If there are two certainties in Hollywood, one is that nobody's perfect and another is that people love comeback stories. After years of drugs, rehab stints and even a little jail time, Robert Downey Jr. became the biggest - and one of the most beloved - movie stars in the world. Arguably this should have happened years before, sometime shortly after the actor earned an Oscar nomination for Chaplin in the early '90s.
The reason for Robert Downey Jr.'s comeback success? His talent speaks for itself and while his role in Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang certainly earned RDJ respect on his return tour, it was director Jon Favreau and the decision-makers at young Marvel Studios in 2007 that put the actor back on the map when casting him as Tony Stark in their first self-financed production, Iron Man. After a second Oscar nomination and starring in three of the top five grossing movies of all-time, Robert Downey Jr. wants to re-pay some of the debt for the support he received during his hard times.
A key to RDJ's recovery was his support group, namely his wife Susan Downey, and his friends in Hollywood. Two of those friends, Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, were present in 2011 when Robert Downey Jr. received the prestigious American Cinematheque Award, an honor presented annually to "an extraordinary artist currently making a significant contribution to the art of the Moving Picture." Now, RDJ wants to return the favor and have Gibson and Foster join the Marvel Cinematic Universe with appearances in The Avengers: Age of Ultron or its untitled followup, the last two films on his extended contract.
The news broke on New Year's day from Radar Online who claim to have a source revealing Robert Downey Jr.'s latest attempts to bring some of his best friends into the Marvel family much like he did in helping pick Shane Black to direct Iron Man 3 and getting a role in it for his pal Ashley Hamilton. Gibson halted his career when infamously arrested in 2006 for driving under the influence and following the act with that famous anti-Semitic rant - words that the source believes practically demolish any chance of Marvel's high-ups giving any thought to having Mel Gibson show up in a Marvel Studios production.
Jodie Foster is an easier sell and popped up in one of this summer's biggest sci-fi productions with a key role in Elysium. As for Gibson, he had big part in 2013's Machete Kills when director Robert Rodriguez cast him, and Sylvester Stallone is similarly giving the actor (and Oscar-winning director) an opportunity with a role in The Expendables 3 - one of Screen Rant's most anticipated movies in 2014. With rival studios Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Pictures making major franchise announcements in recent weeks, Marvel Studios' otherwise high profile casting confirmations of Vin Diesel, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson partly got lost in the shuffle, especially with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment dominating headlines as of late with rumors of Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson all potentially having roles in Batman vs. Superman.
Perhaps to compete in the war for marketing buzz with names and talent listed above, bringing in veteran talents including Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson could be legitimately appealing for Marvel Studios, who aren't shy in giving talent with troubled pasts a chance, like Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke. What roles could they possible play in The Avengers 2 or 3 if that's what RDJ is gunning for? According to Radar Online's source, Downey Jr. tried to land Mel Gibson a role as the President in Iron Man 3 but Marvel wasn't interested. Maybe they didn't see Air America (a film starring RDJ and Gibson)?
Two things we can say for sure are that Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson are close friends with Robert Downey Jr. and that RDJ fights for his people - something several reports had him doing during contract negotiations for stars of The Avengers who apparently rallied behind him as a leader of sorts. Here's what RDJ said to a cheering crowd about Mel Gibson - the surprise guest he chose to present the award - when the pair were on stage in 2011 for his acceptance of The American Cinematheque Award:
"Unless you are without sin – and if you are, you are in the wrong fucking industry, you should forgive him and let him work."
And he later continued:
"This is my fuckin’ time. Mel and I have the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. I couldn’t get hired and he cast me. He said if I accepted responsibility – he called it hugging the cactus – long enough, my life would take meaning. And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to assume the next guy would be him."
What do you think? Should Marvel Studios consider Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster for roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and if so, what characters could/should they play?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!