I think we can all agree the start of 2020 has been, uh, a little rough so far. But small, good things constantly happen in the world to counteract the big, scary moments, and such was the case this week. Appearing on Ellen ostensibly to promote his new movie, Dolittle, RDJ got the chance to meet Vincent, a 10-year-old boy whose life was changed by Downey Jr’s Marvel character, Iron Man.
When Vincent was one year old, he suddenly lost the ability to speak and started showing signs of being on the spectrum. His parents, Nicole and Andy, got him tested and sure enough, he was confirmed as autistic.
But at age six, a miracle happened: After watching an Iron Man movie, Vincent put on an Iron Man helmet and suddenly began to speak. It was “painful” not being able to express his thoughts or make friends or tell his parents what was going on in his life, said Vincent. But putting on the Iron Man helmet enabled him to speak. “It helped me talk, it helped me hide my identity from the world,” explained Vincent.
His dad agreed: “It’s almost like the mask provided him a sense of – it grounded him,” said Andy. “It enabled him to feel confident. Within 24 hours, Robert, we saw a different child.”
Downey Jr. was visibly moved by the story. “It’s so wild in playing this character, there’s something I think for all of us when you’re able to wear a mask if you’re doing theater in school or Halloween or whatever…I had a particular affinity – you and I both did – with this same mask for some reason. It gave us a voice.” Downey said.
But it turns out, Downey Jr. might have been the most grateful one on the stage and spoke about how much of an impact Marvel has had on not just his life, but the lives of people all over the world. “People always say, ‘What will you miss most about having played this part?’ It, obviously, is being able to talk to moms and dads and young folks and being able to say, ‘Somehow or other, this had a positive impact on you.'”
To cap it all off? RDJ presented the family with a $20,000 check to help with therapy and medical expenses, courtesy of Shutterfly. It’s nice to know that Robert Downey Jr. no longer has to wear the suit to keep doing good in the world.
Watch the full video below:
Dolittle is in theaters this weekend. Get tickets here.