An interesting question came up on Gizmodo this morning, and my instinctive answer surprised me.
"Hey, Are You Ready For A Bunch More Movies Of RDJ's Sherlock Holmes?"
My first thought: "No . . . ?"
I mean, I like Robert Downey Jr. I like Sherlock Holmes. Seeing RDJ in a Sherlock Holmes space has been entertaining . . . as a novelty. But the thought of Robert Downey Jr. as an ongoing representation of the iconic character?
"No, thank you . . . ?"
The most memorable Sherlock Holmeses have always been the actors we didn't know before they took on the character. Rathbone. Brett. Cumberbatch. They become Sherlock Holmes to us, and face the danger of typecasting because we identify their image as Holmes. The reverse happens with known actors.
Downey. Frewer. Plummer. You look at the screen and see Downey, Frewer, and Plummer. Yes, the story might involve you enough to almost forget, but not always. And sometimes there's character bleed from their other prominent roles: Sherlock Holmes is suddenly Tony Stark. Or, in Christopher Lee's case, Dracula. There are others, but everyone's personal mileage varies on these sorts of subjects, so I'd better just stick to those . . . .
Downey's Sherlock reminds me of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow in a way. Free-wheeling, eccentric, a tad altered, but Sparrow was original with Depp, he is a Depp character. More of a comic character than anything else. Entertaining enough, cinematic enough, but missing the full power of the legend brought to life. I know I'll enjoy the Downey Sherlock, but will I enjoy it any more than an installment of Pirates of the Caribbean? Or some other movie that doesn't have Sherlock at all?
Budget for the first RDJ Sherlock Holmes: $90 million.
Budget for the second RDJ Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows: $125 million.
That kind of investment in a Sherlock Holmes film doesn't come without a lead of Downey's level, so a person can't really go, "Boy, I wish they would make the next one with a new Sherlock Holmes." (Though, after Dr. Strange, who knows? Cumberbatch might be there.) Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellen only made $29.4 million total.
It's almost as if Sherlock Holmes is going to be in a major motion picture or ongoing network television show that meets with mainstream audience success in America . . . well, he . . . can't just be Sherlock Holmes?
If I'm sounding a little tentative in my thoughts on this subject, well, it's because I've learned to show sensitivity toward the fans of Sherlock Holmes portrayals who might find negative comments about any given Holmes . . . unpleasant?
But Robert Downey Jr. coming back for one more go-round with the name "Sherlock Holmes" is not nearly so tentative any more, so . . .