In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the multiverse is imminent, this is where it’s all heading now that the OG Avengers have pretty much wrapped up their storylines and their leader, Tony Stark Iron Man, is no more. He may not have been the “leader” on the battlefield but without the success of Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr, the MCU would not be what it is today – this is not debatable. The first Iron Man movie made everything else possible.
Post-Avengers, RDJ has taken his time deciding on what’s next. His decision was announced this week, and there’s a “multi” aspect to this as well. RDJ, like so many major movie stars, is finally coming to television. He will star in and co-produce the series adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Sympathizer about “the struggles of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War and his resulting exile in the United States” . They’re still looking to cast the series lead, so RDJ's roles will be supporting. I say “roles” because, per Deadline, “he is set to play multiple supporting roles as the main antagonists — all of whom represent a different arm of the American establishment including an up-and-coming Orange County congressman, a CIA agent and a Hollywood film director, among others”.
So in Loki-speak, it’s RDJ and his version of “variants”.
RDJ aside though, what’s most interesting to me about this series is the collective. Park Chan-wook is the co-showrunner along with Don McKellar, and in addition to the lead character, the ensemble characters are Vietnamese. So RDJ and Team Downey, his production company, are putting their considerable power behind a project that will feature people from a culture that’s been largely underrepresented in mainstream storytelling.
Of course, even though RDJ’s character or characters are the villains, in these situations there’s always the risk of white saviourism and, for sure, it’s important to be mindful of the possibility. But right now, if we’re talking about accumulated capital, and using that capital to create space, there are definitely positives to take away.
Here’s RDJ yesterday in LA after lunch with friends in an outfit that…well…I don’t think a lot of people can co-sign. I will defend the pants though. Because those are brown wide leg sweatpants, all good, so the problem isn’t down below, it’s the weird jacket.