‘Iron Man’ Star Apologizes to Trans Community After Backlash

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Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) (left) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) in elevator, Iron Man 3

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Iron Man actor is responding to the controversy.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

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The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has carefully built the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a superhero franchise established since Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback vehicle, Iron Man, in 2008. The overwhelmingly positive response to Downey Jr. as the eponymous Iron Man/Tony Stark sparked an entire superhero franchise that was essentially grown on the back of this surprise blockbuster hit. From Robert Downey Jr.’s somewhat newfound rockstar status sprung the ever-popular “cinematic universe formula”, where characters from separate movies come together in a shared universe — with Iron Man’s solo story culminating in Joss Whedon-directed The Avengers (2012), alongside Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk) all brought together by none other than Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury to deal with the alien threatening Earth — in the form of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki Laufeyson/Loki Odinson.

Avengers Characters fight in New York
Credit: Marvel Studios

The success of these original six Avengers, a superhero team of “The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” led to follow-up solo hits for Downey Jr., in the form of Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013). After the Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe Russo all but nuked the continued future of the OG six in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), RDJ’s Iron Man has been basically missing from the MCU following his epic sacrifice to rid the universe of Thanos (Josh Brolin), despite his return being much-discussed — as well as his successor’s recent introduction.

Now, the prominent Iron Man 3 actor is responding to a tweet posted yesterday that has garnered some controversy.


Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man (left) and Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian (right)
Credit: Marvel Studios

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What controversy is the Iron Man star involved in?

The Iron Man 3 movie was 2013 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, and dealing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s iteration of Iron Man grappling with the aftermath of Loki’s attack in The Avengers. Directed by Shane Black and starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as Rhodey/James Rhodes/War Machine, and Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin. Actor Guy Pearce starred as Aldrich Killian, the true villain of the film, posing a genuine threat as an MCU interpretation of sorts of The Incredibles’ (2004) Syndrome/Buddy Pine. Just like Syndrome, Pearce’s Killian was a a prior fan who seeks revenge against the protagonist superhero for rejecting him, turning into a super-powerful super-villain with designs to take down their previously beloved idol.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in 'Iron Man' (2008)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Now, the Aldrich Killian actor Guy Pearce, whose career began acting as the drag queen Adam Whitely/Felicia Jollygoodfellow in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), is apologizing to the trans community for a post he made yesterday. Pearce apologizes first and foremost for bringing this up “on a platform like Twitter”, admitting that it was not a good idea. He states that it has only started a “fire” and made everyone “dig their heels in”. He recognizes that it is a “complex and sensitive” conversation that ought to be “discussed face to face” and not on a platform designed for brevity. He insists that his initial questions directly asking trans people for answers was insensitive for a “man… with a ‘Full House’ of privilege”.  Speaking on the state of the industry, Pearce admits:

Our industry is already a cesspool of politics, bums on seats funding, nepotism, and favouritism.

The full apology tweet reads as follows:

I posted a tweet yesterday that I shouldn’t have, which to prevent upsetting anyone else I have now deleted. A fuller apology and explanation of the point I was raising is attached xx Guy

You may be wondering: what exactly did Guy Pearce post initially that stirred up the controversy in the first place? According to Deadline, Pearce had tweeted the following yesterday directed at the trans community, which resulted in several people speaking out about his stance:

A question – if the only people allowed to play trans characters r trans folk, then r we also suggesting the only people trans folk can play r trans characters. Surely that will limit ur career as an actor? Isn’t the point of an actor to be able play anyone outside ur own world?

Overall, it appears his stance is that he just doesn’t believe that artists need to “announce their personal identity, sexual preference, political stance, disability, religious beliefs” in order to get work. Pearce summarizes:

I believe that to suggest ‘acting’ can only come from our own lived experience annihilates our imagination. I wouldn’t want that restriction placed on a minority actor or any actor for that matter, myself included.

What do you think about Guy Pearce’s apology to the trans community? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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