Opinion: Expecting too much from famous actors diminishes the film experience

Those disappointed in Robert Downey Jr.’s Dr. Dolittle should separate the man from Iron Man.



UNIVERSAL CITY, CA –JANUARY 08, 2020—Robert Downey, Jr. and wife Susan are photographed during a day of promotion for their new film, "Dr. Doolittle," which he stars in and she produced, on a soundstage, on the Universal Studios backlot in Universal City, CA,Jan 08, 2020. This is Downey's first film roll post-Avengers.

Angela Stansbery, Columnist

Some stories on the big screen are so iconic that actors playing idolized roles fuses with the character itself.

Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter comes to mind first. Taylor Lautner is forever tied to Jacob Black. And Jennifer Lawrence always still looks a little like Katniss Everdeen in every role she’s in.

When audiences see these celebrities as only a single, instantly recognizable character, it harms the movie as a whole. They expect to see them in one role and feel let down when they are playing someone different. Viewers then are overcritical because of the devotion they have for the actor’s previous role.

Robert Downey Jr. is most famously known as Iron Man. Upon finishing his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he starred in Dolittle, which got 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. His performance was seen as a failure by both critics and moviegoers.

However, it is not the fault of Downey Jr. but that of viewers. Marvel fans are used to seeing him in an Iron Man suit, and when they see him portraying a different role, they are disoriented. This then carries to the film itself and tarnishes its entire image.

If another actor who wasn’t put into a character box played the role, the movie might have been more successful. Without the association of the lead’s acting history, it could shine.

If another actor who wasn’t put into a character box played the role, the movie might have been more successful.

The audience’s love for iconic characters is also harmful for the industry in general. Those who have a strong devotion for Downey Jr.’s role reject other roles he plays because of their love for his previous character. Moviegoers pick apart every little thing because they come into theaters with the stance that anything other than the previous role won’t be as good.

Fans are almost hoping for the movie to fail to prove that the star was best in their previous role. 

It’s a form of nostalgia, as if they’re trying to prevent their favorite actor from moving forward. By putting them in these boxes though, it ruins movies that could have been seen positively.

It’s not just Downey Jr. who faces ridicule following his most iconic role. The aforementioned Lautner starred in Abduction following his success in Twilight. The new film flopped, getting a 5 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Even in rare cases of successful post-franchise roles — such as Chris Evans in Knives Out — the Downey Jr. scenario is far more common.

When audiences put their favorite stars into boxes, it ruins every succeeding movie. 

These expectations not only hurt the actor in their career but perfectly good movies as well.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.