A photograph from Ben Stiller's new action comedy Tropic Thunder hit the Web today featuring Robert Downey Jr. in blackface - a brave move considering the gag hasn't gone over so well in the past.

The film, which Stiller also cowrote and directed, is a Hollywood satire that takes aim at actors such as Downey Jr.'s Kirk Lazarus, a serious, Oscar-winning actor cast in an Apocalypse Now-like Vietnam War flick. When his character learns the role was written for a black man, Lazarus simply dyes his skin to continue production.

It's no secret that controversy often helps fuel box office returns, but Stiller is playing it safe by screening rough cuts for African-American audiences to gauge their responses, Entertainment Weekly reports. So far, responses have been positive, and Downey Jr. insists the storyline is purely comical and different from movies that have featured blackface in the past. "If I didn't feel it was morally sound or that it would be easily misinterpreted that I'm just C. Thomas Howell in [ Soul Man], I would've stayed home," he told EW.

Even so, do you think the film will be offensive? - Adam Bryant