Iron Man doesn’t take punches — he deflects them.
Robert Downey Jr. responded Monday to Martin Scorsese’s bold declaration that Marvel makes “theme parks, “not “cinema,” during a heated appearance on “The Howard Stern Show.”
Stern started by referencing the “huge moneymaker” and asked if he “still enjoys doing it.”
The “Iron Man” star responded, “I’ll tell you the truth: I didn’t expect to become what it became, and it is this very large, multi-headed Hydra at this point.”
The Oscar nominee for 1992’s “Chaplin” then challenged the legendary filmmaker’s statement.
“I’ve always had other interests, and according to Scorsese it’s not cinema. I gotta take a look at that, ya know?” he said, shaking his head. “I mean, it plays in theaters.”
Stern pushed back, needling Downey Jr. about what Scorsese meant.
“I appreciate his opinion because I think it’s like anything — we need all of the different perspectives so we can come to center and move on,” Downey said, as Stern attempts and fails to talk over him. “You know this — you’re in therapy! You’re therapized!”
When the iconic shock jock accused Downey Jr. of being too nice, the actor clapped back: “Magnanimous it’s called.”
“Were you insulted?” Stern asked. “I mean, it is cinema to me.”
Again, an apparently agitated Downey Jr. struggles a bit to find his words: “It is, it, it would be like saying Howard Stern isn’t radio. It makes no sense to say it.”
“Was he jealous of the success?” Stern asked.
“Of course not … In his view, and by the way there’s a lot to be said for how these genre movies — and I was happy to be a part of the problem, if there is one — denigrated the art form [of] cinema,” Downey Jr. said.
“By the way, when you come in like a stomping beast and eliminate the competition in such a demonstrative way, it’s phenomenal.”
That’s when Stern suggested Scorsese, a noted film archivist, might indeed be jealous — and getting old.
“Iron Man” wasn’t having it.
“Do you actually think Martin Scorsese is upset about Marvel movies? ” Downey Jr. said before switching his gaze to co-host Robin Quivers, changing the subject — and agreeing to disagree with Stern on a host of topics.
The legendary director of “The Godfather” and “GoodFellas” — who recently returned to form with the acclaimed and “The Irishman” — took his digs at the blockbuster domination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new interview with Empire magazine.
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese told the magazine. “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
Scorsese’s remarks surely left many superhero filmmakers smarting.
“Joker” director Todd Phillips has credited Scorsese classics such as “Taxi Driver” and “King of Comedy” in his press tour — and even went so far as to bring in “King of Comedy” star Robert De Niro for a part in “Joker.”
James Gunn, the writer-director of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, took to Twitter to express his disappointment.
“Martin Scorsese is one of my five favorite living filmmakers. I was outraged when people picketed ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ without having seen the film,” Gunn tweeted. “I’m saddened that he’s now judging my films in the same way. That said, I will always love Scorsese, be grateful for his contribution to cinema, and can’t wait to see ‘The Irishman.’”
“The Irishman” is out on Netflix Nov. 27. The streaming giant announced Monday that it’s also making the unusual move of screening the film from Nov. 1 through Dec. 1 at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre.