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Robert Downey Junior is anything but ‘extraordinary’ even in these ‘Basic Plot Lines’


September 27, 2021

7 min


Robert Downey Junior has been most known for playing Tony Stark in Iron Man and Avengers Series and Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Holmes Series. But his acting skills excels in all genre of movies

There are only 7 basic plots in storytelling, as argued by Christopher Booker in his obviously titled book, “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories”. And yet our favourite film stars take those 7 basic plots to the seventh heaven by their acting. It took Mr Booker 34 years to come up with this theory. This time we will analyze the more than 3 decades of the acting career of the beloved Hollywood Superstar, Robert Downey Junior to check how many of these basic plots have been made special by the charm and acting prowess of one of the highest-paid actors of Hollywood. 

Some of these basic plot types are entire movies in themselves while some form a part of the entire movie. A mini plot so to speak. The discussion of these plots will definitely involve spoilers. Robert Downey Junior has been most known for playing Tony Stark in Iron Man and Avengers Series and Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Holmes Series. We will be using these well-known movies with one or two exceptions.

1. Basic Plot Type 1, The Rag to Riches plot

It might seem incongruent with the present image of Robert Downey Junior, but in some plot portions of the Iron Man 3, RDJ does end up playing the Rag to Riches plotline. When flung far away from his home and all the latest gadgets, RDJ as Tony Stark escapes an attack in Rural Tennessee and rebuilds the Iron Man suit. 

In that respect, the Iron Man series is like the 3Rs, From Riches to Rags to Riches. And yet we root for this charismatic Casanova, all because of Rober Downey Junior’s acting. We are invested in the character he plays.

2. Basic Plot Type 2, The Quest

The plot for the Iron Man series involving Palladium Poisoning and the discovery of a new element can be chosen as a good example of the quest. But the biggest quest that every Marvel hero including Tony Stark went for was a way to save themselves, their loved ones, and everyone on planet earth from a new enemy each week.

The quest fuels our protagonists and propels the movies forward. Fulfillment of the quest is the fulfillment of the viewer.

3. Basic Plot Type 3, Overcoming the Monster

Tony Stark needs to overcome the shadow of his failed relationship with his father from overshadowing every other relationship in his life. Julian Wells, the character in Less than Zero needs to overcome drug addiction. Tony Stark succeeds. Julian fails.

The Monster in the above points is emotional. But they can be physical as in the Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Avengers Series. The victory of good over evil is what overcoming the monster means in the traditional sense.

4. Basic Plot Type 4, Voyage and Return

The arc in Iron Man 1 sees Tony Stark going to Afghanistan to sell weapons as a cocky rich businessman. But the life and death experience turns him into Iron Man. He returns to his old home with new insight into life and purpose. The journey of every character brings new knowledge, growth, and insight. The character development is a result of the journey. Although it doesn’t always have to be a physical change of location.

5. Basic Plot Type 5, Comedy

 Probably one of the most phenomenal yet underrated movies of Robert Downey Junior, Tropical Thunder, sees the actor in a meta role as an Australian Method actor named Kirk Lazarus who has undergone pigmentation processes to portray a person of colour. He refuses to break character for the entire duration of the movie, bringing with it new hijinks and serious laughter. Something that could be controversial turned out wonderful thanks to RDJ. The absurdity of the situation is the truest essence of comedy, not just a happy ending.

6. Basic Plot Type 6, Tragedy

In the 1987 movie, Less than Zero, Robert Downey Junior for the first time plays the character of a rich jerk, Julian Wells. However, unlike Tony Stark or Even RDJ in real life, Julian Wells continues to spiral down into his tragic life fuelled by decadence and drug addiction.

As viewers, we grieve for the lost opportunity and failed potential. And it all depends on how much we sympathize with the character

7. Basic Plot Type 7, Rebirth

Sherlock Holmes, the fictional character and the one played by Robert Downey Junior in the movie, Game of Shadows both undergo death and rebirth. 

Even in the Iron Man franchise, the short life span of Tony Stark and the arc reactor giving him a new life is a constant theme. And although in Avengers Final installment, we see no rebirth, the foreknowledge of his fate makes Tony Stark experience a new rebirth.

As an actor, Robert Downey Junior might very well be caged by the Marvel fame. His brilliance in acting shines even there. Here’s to many more wonderful years for Robert Downey Junior.

Also Read: Marvel files five lawsuits to block copyrights from creators of Spider-Man, Iron Man

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