Downey is in fact one of the few human beings on the planet Earth to know what it feels like to do a billion. Both Avengers movies made that worldwide. So did Iron Man 3. Think about that. What a strange and massive and surreal and bittersweet accomplishment that is. Name an actor over the past decade—actually, name an actor, period, short of maybe Leonardo DiCaprio—who has more seamlessly and improbably wed art and commerce. May marks the release of Captain America: Civil War, in which Downey’s Iron Man once again plays a large role, and it’s fascinating to look back on what he’s done with this character. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy often gets the credit for bringing a high-art seriousness to the superhero genre. But no one has made the genre more fun than Downey. His Tony Stark—mischievous, morally blurry, and more alive for it—embodies the feeling people are seeking when they go see these films, which are increasingly the only films that get made, and that’s because of him, too. He and Marvel have built an astonishingly large business out of this, a business that has now spread across the film industry like kudzu, choking everything else out, including many of the more modest, performance-driven films that Downey used to star in, back when he was frequently hailed as one of the greatest actors of his generation, rather than merely the most highly paid. The reality is, these days he’s a little bit of both. Read more at GQ.