At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Chinese mega-entertainer and occasional political commenter Jackie Chan made some waves by stating his desires to become the next Iron Man. With current Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. reaching that magic number of three we may soon see a new actor step into the suit of armor. But could the current king of colorful kung-fu really be up to the task?

During the festival, Chan remarked, “I really want to play Iron Man but I don’t think the audiences want to see me as Iron Man.”

Well, wait a sec now. Sure, when you first hear “Jackie Chan” and “Iron Man” in the same sentence your immediate instinct is to scoff, but after letting the idea soak in a little, a Jackie Chan Iron Man could actually be pretty cool. Let’s break this down.

The genre is his forte

The Iron Man series of films are presented as action/adventure stories with frequent bursts of comedy. Not only is Jackie Chan well versed in this particular genre, he’s got to be the most experienced actor with action/adventure/comedies.

He has starred in well over 100 movies and garnered international fame. He’s particularly loved in his native China which is now the second largest film market the world – a fact that shouldn’t be lost on the studios.

 But, Tony Stark’s not Asian

Hmmm, that’s a good point… so I’m going to circumvent it by calling anyone who thinks Jackie Chan can’t play the role of Tony Stark racist. Thanks, political correctness! You helped me dodge a bullet there.

Throwing ethnicity out the window altogether, it’s hard not to notice that Chan does kind of have a Tony Stark-esque face if you look through some photos (although he is looking a little chubbier these days).

The speaking

Even with the continuity problem out of the way, there is still the issue of Jackie’s thick Chinese accent. This could be seen as a handicap in a movie where a lot of the role is voice-over work while Stark is inside the suit.

However, some producers already took a chance on Chan before giving him voice acting work in the animated Jackie Chan Adventures. Generally, animated shows based on real celebrities suck hard and die a swift death. However, Jackie Chan Adventures had a strong five-year run and was well received by viewers. It’s now syndicated around the world.

How does Chan compare to Robert Downey Jr.?

Terribly, of course.

But, could anyone really hold a candle to Downey for this particular role? In the event he does decide to look for greener pastures, the studios will track down another big name to fill the helmet in the same way but they won’t be able to recreate the magic.

It’s like what happened with the Michael Keaton Batman. Keaton had that great balance of soberness and wild intensity that you’d expect someone like Bruce Wayne to have. After he left they tried to throw in any old big name, with disastrous results.

It wasn’t until they did a full makeover with Christian Bale that the series regained its quality, showing that a change in actor requires an appropriate and sometimes drastic change in atmosphere in order to maintain a superhero franchise through the years.

In the same way, anyone trying to replicate what Robert Downey Jr. did is destined for failure. The better move would be inserting someone like Jackie Chan as Iron Man with the right change in style and direction. It could work after the initial shock wears off.

Furthermore, they guy’s getting on in years and could really use a CGI heavy vehicle after the decades of entertainment he gave us at the sacrifice of his own body.

So all together, repeat after me loud and clear: “Let Jackie Chan be the next Iron Man!”

No? Alright, it was worth a shot. Jackie isn’t holding his breath for a phone call either as he said at Cannes: “Anyway, nobody pays me big money to make this kind of movie. I love Iron Man and this kind of movie, but no one hires me. Fools!”

Source: Cinema Today (Japanese)