The Avengers has already crossed the $1 billion mark at the box office and is forcing its way up the top ten highest grossing movies of all-time. Obviously Marvel and Disney are making astronomical profits from the film with many more millions to come, but what about the film’s stars?
Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson are reported to have made anywhere between $2 million and $6 million for their work in The Avengers, plus small bonuses. Robert Downey Jr., however, made more. A lot more.
Marvel has a history for being especially tight with the wallet when it comes to paying the stars of feature films based on Marvel Comics properties. Terence Howard, who co-starred in Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr., was the highest paid actors in that film despite bigger names such as Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow and, of course, Downey Jr. He ultimately was not brought back for Iron Man 2 due to that contract, and the learning experience from it has reverberated down through the ranks.
Rumors also swirled around the Internet regarding Samuel L. Jackson’s difficult negotiations with Marvel regarding his paycheck for every appearance as Nick Fury, no matter its size or importance. At one time it looked as if Jackson might not sign with Marvel after his Iron Man cameo, but thankfully that was worked out. It also took Mickey Rourke several months of negotiations before he landed a deal to appear in Iron Man 2.
When Iron Man became a box office sensation in 2008 because of Robert Downey Jr. and not its highest paid actor Terence Howard, Downey Jr.’s agent and lawyers renegotiated a deal with Marvel that would pay him a set fee for every appearance as Tony Stark or Iron Man, plus a percentage of Marvel’s movie revenue. One source at The Hollywood Reporter claims that percentage is between 5 and 7 percent, while another one refutes those numbers.
Performing a little simple math, Robert Downey Jr. is in line to earn upward of $50 million or more for his work in The Avengers, or about 10 times more than his superhero co-stars. Another huge payday awaits with the release of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 next May.