The press tour for the upcoming sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron is grabbing a lot of attention ahead of the film’s North American release, just not the good kind of attention.
The latest public relations flub came Friday in the form of what some have deemed a racist statement made by leading man Robert Downey Jr.
After storming out of an interview earlier this week with Britain’s Channel 4 News, the legendary actor sat down to again discuss the film, where he made a remark about Oscar-winning Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu.
The Mexican director has been critical of superhero films in the past, even telling Deadline last October he considers them “cultural genocide.”
“The way they apply violence to it, it’s absolutely right-wing,” he told the entertainment industry news outlet. “If you observe the mentality of most of those films, it’s really about people who are rich, who have power, who will do the good, who will kill the bad. Philosophically, I just don’t like them.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Downey was asked what he thought of Iñárritu’s comments, to which he answered: “Look, I respect the heck out of him, and I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like ‘cultural genocide’ just speaks to how bright he is.”
Some are now calling the comments racist, and one Twitter user went as far as to say, “Robert Downey Jr is a mega tool. He gave up drugs & became a right wing A—HOLE.”
Another stated: “Robert Downey Jr is a racist. White people cant be trusted.”
RDJ stormed out of an Avengers: Age of Ultron promotional interview earlier this week, after British reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy went off topic and pressed the actor about his, at times, troubled past.
Downey’s Avengers co-stars Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans both apologized Thursday for comments they made in a Wednesday interview, wherein they called co-star Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character a “slut” and a “whore.”
“Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America,” Evans said in a statement Thursday. “We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.”
Renner also apologized: “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone… It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting a tedious press tour.”
Iñárritu was the subject of a racist joke told by Sean Penn at this year’s Academy Awards, back in February. Prior to introducing the Mexican-born director’s Birdman as this year’s Best Picture, Penn quipped, “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?”
Iñárritu would later say he found the joke “hilarious,” but others were outraged.
Being a Hollywood institutional liberal, Penn was immediately forgiven, after offering no apologies. He later blamed America for the controversy while promoting the film The Gunman.
That film later flopped at the box office, and lost around $30 million after it was panned by critics.
The Mexican-born director has not yet responded to Downey’s comments.