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How To Beat Up Robert Downey Jr.’s Character in (Almost) Every Film He’s Ever Made

Hello! I wrote a book called Punching Tom Hanks. It’s filled with tutorials on how to beat up almost anything. Chris Hardwick has generously allowed me to me post a brand new entry below. It just might save your life… (Seems unlikely even to me but you never know, right? We aren’t gods.)

Robert Downey Jr. is a phenomenal actor finally living up to his vast potential. That’s something people seem to enjoy saying. Seems about right. For a while he looked like he wasn’t gonna be around for too long, but now he’s making one great movie after another and also some about Sherlock Holmes. A lot can be gleaned about a man by watching his work. Specifically you can glean how to best that man in physical combat. Glean.

Pound, Greaser’s Palace, Up the Academy, Baby It’s You, Firstborn, Deadwait, Tuff Turf

I haven’t seen any of these films. They were all made very early in Downey’s career, when he was a teenager. Since none of them seem to feature him as the world’s most dangerous high school assassin, I’m going to assume that you can dispatch any of these characters the way you would any average teen, with swift punches and a healthy dose of contemptuous judgment.

Weird Science

Downey played a sex-crazed, Anthony Michael Hall-bullying villain named Ian. My memory fades but he was known either for drenching Hall and his robot-building buddy with a Slurpee dropped from the second story of the Sherman Oaks Galleria, or for standing next to the guy who drenched Hall with a Slurpee dropped from the second story of the Sherman Oaks Galleria. Ian is your classic weak-minded bully who later begs Hall and his pal to build a new robot for him and his friend. Okay, so, approach Downey. Offer to build him a better robot. Two days later tell Downey the robot you built him is under a blanket, and when he looks under the blanket JUMP ON HIS HEAD.

Back To School

Downey’s character “Derek” is almost identical to Ian from Weird Science, even down to the 80’s “weirdster” attire and odd-ball mannerisms. Except in this movie he’s aligned with the scrawny hero, not against him. They’re so similar, hell, even though it’s a different movie, I’d go ahead and tell Derek you built him a robot, too. Then do the same thing you did to Ian when he looked under the blanket.


I have no knowledge of this movie other than Downey’s character is named “Paul Hackley.” I guess, wait for Hackley to show up in America, then scout him yourself? You should know enough by now to be able to handle an obscure Downey character from a movie no one remembers… Seems unlikely, but if it turns out he plays, like, “Captain” America or the super-genius who invented America in a lab or something… maybe hold off a bit until you see a weakness.

The Pick-Up Artist

Downey plays a guy with the alliterative, in-movies-only moniker of Jack Jericho. Jack may sound like a rogue demolitions agent who refuses to play by the rules, but he’s actually just some 80’s version of what will someday, unfortunately, be known as a “player.” He’s ultimately undone by the charms of Molly Ringwald, who he then pursues with much vigor. Write a fake, bubble-letter filled, break-up letter and sign Ringwald’s name to it. The fight will go right out of him.

Less Than Zero

Take his drugs, then batter his drug-ravaged, drug-weakened body when he comes looking for his drugs.

Johnny Be Good

This move stars a buff and fully grown Anthony Michael Hall. It also has football in it. Replace Downey’s protective groin cup with a nearly identical copy made from fine, oh so brittle, porcelain. Wait for him to put the cup on, and approach you with the confidence of a man who’s covered his most important base. Then kick the hell out of his balls, shattering the cup and sending him to the ground.

Rented Lips

Downey plays someone or something called, “Wolf Dangler.” I’d make a joke about the name but I’m guessing that’s what the majority of this movie is occupied with doing. Aim for anything dangling and seemingly canine.


Maybe this is some kind of hippie flick? Punch him wherever paisley is showing

That’s Adequate

RDJ plays a character named Albert Einstein. I haven’t seen it but he’s either the actual Albert Einstein or a guy who spends a great deal of time telling other characters that he’s “not that Albert Einstein.” Go for the crazy hair.

True Believer, aka Fighting Justice

That’s right, “aka” Fighting Justice. Is that really what this movie is “also known as?” You’re saying that, in addition to the many, many individuals who know and love this film under its original title, True Believer, that there’s a separate group of people who, though they may love the film no less passionately, know it only as something called Fighting Justice? The world is an incredible place.

Chances Are

I think he plays sort of a lovesick ghost, spying on his ex-wife? Refer to the Punching Tom Hanks chapter on Ghost Fighting.

Air America

RDJ stars in this movie alongside Mel Gibson. They fly old planes with matching devilish grins. Not sure how this fight ends but it starts with you getting them both drunk.


A great artist portraying a great artist. Go for that bowler hat. One swift downward hammer strike with your fist should bring it crashing down around Downey/Chaplin’s eyes, blinding him. He’ll struggle hilariously while trying to get it off, maybe even prat-falling in the process. The thing about Chaplin is, once you set him in motion with an attack, he’ll take it from there. You shove him, he’ll do a split and fall down the stairs, etc. Eventually, he’ll tire himself out like a precocious toddler. Then KO him.

Heart and Souls

Or is this the sad sack ghost one? Shit, it might be…

Short Cuts

Downey, the consummate actor, actually portrays the naked lower half of actress Julianne Moore for a scene in this movie. She was unwilling to do the nude scene and so Downey, who is a friend of director Robert Altman, stepped into the role with about fifteen minutes of preparation. The results, as you can see, were magnificent.

Hail Caesar

Downey played the improbably named “Jerry.” I bet this Jerry guy finds a time machine and travels back to ancient Rome. Or maybe the Romans find a time-chariot, and they make their way to Jerry and all his modern day craziness. Man, I hope Jerry can fix things by the end.

Natural Born Killers

Robert plays an obnoxious Australian TV personality who hosts an America’s Most Wanted-type show. I bet they offered Downey a softball of a role as a generic American host and he said: “Fine, but I’m doing him as a left-handed Aussie, just to make it worth getting out of bed for.” Kidnap someone, wait for the show to profile you, then go on the show. Push him backwards off the tiny carpeted steps of the stage, into the audience. Then hit him with a flying elbow.

Only You

Okay, this one is definitely the lovesick ghost movie one. Has to be.

Richard III

Locate Richard IV. Conspire with him to get Downey’s Richard the III outta there.

Home for the Holidays

You know where he’s gonna be and you know when he’ll be there. What more do you need?

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

I was hoping he was playing the character of the Christmas tree here, in which case I was going to say, fuck, just wait for Willowby to do your dirty work for you, by chopping that tree down, and you’re all set. But according to IMDB, Downey is playing Willowby himself. So, in that case, when he bends down to chainsaw the Christmas tree, hit him on the head with a log.


Stop Downey while he’s attempting to enter the Restoration Chamber that gives his character his immortal abilities.

Danger Zone

Push him into the danger zone, thereby letting the danger do its job.

Two Girls and a Guy

Bring two kicks and an uppercut. That’s more than enough to stop Downey’s artsy, talkative protagonist.

The Gingerbread Man

If Downey plays the titular Gingerbread Man, bake him at 600 degrees for 50 minutes rather than the suggested times and temps. If he’s not playing the gingerbread man, boy, did this movie fucking blow it.

US Marshals

Robert is the uptight fed who insists on lots of red tape and following “protocol.” He’s there to allow other characters the chance to look cool as they brush past him, roll their eyes at him, or grab his lapels and throw him up gains the wall. You do the same.

In Dreams

In HIS dreams, if he thinks he’s beating you. That’s right, you’re gonna beat him with clumsy, cringe-worthy wordplay.

Friends & Lovers

Pose as a friend & or lover, get close, reveal you are actually an enemy & or hater.


This film, a veiled attack on Scientology, starred Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin. Start a newer, crazier religion than the one portrayed here, then send your followers after Downey.

Black and White

Mike Tyson is in this movie. Befriend him, turn him to your side, then send him after Downey.

Wonder Boys

Wonder Boy sounds like the super-powered alter ego of a humble shoeshine kid from the early ‘20’s, with some meager but handy super-power, like the ability to see a person’s true intentions after he gives them a shine. It’s not, and Downey’s character has no powers. Proceed as you would with a normal human.

Auto Motives

Wow… Is this a movie about shrinks for cars? A film about the ways we’re all bound to repeat certain behaviors subconsciously due to the way we’re wired? Is it about transforming robots that sell other non-transforming robots cars? We’ll never know.

The Singing Detective

You can sing, or you can solve crimes. You can’t do both. His reluctance to commit to one will be his undoing. Luckily for you, after you beat him up he’ll be unable to track you down.

Game 6

Study Games 1-5, until you’ve absorbed all their lessons.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Oddly, the title of this movie is also the exact recipe for beating up Robert Downey Jr.’s character in it.

Good Night and Good Luck

I don’t care how you beat him up, use this line as your catchphrase as you’re doing so. If you can disgustedly throw down some item of his (hat? glove?) as you say the line, all the better.

A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints

I’m guessing this started as some glossy New Orleans football program, like the ones they give out at games, that was then optioned and turned into a film. If it turns out he’s one of the Saints, ambush him after the game, when he’s tired.

The Shaggy Dog

I’m going to assume he plays the hapless, sitcom-esque dad. Leave your bike in the driveway when Dad accidentally drives over it, then gets out ready to do some scolding, grab the mangled bike and bean him with it.


Read his character’s horoscope to suss out his weaknesses. Then exploit them.

Iron Man

Downey plays the great crime-fighting alcoholic, Tony Stark. Stark is Iron Man and, yes, the most formidable Downey character you’ll ever have to face. Obviously, get him while he’s not wearing the suit. He likes the sauce. Get him back on it, then let nature take its course. That, or steal the Stark tech and use it to fashion your own armor. You’d probably need to know how to do this ahead of time, and really know your way around a set of tools. Not really a “feel it out” type plan…

Tropic Thunder

Downey plays a method actor in a war film. Downey, playing a guy who’s playing a guy who’s playing a soldier, is a pretty diluted soldier, but Downey is a hell of an actor, so this guy could still be trouble. Find a way to get him to break character, by staging a production wrap party. Then, at the party, just beat up Downey playing an actor who’s hanging out at a party and getting shit-faced. Or, acting like he’s getting shit-faced.

The Soloist

Downey discovers a homeless musical savant played by Jamie Foxx. Regardless of how you beat him up, I’m sure afterwards he’ll have learned some meaningful lesson from it. Let’s move on.

Sherlock Holmes

The master detective and originator of a name used to mockingly disparage clueless people ever since. According to this movie, Holmes was also a proficient boxer and hand-to-hand combatant. Holmes was also known to be a fan of the cocaine. Stage a series of mysteries around town, leaving cocaine as evidence at each of them. The problem will take care of itself. When next you meet Holmes he’ll be a greedy, lying wreck of a man yammering non-stop about the nature of the criminal mind. Slap him a few times.

Iron Man 2

See Iron Man. No, really, it’s an awesome movie. Also, follow the same fight plan you did when fighting that Iron Man, but with slightly more impressive tech on your suit.


Downey plays Edgar Allan Poe. Get him drunk, then seal him behind a wall you make with brick and mortar. Maybe hit him with a brick while you’re doing so. Actually, get some other guy drunk, so drunk he forgets to remember, then have him brick Downey up. Committing murder while also engaging in serious, manual labor is a handful for anyone. Let the guy work while you make wisecracks.


Kevin Seccia’s book is available now at:, and wherever else you’d find books. You can follow him on

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  1. Kevin says:

    Thanks, guys! I think I’d heard that somewhere but wasn’t sure how true it was. I kind of want to read one of the books now…

  2. Ryan says:

    This was hilarious. Do More. That is all, Good Night and Good Luck.

  3. Viktor says:

    You know, the Sherlock Holmes movie was actually pretty accurate to the books. So many people are confused by the old BBC television show portraying Holmes as a stodgy old detective. The very second novel, The Sign of the Four, establishes him as a prize-fighter- and there are frequent mentions of Holmes’s habit of betting on boxing matches based on his analysis of the opponents.

    It should also be noted that the books were actually pretty action-packed, with frequent scuffles to show off Holmes’s prowess. I find it pretty entertaining that so many people think the cocaine-addicted, fencing expert, boxing-regular detective who is constantly at odds with the police would really be more docile than RDJ portrayed him.