Robert Downey Jr.’s Doolittle: Anyone Else Concerned By The New Trailer?

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BY October 25, 2019

After being Iron Man for a decade, a new trailer introduces audiences to Robert Downey Jr.’s Doolittle. The role sounds tailor-made for the actor. However, the latest trailer brings up some concerns.

How Robert Downey Jr.’s Doolittle Came Together

The Doolittle movie has been in development for a long time. 20th Century Fox had the rights to the property, having produced three previous iterations before. But this is the first to be produced by Universal Pictures. During the development, the movie went through many changes, including its title. But everything came together after the casting of Robert Downey Jr. The new film features an all-star voice-cast that includes Tom Holland. Holland was last seen with Downey Jr. in the emotional climax of Avengers: Endgame.

The movies are based on the original novels by critically acclaimed writer Hugh Lofting. The story is about a British doctor in 1900’s UK, who can speak to animals.

Poster for Robert Downey Jr.'s Doolittle. Imave via Twitter.

Eddie Murphy Was Doolittle Before Robert Downey Jr.

The many novels in Lofting’s series saw Doolittle embark on a plethora of adventures with his animal compatriots. It’s a story that has adapted into fun and interesting films for many generations. The most memorable Doolittle movie came from Eddie Murphy in 1998. A modern-day adaptation, this Dr. Doolittle featured the trademark comedy of Murphy himself. The silly and outrageous story completely worked with Murphy in the titular role.

The movie saw Murphy’s comic timing firing on all cylinders. Especially given his costars were Chris Rock and Norm McDonald in key voice roles. So when thinking about Murphy’s performance, Robert Downey Jr. felt like a shoe-in in a very similar role.

Robert Downey Jr. As Doolittle Seemed Like A Match Made In Heaven

Despite Downey Jr.’s decades-long career, most recently Downey Jr. has cultivated an innate style of sarcasm and snark. It’s why he was so perfect for Iron Man as well. So when thinking about Downey Jr. in a similar setting of a man having to react to animals talking to him all of a sudden, it seemed perfect casting.

Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has a very brief interaction with the Bradley Cooper voiced Rocket Racoon in Avengers: Endgame. However, that one-line interaction was hilarious. So if Doolittle was going to be like that, but a feature-length film of Downey Jr. reacting to talking animals, it was a sure-fire success.

That is, until the recently released new Doolittle trailer. 

The Trailer Raises Some Concerns About The New Doolittle

It seems that Doolittle will be a more faithful adaptation to the original Lofting novels than the 1998 film was. The setting is a 1900’s United Kingdom, where a very British Dr. Doolittle lives in seclusion with his many exotic animal friends.

The teaser trailer doesn’t look like an origin story. But rather a story in a world that has already established who Dr. Doolittle is, who has already had a few adventures, it would seem. Not to mention that Downey Jr. sports a very British accent to boot.

Doolittle Is Full Of Whimsy And Fantasy

The trailer plays very much like an epic fantasy film along the lines of Finding Neverland or Life Of Pi. The story seems to follow Doolittle embarking on a sea voyage with his many animal friends, meeting various dangers and colorful characters on the way.

The few lines that Downey Jr. spouts in the Doolittle trailer are all of encouragement, whimsy, and wonder. None of the Downey Jr. snark or wittiness. At all. This is a little worrying for me.

If Doolittle is going to play like a straight-faced movie about wonderment and high stakes adventures, it’s a risk. Whereas a comedy with Downey Jr. being himself, and the gimmick of talking animals definitely seemed like a win-win.

Will Audiences Accept Robert Downey Jr. As Doolittle?

Doolittle will be Downey Jr.’s first non-Iron Man role in years. His last movie was The Judge in 2014. But even in that he still sort of embodied the usual Stark snark. As did his Guy Ritchie franchise of Sherlock Holmes. However, Doolittle seems completely removed from the Robert Downey Jr. that audiences have come to love for over 10 years now.

Playing an eccentric and kooky doctor that talks to animals feels like a risk. But then again, if it works, it could be exactly what Downey Jr. needs to separate himself from the MCU. Not to mention establish himself as the amazing actor that everyone also realizes he is.

Doolittle will release on January 17, 2020. 

What did you think of Robert Downey Jr. as Doolittle? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured image via Screen Grab.


Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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