Iron Man appears to have made a recent pitstop to his old stomping grounds.
Marvel movie star Robert Downey Jr. posted pictures and videos of himself touring parts of the MIT campus this week, including one of him taking a bike ride near the Cambridge border.
“Every 1M spent on bike lanes creates 18 more jobs than the same amount for regular auto centric roads…lets ‘self-propel’ our planets future….#bikelanesrock,” Downey Jr. said in a tweet Wednesday, which was shared thousands of times.
The post showed the actor — who traded in his flying metal suit and mask for a bucket hat and striped T-shirt — pedaling along Mass. Ave., across the Harvard Bridge, and spotlighted some MIT buildings in the background.
“So much fun to see Robert Downey Jr. riding his bike across the Mass. Ave. bridge from Boston to Cambridge and right by MIT!” tweeted @MITstudents, an account used for campus announcements and updates.
Downey Jr.’s visit to the area marks a bit of a homecoming for Tony Stark, the fictional character he famously plays in the Marvel universe. Stark, the billionaire superhero behind the sophisticated red and gold armor, is a graduate of MIT.
While it’s unclear if he’s still in town or when the video was taken, the actor appears to have been visiting parts of the Cambridge school dating back to the end of July, with the majority centered around Hugh Herr, a professor at the MIT Media Lab, and the K. Lisa Yang Center For Bionics.
“Tony Stark went to MIT, and thanks to Hugh Herr and the K. Lisa Yang Center For Bionics, I’m witnessing the REAL WORLD TECHNOLOGY MIRACLES that will affect countless lives in previously unimaginable ways,” Downey Jr. tweeted on July 28, in a post that included a photo of him standing next to Herr, the center’s coleader.
A double amputee, Herr is currently working on “creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs,” according to his profile.
The research center will “initially focus on developing and testing three bionic technologies,” and is aimed at pioneering “transformational bionic interventions across a broad range of conditions affecting the body and mind,” according to its website.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be an Executive Advisory Board member, and I’m excited to make y’all part of this heroic journey to a brighter future,” Downey Jr. tweeted.
To the apparent joy of those at the MIT Media Lab, Downey Jr. dropped by while celebrating the center’s launch. One clip posted by a fan account also shows the actor speaking at the event.
The McGovern Institute, a community of MIT neuroscientists focused on understanding the brain and health diseases, said it was a “delight to host Iron Man” at the launch and showcase the work happening in various labs.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be an Executive Advisory Board member, and I’m excited to make y’all part of this heroic journey to a brighter future.— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) July 28, 2022
Tony Stark (@RobertDowneyJr) visited our lab @medialab yesterday to celebrate the launch of the K.Lisa Yang Center for Bionics. We shared our work on bionic interfaces to restore motion, excited for what’s coming! 🦾 https://t.co/peWj4w04fl pic.twitter.com/5fBbkyAeOX— Guillermo Herrera-Arcos (@Guillermonics) July 28, 2022
After the event, Downey Jr. continued to check out Iron Man’s alma mater, according to his Twitter feed.
On Wednesday, the actor, who is the founder of FootPrint Coalition, a group of “investors, donors, and storytellers committed to scaling technologies to restore our planet,” retweeted pictures of himself in various spots around town while wearing casual attire, images first shared from the coalition’s account.
In several of the pictures, Downey Jr. is seen dramatically staring off into the distance with recognizable scenery in the background. At some point, he also apparently visited the Public Garden and the Arthur Fiedler Memorial along the Charles River Esplanade.
But it was the sepia-toned video of his ride over the Harvard Bridge — commonly called the Mass. Ave. bridge — that garnered the most attention online this week.
A number of organizations and people praised Downey Jr. for advocating for more bike lanes, which have been a divisive issue in Cambridge lately — particularly along Mass. Ave. and the Harvard Bridge. (Others chided him for not wearing a helmet in the video, though the Iron Man one may have been a giveaway).
“Robert Downey Jr. is riding in the bike lanes I helped create? AWESOME,” Patrick Baxter, a Cambridge traffic engineer, tweeted Wednesday.
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