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SYFY WIRE Back to the Future

Great Scott! Back to the Future deepfake recasts film with Tom Holland & Robert Downey Jr.

By Jacob Oller
Robert Downey Jr. in Back to the Future

As scary as deepfake technology is, what with the darker implications of its machine learning and autoencoder-driven face-swapping, it's still produced some good in the world. Most of that good involves cinema, whether it's recasting major roles with more diverse leads or putting beloved celebrities in roles they never had. Sure, that fun might not outweigh the political and personal danger of this increasingly powerful tech, but at least it'll amuse us for a while before making us question the very nature of reality. One of the most amusing videos to utilize the technique recasts Back to the Future with another iconic, oddball, father-and-son-esque duo: Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland.

The Marvel stars — Iron Man and Spider-Man in the films — take over for Christopher Lloyd's Doc Brown and Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly in a video from YouTuber EZRyderX47...and it weirdly works. Part of that is Holland's uncanny resemblance to the star he's taking the place of, while some of it is the on-screen duo's established chemistry.

Take a look:

Great Scott! For a second, it's hard to even tell that Marty is played by someone else. And Downey's elastic face is a much better fit here than in something equally his recently released Dolittle. With little movement and few cuts — mostly steady conversation — the Back to the Future clip is a deepfaker's dream, allowing for a large swath to be replaced in one go.

Unfortunately, this video may be the closest thing MCU fans get for a paternal reunion between Downey and Holland, as the Marvel universe has moved on from Iron Man — despite rumors of a Black Widow cameo — while the webslinger has already fallen into a Jake Gyllenhaal/Mysterio trap when looking for a new father figure. Perhaps Peter Parker will still be dealing with Tony Stark's absence when he returns to the big screen on July 16, 2021.