Yes and no.
The thing with Johnny Depp is— since the 1980s, he has excelled in the very offbeat lead roles in great films. Prior to Pirates, he developed this reputation as an iconoclastic actor, shunning the mainstream for smaller film gems.
Robert, on the other hand, was the eccentric scene-stealer with the occasional lead role, and more known for his drug habits. I’d honestly be hard-pressed to consider they were in the same league back then.
Unlike Depp, he was never really in the position to go "Ok, I just want to do small films to further my craft as a serious actor". Even in his older interviews in the 80s and early 90s, what he wanted was his name above the marquee. He didn’t have the pretense to consciously choose indie roles; it just happened to work out that way for him. His early roles are littered with attempts to break through the mainstream as a leading man — Chances Are, Air America (which was the film that he really thought was going to do it), Heart and Souls, Only You. And when those didn’t work out, he fell back to the indie supporting roles. He always did.
Robert’s well-aware that a good chunk of his fandom right now are all about Tony Stark; he’s alluded to as much in recent interviews. I would even say that it’s mostly Sherlock Holmes that’s responsible for his fandom, particularly with young women (hell, that’s how I came on board). And it’s inevitable that a lot of the folks who are going nuts for him right now will leave once he’s not Stark anymore. That’s gonna happen. But— you also have to consider that the MCU fandom is quite a bit different from the Pirates one. Robert is associated (and in most cases, the cornerstone) of this unprecedented, ever-expanding cinematic universe, the majority of which is well-received (whereas in Pirates, it stopped being “cool” after the first film). So it’s the same, and yet different. Very different.
Plus, for better or worse, it has pretty much come to a point where the Tony Stark character is inextricably intertwined with the public’s perception of Robert — when he shows up in a premiere, in interviews, his interactions, even his Twitter, etc., people think he’s Tony Stark. Which is a little bit different with the way the public views Jack Sparrow and Johnny.
Oh, lest we forget, Robert struck it gold twice, the other being Sherlock Holmes (which is generally well-received by the public).
So yeah, there are definitely similarities between Johnny and Robert’s trajectories. And given how Johnny’s path has been in the last couple of years (which I never would’ve imagined back in 2008), I am (very) concerned as to how Robert’s path will be.
He’s aware, and I’m almost certain he’s watching Johnny’s track very closely. The idea has always been Robert needs to do smaller films in between the Marvel ones, which he’s beginning to do now. He knows The Judge won’t make bank, they’re not marketing it to make bank at all. Chef is largely a cameo. He’s cooling off a little bit with the franchises — ex. no concrete Sherlock Holmes development, his other potential franchises (Pinocchio, Perry Mason) are on ice, etc.
Also of note, Team Downey’s goal is to make good, small films but that’ll appeal to the general public, so the days of Robert suddenly appearing in a $50K-budgeted film are long gone. Take that as you will. Do I wish he’s making better film selections? Oh yes. But I’m anything if not patient, so I’m thinking that’ll happen. Hopefully.
So again, yes and no.
(P.S. — please message me using your actual account and not this bogey “bilbaat” one. I’d like to at least get an idea on who I’m responding to. Plus, it’s kind of chicken-y. This is a good discussion; follow up with it.)
(P.P.S. — I guess the difference is Johnny’s last four films are big-budgeted misfires, both critically and financially. With Robert, the issue with him is he hasn’t made anything but blockbusters.)
(P.P.P.S — It’s Sherlock Holmes that truly did it for Robert, not Iron Man. If it weren’t for that second franchise, he’d only be a smidge above the likes Evans, Hemsworth, or the other superhero franchise guys.)