For the remainder of his career and life, Robert Downey Jr. is going to be remembered as Iron Man, but there are many other movies by him that are worth watching as well. TechTrends made a list of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time.
Despite being in the movie industry since 1970, Robert Downey Jr.’s career took off when he performed the genius, billionaire, and philanthropist named Tony Stark in Iron Man. Spoiler alert, although his time in MCU might be over, he is still one of the most well-known actors in Iron Man and Marvel’s Avengers movies. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that anyone would be able to compete with his portrayal of the character Stark. Those who loved him in those movies should also know that he performs impressively in other movies as well. He made his debut appearance in his father’s movie when he was five years old. His career has since seen some ups and down, and between 1996 and 2001, there was a break for him as he got arrested for drug-related charges.
However, he returned stronger than ever and proved once again how much talent he has. Many considered his role as Iron Man to be his comeback, but he was already doing some small-scale performances in movies like Zodiac, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and more. Therefore, TechTrends made a list of the best must see Robert Downey Jr. performances. Let’s dive into the list.
Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies of All Time
While many mostly know him for his notable performances as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr.’s career is more versatile than just featuring as a genius billionaire. So, TechTrends put together a list of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time. Here are his greatest performances, listed in reverse chronological order.
Chances Are 1989
- Genre: Fantasy/Romance
- Director: Emile Ardolino
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Cybill Shepherd, Ryan O’Neal, Mary Stuart Masterson, Christopher McDonald
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 67%, IMDb 6.4
Chances Are is one of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time, in which he plays the role of Alex. The story starts when the amazing marriage of Corinne and Louie comes to an end in a tragic incident when Loui dies in a car crash. This happened only a few days after learning that his wife is pregnant. Following arguments with authorities that Corinne, his wife, needs him, he is given a chance to return to earth but not as Louie.
He comes to life as Alex Finch and keeps living his life, not remembering his former life when Corinne raises their daughter all by herself. However, Louie/Alex is brought back to Corrine’s life by fate after 23 years. He meets and dates Miranda Jeffries, played by Mary Stuart Masterson, who is his grown-up daughter from his former life. Then, all the memories come rushing back, and he remembers his love for Corinne. This creates trouble for his past-life friend, Philip Train, portrayed by Ryan O’Neal, who is trying to get Corinne to go out with him.
Downey’s performance is magnificent, and the other cast’s displays also make it a great movie that you don’t want to miss. Despite receiving great reviews from critics, especially for the performance of Downey Jr., it failed to be a success at the box office.
- Genre: Drama/Comedy
- Director: Richard Attenborough
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Kline, Milla Jovovich
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 60%, IMDb 7.5
Another one of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies ever is Chaplin which came during a time that appeared to be the peak of his career. The movie is about a major figure in the media whose personal life comes in the way of his amazing work. In this movie, director Richard Attenborough dramatized influential comedy mastermind Charlie Chaplin in his meteoric rise as the most recognizable name of the silent film era as the director, writer, and star of classics such as The Gold Rush and Modern Times.
Robert Downey Jr. performed stunningly as the film star and earned a lot of praise from critics as well as audiences. Moreover, he received his first Academy Award nomination.
Read more: Best Johnny Depp Movies of All Time
Short Cuts 1993
- Genre: Drama/Indie film
- Director: Robert Altman
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Julianne Moore, Jack Lemmon, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Frances McDormand
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 7.7
Short Cuts is another one of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time from Robert Altman. The movie is based on Raymond Carver’s short story and it tests the lives of some Los Angeles residents that are struggling with work, love, and death. Downey portrays the role of Bill Bush, who is a makeup artist who plays house in the apartment of his neighbor with his wife. When the lives of this group intertwine in hilarious, unexpected, and tragic ways, the director tries to emphasize the random nature of existence.
It was surprising that none of the cast members were recognized at the Oscars, notwithstanding winning a special award of Best Ensemble at the Golden Globes. However, Altman was nominated for Best Director but lost to Steven Spielberg.
Read more: Best Tom Cruise Movies of All Time
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2005
- Genre: Crime/Mystery
- Director: Shane Black
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Indio Falconer Downey, Angela Lindvall
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 86%, IMDb 7.5
In the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey Jr. plays the role of Harry Lockhart, who is a winnable actor. He moves to Los Angeles from New York and begins taking private eye lessons from a gay detective Gay Perry, played by Val Kilmer. The movie keeps twisting and turning inside itself, so complex that the director is left scratching his head. At a party, he meets an old flame, played by Michelle Monaghan.
Despite not doing well at the box office, only making its budget, it was a great opportunity for the actor and director Shane Black to meet. The director had an instrumental part in getting Downey Jr. the role of his life in Iron Man, according to reports from The Hollywood Reporter.
- Genre: Mystery
- Director: David Fincher
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Chloë Sevigny, John Carroll Lynch, Brian Cox, Dermot Mulroney
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 89%, IMDb 7.7
One of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time is Zodiac, directed by David Fincher. The movie tells the story of fear pervading San Francisco in the 1960s and early 1970s when a serial killer named Zodiac was terrorizing the people in the city. Investigators and journalists became dedicated to find out who this murderer is and bring him to punishment. While they are doing that, Zodiac keeps taking victims, tormenting police with messages and clothes soaked with blood as well as newspaper ciphers.
Robert Downey Jr. plays the role of Paul Avery, who is a real-life journalist of the same name. When he gets a letter that threatens his life, he becomes paranoid and starts taking drugs and alcohol to an addiction level. Moreover, other MCU star actors like Mark Ruffalo, Hulk, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Mysterio, also feature in the movie. Therefore, it is a rare treat for the fans who really want to watch these actors together but not in an MCU movie.
Read more: Best Leonardo DiCaprio Movies of All Time
Iron Man trilogy 2008, 2010, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Director: Jon Favreau, Shane Black
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Jeff Bridges
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 94%, IMDb 7.9 / Rotten Tomatoes 72%, IMDb 6.9 / Rotten Tomatoes 79%, IMDb 7.1
Iron Man 2008
One of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time is his memorable portrayal of Tony Stark in the movie Iron Man. Tony Stark, who is a wealthy and brilliant engineer, does weapons experiments in Afghanistan, but he is kidnapped by a group of terrorists who ask him to make a lethal weapon. Instead of doing that, he makes an armored suit to be able to escape them. When he comes back, he improves the suit and uses it to fight villains. That is when he becomes known as Iron man.
Iron man 2010
While the world is familiar with Iron Man now, Tony Stark encounters pressure to share what he has with the military. However, he is not willing to do that and give the secrets of his armored suit as it may fall into the wrong hands. Iron Man has Pepper Potts and Rhodey Rhodes, played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle, on his side. However, he has to forge new alliances and go against a new powerful new enemy. Iron Man 2 was another best Robert Downey Jr. films of all time.
Iron Man 2013
While being plagued with insomnia and worry from the time he saved New York from destruction, Tony Stark becomes more dependent on the suits. Therefore, his life is affected by his attachment to the Iron Man persona in a way that his relationship with Pepper faces difficulty. After an enemy called the Mandarin hurts his personal world, Tony should rely on instinct and ingenuity to avenge what he lost and protect the ones he loves. Iron Man 3 was another one of the best Robert Downey Jr. films ever.
Sherlock Holmes 2009
- Genre: Mystery
- Director: Guy Ritchie
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 69%, IMDb 7.6
The movie Sherlock Holmes is set in 1890 when the eccentric detective Holmes and Watson, his partner, are asked to stop a mythicist’s plot of using supernatural means to expand the British Empire. Downey has very amazing chemistry with Law. Moreover, he adds cunning, quick-wit, and scruffy toughness to the character, which makes this one of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time.
For his role in Sherlock Holmes, Downey won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. In addition, he won the IFTA award for Best International Actor. The movie was also a success at the box office, with $62.4 million on its first weekend. In 2011, there was a sequel movie named Sherlock Holmes; A Game of Shadows.
Read more: Best Jennifer Lawrence Movies of All Time
The Avengers 2012
- Genre: Adventure/Action
- Director: Joss Whedon
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Stan Lee, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 69%, IMDb 8
Another one of the greatest and best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time is The Avengers. In this movie, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury, recruits superheroes to try and fight Loki when he gets access to the unlimited power of the energy cube. The Avengers is also one of the best Marvel movies, bringing together the most iconic superheroes.
Downey Jr. plays the character Stark quite effortlessly, with his charm and charisma shining brightly. The movie was quite a success, earning more than $1.5 billion worldwide. Moreover, it got many awards and nominations. There were other sequels released after the first one was very successful.
- Genre: Comedy/Comedy drama
- Director: Jon Favreau
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Sofía Vergara, Dustin Hoffman
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 87%, IMDb 7.3
Chef is also one of the best Robert Downey Jr. films ever, in which he plays the role of Marvin. Chef Carl Casper quits a prominent restaurant after being dissatisfied with the boss. He then goes to Miami, where he joins his ex-wife, a friend, and their son to begin a food-truck business. It is then that he has the chance to enjoy his passion for cooking.
Downey Junior, Marvin, is Carl’s ex-wife’s ex-husband and is the person who offers Carl the food truck. While his role is short, he still had an important one in the plot of the movie and performed amazingly as always.
Read more: Best Angelina Jolie Movies of All Time
Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Director: Joss Whedon
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, James Spader, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 76%, IMDb 7.3
Robert Downey Jr. appeared in the second Avengers movie after the group retrieved Loki’s scepter from a Hydra facility. Then, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner utilize it to complete Ultron global defense program. However, when Ultron understands humans’ wrongdoings, then he turns against them, attacking the Avengers, eliminating Stark’s A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. So, the Avengers have to put an end to a global extinction with superhuman twins, Pietro, and Wanda Maximoff. Age of Ultron is also another one of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of All Time.
Avengers: Infinity War 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Pratt
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 85%, IMDb 8.4
The Avengers’ struggles with Thanos begin in Avengers: Infinity War. Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, Sider-Man, and some of the Guardians began fighting the Mad Titan in his homeworld. In this movie, Iron Man presented his sleeker, and stronger nanotech suit for the first time. Downey performed amazingly in this movie and that is why Avengers: Infinity War is among the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time.
With the help of Peter Parker, Iron Man was able to defeat one of the stronger pawns of Thanos, who kidnapped Dr. Strange. Thanos is believed to be the Avengers’ most powerful enemy yet, who is on the mission to get all six Infinity Stones. He wants to use it to realize his twisted wish.
Read more: Best Brad Pitt Movies of All Time
Avengers: Endgame 2019
- Genre: Action/Sci-fi
- Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Brie Larson, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Pratt
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 94%, IMDb 8.4
The movie Avengers: Endgame starts with Iron Man in space for three weeks after Thanos’ Snap wiped out half the universe’s population. However, they get saved by Captain Marvel later in the movie. The rest of the Avengers, on the other hand, have to find out a way to bring their lost ones back. In the beginning, Tony Stark was not willing to do anything. However, when he remembered Peter Parker, he decided to help them bring everyone back. They then find a way to go back in time, and he even meets his father before the time he was even born.
As fans kind of expected, the final film ended with Tony Stark’s heroic death, making it way more special to them. Avengers: Endgame was without a doubt one of the best Robert Downey Jr. movies of all time.