HOLLYWOOD — One of them flies around the world, is greeted by roaring applause everywhere he goes and works a red carpet like nobody's business. Ladies love him, men want to be like him and many call him a hero. The other one is Tony Stark.
On Monday night, Robert Downey Jr. continued to blur the line between real life and fiction, arriving at the premiere of [movie id="390378"]"Iron Man 2"[/movie] in one of his character's many cars. Like Stark in the film, Downey was greeted by scantily clad dancing girls, rapturous applause and reporters with questions. So, where does Downey end and Stark begin?
"Tony Stark is the movie star of superheroes, for sure," co-star Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) insisted. "He's slightly debauched, handsome, funny."
"Yeah, I think he's the Marlon Brando of superheroes," Mickey Rourke (Ivan Vanko) agreed. "He's on top of the world. He's a real interesting character; he's not your typical superhero. I think a lot of people can identify with him in that way."
As Downey himself came walking along the carpet, he greeted reporters with the same sort of half-joking answers and sly winks that have made his Stark such an intriguing character. In the sequel, much of the film deals with the repercussions of Tony's refusal to keep a secret identity, a move that turns him into the Marvel equivalent of ... well, a guy like Robert Downey Jr.
"I hadn't thought of it in that way, but yeah," Don Cheadle (Rhodey) said. "He's the movie star of superheroes. He's a rock star in his own life, a billionaire that goes after it hard. And that's what stars do — not me, but a lot of stars do."
"Tony Stark is Tony Stark," explained Samuel L. Jackson, a.k.a. Nick Fury. "He's a rich guy who is used to klieg lights and big events. He shows up — all the superheroes have some ego, but he's the one that doesn't take it too seriously."
For his part, Downey told us that there are still plenty of distinctions to be made between himself and the man in the iron suit. But when the film comes out on May 7, don't be surprised if you see a Downey more comfortable in Stark's skin. "I stopped thinking about the character I was creating and started thinking about the themes running through the film," he explained of his performance in the sequel. "And [I focused on] just being a little bit more of a vulnerable Tony this time."
Clearly one of the biggest premieres of the year, the "Iron Man 2" bash pulled in a truly eclectic crowd. Everyone from Hugh Hefner to Sylvester Stallone to Ron Jeremy and Dane Cook were present, along with franchise stars like Scarlett Johansson and director Jon Favreau. According to Rourke, they were all there because of Downey.
"I think the success of the first one was due to the fact that Robert is such a fine actor," Rourke said. "He brought in a different kind of superhero, something different, which is part of himself."
As the crowd grew increasingly eager to see what Downey would do in his second go-around as Stark, Paltrow counted herself among the assembled fans. "I'm excited to see it myself," she admitted before heading inside the theater. "I'm excited for the world to see it. Everybody seems pumped up to see it."
Check out everything we've got on "Iron Man 2."
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