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The 5 Best Films of Robert Downey Jr.’s Career

The 5 Best Films of Robert Downey Jr.’s Career

robert downey jr iron man

Robert Downey Jr. photo from Iron Man

The career of Robert Downey Jr. has been a roller coaster to say the least, but now he’s one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. It’s easy to forget that Downey has been a major force in Hollywood since the 1980s and boasts an impressive body of work that far exceeds his modern day roles as an action star. Here are the best movies that he’s been apart of.

Less Than Zero

This ’80s cult-classic is based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name. Ellis is perhaps best known for his book, “American Psycho,” and “Less Than Zero” shares much of the same nihilistic tone, albeit with less murder and a heavier focus on youth and debauchery. Downey’s performance as Julian, a drug-addicted boy from a wealthy family, was praised by critics and helped signal his arrival as one of the hottest young talents in Hollywood. The actor went on to describe the role as “like the ghost of Christmas future” for how it would come to mirror his own substance abuse problems later in his career.

Photo of Robert Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero

Photo of Robert Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero

Short Cuts

This lesser-known Robert Altman film features Downey as one of many in a gigantic ensemble cast. While not necessarily a vehicle for the actor specifically, it’s one of the best movies he’s ever been in. “Short Cuts” is a massive film based on the short stories of American literary legend Raymond Carver, and it covers what seems like the entire spectrum of the human condition with a cast that features (*deep breath*) Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Andie MacDowell, Chris Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, Frances McDormand, Tom Waits, Lily Tomlin and more.

Robert Downey Jr Photo from Short Cuts

Robert Downey Jr Photo from Short Cuts

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

This film not only began Downey’s return to power but Shane Black’s as well. The small, neo-noir thriller was written and directed by the “Lethal Weapon” scribe, and helped breathe new life into the careers of Downey, Black and Val Kilmer. The movie follows a small time crook (Downey) who accidentally gets roped into a movie part where he meets a private investigator (Kilmer), and the two end up knee deep in a murder case as hijinks ensue. The movie was a perfect send-up of the hardboiled detective genre chock full of whip-smart dialog that will keep you laughing the whole way through. While the film might have barely made back its budget at the box office, it was a critical darling that reportedly ended up attracting the attention of Jon Favreau, who thought Downey might be a fit for a little superhero movie he was working on.

If “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” helped give Downey a boost, then “Iron Man” was what really shot him back into superstardom. The role of Tony Stark was perfect for RDJ. An egocentric and brilliant man plagued by substance abuse problems plays an egocentric and brilliant superhero with substance abuse problems while also fighting crime in a a robotic suit. Since taking the role, Stark has become the focal point of the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe. And thanks to Marvel, Downey has become a household staple in more than just movies. “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” have brought the actor’s likeness to video games as well. Both movies are included among the selection of popular slot games available online where the biggest heroes are headliners in classic casino games designed for casual audiences. Downey can be seen as Stark once again in this summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

Robert Downey Jr in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Robert Downey Jr in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Iron Man

If “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” helped give Downey a boost, then “Iron Man” was what really shot him back into superstardom. The role of Tony Stark was perfect for RDJ. An egocentric and brilliant man plagued by substance abuse problems plays an egocentric and brilliant superhero with substance abuse problems while also fighting crime in a a robotic suit. Since taking the role, Stark has become the focal point of the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe. And thanks to Marvel, Downey has become a household staple in more than just movies. “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” have brought the actor’s likeness to video games as well. Both movies are included among the selection of popular slot games available online where the biggest heroes are headliners in classic casino games designed for casual audiences. Downey can be seen as Stark once again in this summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

Iron Man Robert Downey Jr Photo

Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man Photo


A Scanner Darkly

This is more of a modern cult classic, but Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in “A Scanner Darkly” is more than deserving of praise. This was another pre-Iron Man film that showed Downey’s star was on the rise once again thanks to his supporting performance as James Barris, the roommate of Keanu Reeves’ lead, Bob Arctor. Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel is visually stunning with its use of rotoscoped animation over live action actors, and Downey manages to stand out in a cast that also includes strong turns from Reeves, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder. While it might have failed to make much money, “A Scanner Darkly” remains one of the best sci-fi movies of the 21st century.

Robert Downey Jr Photo from A Scanner Darkly

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Husband, father, movie+review advocate, BAMF, hair icon, pantsuits are for losers. Posts from Jeff signed -J all others by merciless robots.

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