Now, there aren't too many subjects which I wouldn't be happy to listen to Robert Downey Jr. talk about at length - after all, he's Iron Man - but when he gets going about the nature of his role in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War? Well, then I'm not just paying attention, I'm buying it wholesale.
After all, Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is seemingly set to undergo a pretty serious transformation between now and the start of Civil War - moving from the perma-quipping icon of liberalism he's been in the past to a staunch advocate of a much more conservative, superhero-constraining ideology.
So, when he recently spoke to Empire about the imminent change his character was set to go through - and the implications for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - suffice to say it made for seriously intriguing reading for any Marvel fan.
After all, according to RDJ:
Tony Stark Changes His Position Because of Real World Events
As he puts it, while discussing the 'recalibration' of Stark's views...
"...it’s natural to change your views. The main thing to me is, and this is where I think the Russos are quite brilliant and where Kevin backed the play, is what sort of incident could occur and what sort of framework could we find Tony in? The clues are in Ultron about where we might find him next. But what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he’s stood for, quote-unquote, because he was the right-wing guy who could still do his own thing."
Well, as RDJ suggests, what it would in fact take is a fundamental change to the real world in which the movies are being made...
"When the first Iron Man came out the liberals and conservatives were both like, ‘You’re our guy’. Yes! Score! But the idea of Tony being able to march into Washington and say, ‘I’ll sign up’, wouldn’t have made sense if the political climate in the real world hadn’t shifted the way it has. It’s a little bit of things following a real world continuum in, ‘What would you do?’"
Sadly, RDJ didn't elaborate further on just which changes in the real world he was referring to - though each of us will I'm sure have our own guess - but what he did point out is that...
There Might Be an International Superhero Problem
As he puts it:
"There’s always the bigger overarching question, that Joss brings up all the time - it’s kind of weird that these guys would have all these throw downs all over planet Earth and it looked like a little collateral damage happened over there, and yet when the movie’s over, it’s like nobody minds. You have to figure, ‘Were you to ask the question, what would the American government do if this were real? Wouldn't it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn't imagine?’"
Which very much makes it seem that Avengers: Age of Ultron, and certainly Captain America: Civil War, will see the world begin to turn away from having all that much faith in its superheroes.
If Tony Stark is set to take the side of the government against his friends, though...
Does That Make Iron Man the Movie's Villain?
After all, he seems set to betray his friends in favor of a shadowy set of government regulations. Now, to one whole half of the political spectrum, that may well make him seem pretty villainous - and even if you agree with his ultimate decision, the fact that he's going to have to battle Captain freakin' America as a result of it sure does make him seem like something less than a hero.
And, intriguingly, even RDJ seems to be aware that Stark is going to be far from a hero in the movie. Asked whether or not he'll be playing a villain, his response was...intentionally vague:
"I wouldn't put it that way. Ultimately it’s Steve’s story; it doesn't say ‘Iron Man 4: Civil War.’ I think that’s great too. I think Chris [Evans] has been hungry to bring even more of an underside and some shadow to that. I remember the comics - on the surface you got the sense that Cap was baseball and apple pie, but underneath there was all this churning stuff of being a man out of time. Now we know he’s made his peace with that. What’s the bigger issue? It can have a little something to do with the past, but it can be about someone becoming more modernized in their own conflict."
Which, a) suggests that RDJ is well aware that this version of Tony Stark could be seen by some as villainous, as well as b) suggesting that both Cap and Tony will be taking on roles within the movie that are less clear-cut in their heroic nature.
So. Just Like the Comics, Then...
...in which both Cap and Iron Man find themselves having to betray a whole lot of their principles as part of a war they didn't even want to fight.
Does this mean we're set to see a whole lot of moral complexity on our screens come May 2016, when Captain America: Civil War arrives?
What do you think, though? Will Tony Stark be the villain in Captain America: Civil War? How'll all of that moral complexity play out on screen? And which side will our favorite heroes be on in all of this?