Iron Man is arguably the most important superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because his inaugural movie kicked off the now 15-year wildly popular film franchise. Interestingly enough, Robert Downey Jr, the actor whose name is now synonymous with Tony Stark and Iron Man, doesn’t consider the 2008 hit or even the fan-favorite and box office-smash Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) as important to him. In fact, he holds his 2006 The Shaggy Dog and his 2020 flop Dolittle in higher regard.
Robert Downey Jr discussed his career with The New York Times Magazine and called Disney’s The Shaggy Dog and Universal’s Dolittle “the two the most important films” of the past 25 years of his career. Keep in mind, the past 25 years of Downey Jr’s career include all of his Marvel movies, Tropic Thunder (2008), the Sherlock Holmes films, The Judge (2014), and more. He also is in Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated Oppenheimer, which premieres in theaters this month.
Downey Jr has definitely starred in some heavy hitters, so what’s with his fondness for two comparatively lower-stakes movies? It turns out that The Shaggy Dog was actually quite high stakes for Robert Downey Jr and his career. Tim Allen, the lead in the film, is turned into a dog because of laboratory animal experimentation Downey Jr’s character is conducting. It’s a lighthearted, silly family film.
Robert Downey Jr marks this as the film that brought his career back from scandal in his personal life. He says, “That was the film that got Disney saying they would insure me,” after he was arrested in 1996 for heroin and cocaine possession, as well as an unloaded gun. Major studios wouldn’t hire him out of liability and image. But Disney revitalized his career.
As for Universal Pictures’ bomb, Dolittle, Downey Jr values this one because of its failure. After producing the talking animal picture with his wife, they shifted their priorities and business circle. Dolittle’s flop led him to film the acclaimed Netflix Documentary Sr. (2022) about his father and the last days of his life. It was a personal and professional success for him.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is something Robert Downey Jr refers to as “content” – something people “could have chosen to click on and watch or not.”