The fans have spoken, and they love Robert Downey Jr. 3,000. The Iron Man portrayer and “Avengers: Endgame” star was inducted as one of the esteemed Disney Legends on Friday morning at the D23 Expo in Anaheim.
“The first time I visited Disney, I was transported to another place within moments of being arrested … for smoking pot in the gondola without a license,” he joked with the more than 6,000 fans packed into Hall D23 for the ceremony. “Playing Tony [Stark] over this many years, and the thematic idea that technology can guide our species toward enlightenment has been worthwhile. it’s an ongoing meditation. It’s been a great gift… Here’s to the future.”
Downey Jr. has starred as Iron Man alter ego Tony Stark since the MCU started in 2008 with “Iron Man” and concluded his run when the Infinity Saga came to a close with “Avengers: Endgame” this summer. He also recently received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Teen Choice Award for Choice Action Movie Actor for “Avengers: Endgame.”
In his speech, Downey Jr. acknowledged the contributions of fellow MCU actor and Disney Legends inductee Jon Favreau, who is arguably Disney’s 2019 MVP. He directed the CGI-animated version of “The Lion King,” which has earned over $980 million at the box office so far. He also was seen in “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” executive produced “Avengers: Endgame,” and is ushering in the first live-action “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” for the upcoming streaming service, Disney+.
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Favreau took a rather intellectual approach to contextualizing what the award means and Walt Disney’s legacy. Shaped like Mickey’s arm holding a wand, the award is a reference to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” which is one of Favreau’s favorite films.
“Thank you for creating a dialogue through storytelling… As Arthur C. Clarke said, ‘Technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ Disney has been bringing the old myths and the magic of technology together to create indelible memories. … [The movie was based on] the Goethe poem from the 1700s, the myth of the golem of Prague with the water buckets. Disney tapped into stories that went back into human history,” he said.
He also pointed out that the wizard in the movie is Yensid, Disney spelled backwards and noted that he himself is “on my own path now from mouse to magician.”
It’s to be hoped that Favreau will deign to appear for the afternoon Disney+ presentation, which will very likely reveal a trailer or some other sneak peek of “The Mandalorian.”
This year, Downey Jr. and Favreau join several others being granted “legend” status: fellow MCU actor Ming-Na Wen (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Mulan”), Mustafa voice James Earl Jones, imagineer Wing Chao, singing legend and “Hocus Pocus” star Bette Midler, “High School Musical” and “Descendants” director and choreaographer Kenny Ortega, “Fantastmic!” creator/director Barnette Ricci, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer, and “Lion King” composer Hans Zimmer.
Disney+ will launch on Nov. 12, when many of the Marvel and Disney films and TV series, including Favreau’s “The Mandalorian,” will be exclusively available for streaming.