Robert Downey Jr. at ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ premiere: ‘Wakanda forever! I can say that as an honorary black man’
In a crowd including Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana and even coach David Fizdale, Iron Man pledges allegiance to the ‘Black Panther’ phenomenon
8:28 AMNearly 40 Marvel superheroes gathered on the stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on Monday night. For 10 years, the studio has been making films that bring comic book stories to life — breaking box-office standards and often introducing the next big thing along the way.
So the actors — Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana and Scarlett Johansson among them — stood there prepped for the opening of Avengers: Infinity War on Friday. According to Fandango, it’s already sold out more than 1,000 screens and has a chance to top the biggest opening of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which collected $248 million on its big night in 2015. Marvel is already celebrating unprecedented success of its February release, Black Panther, which has to date earned more than $680 million domestically and is still growing.
But on Monday night, when Downey Jr., who began his Marvel journey with 2008’s Iron Man, was given the microphone by studio president Kevin Feige, he made his allegiance very clear: “Wakanda forever,” he said as he looked behind him to see Boseman. “I can say that as an honorary black man.”
The crowd, which included Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance and Laurence Fishburne, broke out into laughter, reminded of the actor’s controversial turn in 2008’s Tropic Thunder — his character undergoes skin surgery so that he can actually become a black man for a role. Infinity Wars screened at just under three hours — and judging by the oohs, aahs, laughter and audible shock reverberating through the space, Marvel has another darling on its hands.
Immediately after the premiere, lucky golden wristband holders were ushered to a rooftop for an after-party where guests feasted on vegan falafel, Thai chicken meatballs, beef meatballs tossed in marinara sauce and an assortment of salads, cheese platters and mini desserts. The crowd was huge and eclectic; the last few Marvel premiere parties (such as the one for Black Panther) have been more intimate. Guests jumped into and out of photo booths, received mini Marvel puppets and sipped champagne.
The night was soundtracked with tunes from George Michael, Janet Jackson, Prince, Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z and Michael Jackson, and industry insiders mingled with cast members such as Saldana, Winston Duke, Josh Brolin and even former Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.
The party started closing out shortly after midnight, with straggling well-wishers issuing kudos to film producers for pulling off what likely will be another box-office blockbuster. Fans will have to wait until next year for the film’s second part — a year too long.
The Drake-Kelly Oubre ‘beef’ proves just how good the rapper really is
Drizzy is firmly planting himself as a storyline in the NBA playoffs — and the Wizards star may just be a pawn
5:58 PMThe Toronto Raptors are up 2-0 in their first-round series against the Washington Wizards. And in those two games, Drake has finagled his way into the series’ storylines. Before Game 1, he engaged in Instagram comment warfare with John Wall. Exhibit A:
John Wall is ready for playoff Drake in the 6️⃣ today… 👀 pic.twitter.com/zzPMG6DnZz
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) April 14, 2018
This led to the “God’s Plan” rapper taunting Wall from the sideline during Tuesday night’s Game 2. Exhibit B:
"John, you're getting bodied by 20 tonight."
Drake & John Wall trash talking during the Raptors GM2 win over the Wizards. pic.twitter.com/zZU4GV7f6t
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 18, 2018
During the same game, Drake and third-year Wizards forward Kelly Oubre crossed paths as the cameras caught the former calling the latter “a bum.” Exhibit C:
Drake just called Kelly Oubre Jr. a bum as he ran by 👀 pic.twitter.com/8b9MLJ0mpU
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 18, 2018
Leave it to social media to recover an old Oubre tweet from 2011 in which he said the rapper had no swag — which was deleted almost immediately after Tuesday night’s game. Oubre downplayed the incident, saying the two were jawing back and forth all game. Exhibit D:
Kelly Oubre Jr. heard Drake call him a "bum" during Game 2. "That’s my guy though. I see him in the summer time… we pretty much run the streets of LA together, on the A-list tip, not in the hood way. He is a great rapper.” pic.twitter.com/WWPchLCJAl
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) April 18, 2018
The trash talk compounds to a fascinating subplot in the playoffs that highlights courtside celebrities involving themselves in the game, most recently evidenced by Dwyane Wade and comedian Kevin Hart in Game 2 of the Philadelphia 76ers/Miami Heat series. But the dynamic isn’t new — the league’s greatest athlete-celebrity rivalry was basketball star Reggie Miller and film director Spike Lee. But let’s focus on Drake for a second. Whether you deem him a fair-weather fan or not, there’s no denying his love for the NBA. There’s also no denying everything he does is with a purpose. Drake is either rap’s savviest director, an evil marketing genius or a love child of the two. Look no further than last week’s Atlanta episode, appropriately titled Champagne Papi, which even served as part of the rollout for his newest anthem, “Nice For What” — which, this week, replaced his previous No. 1, “God’s Plan,” as the top song in the country. And on Monday, he announced the title of his highly anticipated new album, Scorpion, dropping in June. All the pieces matter.
His hometown Raptors are the top seed in the Eastern Conference. A potential second-round matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers looms on the horizon. And his album could very well drop dead-square in the middle of the NBA Finals. From Fortnite to hit TV shows, Drake has firmly entrenched himself in several culturally relevant conversations. The NBA playoffs are just his latest muse.