Cumberbatch Vs Downey Jr.,: Who is the better Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock Holmes, a private detective, who is proficient in observation, deduction, logical reasoning and forensic science, is mostly found investigating and solving a wide variety of cases, even assisting Scotland Yard. Being a fictional character he has a distinctive record to his name. Guinness World Record has listed him as the most portrayed character in film or television industry.

Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887 novel “A Study in Scarlet”, Holmes has more than 25000 stage adaptations and 254 screen appearances with more than 75 actors portraying the character. Recently, Henry Cavill has been cast as the detective in the upcoming Netflix movie “Enola Holmes” based on the novel of the same name by Nancy Springer.

In this post, let’s discuss the two actors – Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr., who have adorned the Sherlock Holmes hat in their unique way. Benedict Cumberbatch has been playing Sherlock Holmes in the British TV series “Sherlock” from 2010, whereas Robert Downey Jr., played the character in 2009 movie “Sherlock Holmes” and reprised the role in 2011 movie “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”.

Both the adaptations and portrayals are noteworthy and exceptional in their own way. With both the character portrayals having their own positives and negatives, which one is the better?

Being a TV series, “Sherlock” has the advantage of freedom and time where so much can be shown in an entire season. Sherlock Holmes is seen in the modern times completely different from what the books had to offer. Each and every episode is captivating and Cumberbatch can be seen solving crimes with the use of technologies such as Internet and GPS. But, in the case of Downey Jr., movies have their limitations of 150 minutes to build up the story which is set in the olden times similar to the novels.

Holmes has the skill to always be few steps ahead of his contemporaries at all times. He has an extensive self taught knowledge in criminology giving him the greatest advantage while solving crimes. Both the actors had done justice to this, however, according to the novels, Sherlock always holds back his thoughts and reveals them only at the climax. This was evident in the movies, though it could get little annoying when you see him make some deductions without any explanations at the spot.

Sherlock is a cocaine addict and he uses drugs to clear his mind and straighten his thought process. This was not portrayed properly in either of the adaptations with very little glimpse in each of them. In one of the episodes, Cumberbatch’s character is seen losing his cool which is not something expected of Holmes.

It is widely known that intelligent people have very poor social skills. Holmes being very intelligent knows every human behavior and disdains from friendly talk and exchanging pleasantries. Cumberbatch may not have done it perfectly, but it was way better than Downey Jr.’s Holmes, who has a comedic side to him.

Sherlock plays violin very frequently and this was portrayed excellently by Cumberbatch whereas this concept was completely ignored in the movies.

Holmes is also an amateur boxer who is adept at bare knuckle fights. This was shown fantastically in the movie “Sherlock Holmes” in 2009. In the TV series adaptation, it was completely ignored.

Having said that, the TV adaptations of Holmes is refreshing and modern according to the changing times. Cumberbatch’s Holmes relates closely to the character described by Arthur Conan Doyle in his novels, while Downey Jr.’s Holmes looks more like an action hero than a consultant detective.

Who do you think is better among these two? If you feel other actors are better than Benedict or Robert, please leave a comment below.

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