5 lesser-known Robert Downey Jr movies outside of MCU

Robert Downey Jr broke many hearts when his character died in Avengers: Endgame (2019). While he is primarily known for playing Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, picturing any other actor in that role is almost unimaginable for Marvel fans. Besides starring in the Iron Man and Avengers movies, the actor has also played the role of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.

However, the career of Robert Downey Jr cannot just be defined by these two popular characters. The actor turned 58 years old a couple of days ago, and his career is far from being over. While he has delivered many stellar performances throughout his career, the other roles don’t get as much attention as they deserve.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the author’s opinions.

Zodiac, The Judge, and 3 other lesser-known Robert Downey Jr movies that showcases his versatility as an actor

1) A Scanner Darkly (2006)

A Scanner Darkly is a cinematic gem directed by the genius director Richard Linklater, who is known for Boyhood and the Before film trilogy. This animated psychological sci-fi thriller movie is an adaptation of one of author Philip K. Dick’s best works. The story follows a narcotics cop who turns into a drug addict when he undertakes an undercover operation in a futuristic society.

The film’s rotoscopic animation technique and Downey’s acting prowess perfectly complemented each other, with the actor delivering a brilliant performance alongside Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder, among others.

2) Due Date (2010)

This comedic flick from director Todd Phillips, who is best known for directing Joker and the Hangover trilogy, got mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Despite the reviews, many viewers enjoyed the performances of Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis, whose contrasting characters provided a hilarious commentary.

The movie is about an anxious father-to-be (Robert Downey Jr) who needs to make it in time for his child’s birth and is forced to go on a road trip with an aspiring actor (Zach Galifianakis) and his dog. Downey’s performance as a wealthy, uptight architect in Due Date echoes Tony Stark’s character, which delivers a nostalgic taste for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

3) Zodiac (2007)


Zodiac is arguably one of the best true crime mystery thriller movies by David Fincher. The academy award nominee is known for cult classics like Fight Club and Seven, and Zodiac is one of the many notable jewels in his crown.

The movie is about a San Francisco-based political cartoonist, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), who becomes obsessed with tracking down the infamous zodiac killer from the early 60s and 80s. Robert Downey Jr plays the character of Paul Avery, a reporter working for the San Francisco Chronicle who was initially skeptical of Graysmith’s ability to decipher the coded message by the killer. However, he puts his faith in the cartoonist and starts collaborating with him.

Just like Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr owns the character of Paul Avery as he portrays an intuitive reporter who becomes a victim of paranoia and addiction that eventually leads to his fallout from the newspaper. However, the role proved to be quite challenging for Robert Downey Jr as his improvisational acting style reportedly conflicted with that of Fincher’s perfectionist directorial approach.

4) The Judge (2014)

Although this heartfelt American legal drama film received mixed reviews from critics, viewers were pleased with the performance of Robert Downey Jr as a successful but dubious lawyer named Hank Palmer.

The movie follows Hank as he returns to his hometown after learning of his mother’s passing. However, Hank’s arrival leads to a resurgence of hostility between him and his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall), who disapproves of his son’s areer. As Hank decides to leave town, his father is taken into custody for a hit-and-run death. Despite the aggrieved old man’s protests, Hank steps forward to defend his father.

Despite its ratings, Robert Downey Jr’s role as Hank is commendable. The movie is one of the few hidden tearjerkers on Netflix that genuinely portrays the complicated father-son relationship of the two characters.

5) Bowfinger (1999)

This satirical comedy is known among film buffs and was also remade in Bollywood in 2009. Despite having few scenes in the film, Robert Downey Jr delivers a remarkable performance as Jerry Renfro, a young Hollywood studio executive who sets a struggling director’s (Steve Martin) plan in motion to make a low-budget film with a star (Eddie Murphy) who is unaware that he is in the movie.

Downey fans who wish to see the actor during his early days will surely have a hearty laugh while watching this comedic gem.

Robert Downey Jr has had quite an exceptional career spanning decades, and he’s not planning to step down anytime soon. The actor is now set to star in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film Oppenheimer, where he will play the role of Lewis Strauss alongside Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy. The actor will also be seen in HBO’s upcoming drama series titled The Sympathizer.