Shortly after the release of Avengers: Endgame, co-director Joe Russo told the Washington Post that Robert Downey Jr. “deserves an Oscar perhaps more than anyone in the last 40 years.” And going by the filmmaker’s more recent comments to Backstory Magazine, it sounds like the Russo brother is sticking to his guns.
In particular, Russo singled out Downey’s performance in the scene where Doctor Strange signals to Iron Man that they’re in the one predicted future where Thanos is defeated:
“What’s so incredible about Robert Downey and his performance — and we think this is an awards-caliber performance — is when he looks at Benedict [Cumberbatch] in that moment, what you see happen on his face and the way he just drops his eyes and receives the information, it’s because he knows he’s the solution and the solution involves snapping his fingers — he’s going to die. The thing he wanted to preserve two hours earlier in the movie is his relationship with his daughter, and he will have to sacrifice that in order to save everyone else.”
Russo later stressed that the wordless exchange between Tony Stark and Stephen Strange was informed by a lot of MCU history:
“Tony’s a futurist in a lot of ways who’s fated to die from the beginning because he’s so consistently aware of the threat always coming and he cannot rest until that threat has been defeated. That’s really the conversation Pepper has with him in their living room when he’s talking about going on the time heist. He asks if he should just throw this discovery in the bottom of the lake and she says, ‘Yeah, but could you rest?’ And he couldn’t, that’s the truth of it. So, yes, when he gets to that moment, it’s supported by a lot of different beats.”
While it goes without saying that the co-director of Endgame is hardly an impartial source on the matter, Joe Russo is far from the only one who’s called for Downey to receive some awards recognition.
In the days following the film’s release, for instance, social media flooded with messages from fans arguing that the original MCU star deserves an Oscar for his final performance as Iron Man. What’s more, executive producer and Happy Hogan actor Jon Favreau told Variety earlier this year that Downey has his vote for an Academy Award, arguing that there was “a really thoughtful arc” to the character’s journey.
That being said, an Oscar nod still feels like a bit of a long-shot for the star, especially given the Academy’s tendency to overlook the superhero genre in the acting categories. If, however, you’d care to take another look at Downey’s performance, you can catch Avengers: Endgame on Digital right now, and on Blu-Ray from August 13th.