibson personally underwrote Downey’s liability insurance so he was able to star in The Singing Detective.
Five years later, Jon Favreau played matchmaker in the most indelible fashion — casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man. More than 11 years later, Anthony and Joe Russo, believe he should be considered for a leading Academy Award and completing his own character arc.
Best Cumulative Academy Award?
Back to the Russos: During a press junket in Washington D.C., Joe was pretty effusive about his feels concerning Robert Downey Jr.:
His cumulative body of work from these movies is staggering, If you look at the work over just even the last four [Marvel] films he’s done, it’s phenomenal. . . . He deserves an Oscar perhaps more than anyone in the last 40 years because of the way that he has motivated popular culture .
Motivated pop culture? Yes. Inspired nerd culture? Without question. But does any of that matter to Oscar? Meh.
RDJ goes from making us all crack up with his cavalier attitude and rapid-fire quips to making many of us cry to a very emotional and emphatic plea for a full life. It seems the endgame in question was his as well.
Did you know 17 Oscar-nominated and -winning actors have been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including RDJ for his controversial blackface role in Tropic Thunder)? It’s true, but none of them have won an Oscar while in the MCU?
And now, Robert Downey, Jr. should buck that trend? That’s the thing: “Cumulative work” equals the honorary Oscar — the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. For a guy who has starred in B (plus) movies like Johnny B. Goode, Back to School, and Weird Science, not many achievements. Then came Chaplin, The Soloist, Zodiac, and the aforementioned Tropic Thunder. Maybe Joe’s right?
Maybe it is time for a Marvelous Academy Award?
Think about some of the longest active roles in TV and motion picture history. Peter Falk was ‘Columbo’ for 35 years. William Shatner was Captain James T. Kirk over a span of 33 years. Sam Waterston was ‘Jack McCoy’ in Law & Order for 24 years. Kelsey Grammar was ‘Frasier Crane’ for 20 years straight. Robert Downey Jr. has been Tony Stark for 11 years, so far.
That is a considerable amount of time to figure out the nuances of any character. He began as a megalomaniac genius billionaire playboy and ended up as an introspective and daring partner and father. That trek made Tony Stark more than visible to millions around the world; he was believable as well.
If you consider some of the most charismatic and memorable leading roles in film, “believable” is among the superlatives describing the role.
Was Marlon Brando believable as Vito Corleone? Daniel Day-Lewis believable as Abraham Lincoln? Denzel Washington believable as Detective Alonzo Harris? All a resounding “Yes.” All were proudly given a leading Academy Award.
The only difference between those men and Robert Downey, Jr. is they didn’t have Disney backing a multi-month campaign for serious award consideration.
Heath Ledger is the only actor to win an Academy Award for a role in a comic book movie. Cynics believe his unfortunate death created the discussion and bringing him the posthumous Oscar. If RDJ is going to win, he’ll need a lot of help, but it is plausible.
Sure, later this year, Oscar front runners will solidify the best actor slots. People like DeNiro (The Irishman) and DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) are sure to be there. Others like Egerton (Rocketman), Chalamet (Little Women), and Oldman (The Laundromat) will too.
But, perhaps in 2020, an old–and often despised–adage will have some truth to it. You know, thanks to the Mouse and his marketing magic…
Maybe, it really is an honor just to be nominated? More than believability, Robert Downey, Jr’s performance in Avengers: Endgame will provide credibility. And that nomination would definitely be an honor, for him and for us all.
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