‘Iron Man’’s Robert Downey Jr. No Longer a Liberal

Robert Downey Jr. may be the actor least likely thought of to play a comic book superhero.

But the critics and public love Downey in Marvel’s latest big-screen spectacular, “Iron Man.”

“Iron Man” is the first film to be produced by Marvel Studios, although it is distributed by Paramount. Marvel is now financing its own flicks after an impressive track record of blockbusters like “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four” and sequels.

Meanwhile, during a recent interview with the New York Times, Downey disclosed a change he experienced in his worldview as a result of his troubled past.

The veteran actor noted that his newfound politics would not necessarily be well received by his Hollywood friends.

“I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here,” Downey said.

“But you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics every since,” he added.

The New York Times commented on Downey’s educational experience in this way: “Suffice it to say he is not one of the Hollywood types who weeps over innocents trapped behind bars.”

The effects of Downey’s new views are obvious—he’s happily married, a father to teenage kids and far distance away from the struggles he had to endure.

He explained, “If I see somebody who is throwing their life away with both hands and is raging around and destroying their family, I can’t understand that person.”

“I’m not in that sphere of activity anymore, and I don’t understand it any more than I understood 10 or 20 years ago that somehow everything was going to turn out O.K. from this lousy, exotic and dark triple chapter of my life. I swear to God I don’t even really understand that planet anymore,” he shared.

Things on Downey’s new planet turned out really okay. “Iron Man” looks to be the start of a Downey franchise. The movie had the second best opening weekend ever for a film that’s not a sequel, with over $100 million being brought in on the domestic front and another $97 million from overseas ticket sales.

In Variety’s review, “Iron Man” was contrasted with previous anti-war flops: “Finally, someone's found a sure-fire way to make money with a modern Middle East war movie: Just send a Marvel superhero into the fray to kick some insurgent butt.”

James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.

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