Robert Downey Jr & the other Avengers are getting paid massively, don’t worry

Kevin Feige, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo attends The Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Endgame" Cast Place Their Hand Prints In Cement in Los Angeles

SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.

For years now, we’ve known that Robert Downey Jr. has made crazy money from his Marvel contract. RDJ’s contract was full of so many loopholes and backend deals that Marvel was forced to learn from the mistakes in his contract, and every other person who signs a Marvel contract will never, ever make “RDJ money” now. RDJ’s backend on Iron Man and Avengers films is so huge that he’s easily making $75 million or more PER FILM. But what kinds of deals do the rest of the Avengers have? Well… no worries, because they’re still getting paid. Massively.

After 22 movies and more than a decade, the gargantuan Avengers: Endgame was the last roll of the dice — or Infinity Stones, as it were — for several key characters. But figuring out which stars are staying in the fold at Marvel Studios or saying their final farewells isn’t as easy as a Thanos snap of the fingers. (Warning: Spoilers below.)

Take the fate of Scarlett Johansson, aka Black Widow. Her story arc is definitive in Endgame, but the actress who plays the spy heroine will be returning for a 2020 stand-alone film, earning a figure in the $20 million range for both starring and producing. Or Chris Hemsworth, i.e. Thor, who signed with Marvel for five movies in 2010, then renegotiated in 2017 for Infinity War and Endgame, putting himself in the $15 million to $20 million range and ready for the next phase of films. Captain America Chris Evans, who also had a five-picture deal, not including cameos, renegotiated in the same $15 million to $20 million range before meeting his fate in Endgame.

Meanwhile, the face of the franchise, Robert Downey Jr. — Iron Man himself since 2008 — had negotiated a unique financial arrangement with studio chief Kevin Feige that over the years resulted in massive paydays for the actor. Downey receives backend from the Avengers movies: Multiple knowledgeable sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the actor likely walked away from 2018’s Infinity War, which grossed more than $2 billion, with at least $75 million. Even in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, he received $5 million a day for three days’ work.

For other star deals, the math is changing. As the Marvel films have hit new heights at the global box office since Iron Man grossed $585 million worldwide, the studio is said to have raised the threshold for star bonuses. Several years ago, a bonus would kick in after the $500 million global mark, says an agent with insight into the dealmaking process. That threshold later became $700 million. Now, especially for Avengers movies, bonuses don’t kick in until the film hits at least $1.5 billion, this source says. (Marvel and the actors’ reps declined comment.)

[From THR]

Basically, errybody in Endgame is getting a bonus because that film is already making billions of dollars. I’m glad that ScarJo, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are getting paid too – I tend to believe that in Evans and Hemsworth’s cases, that’s why they eventually came around to playing their respective superheroes after feeling so much angst initially.

THR goes on to say that the second-tier Avengers are negotiating their own deals for the Disney+ streaming service miniseries. We know Loki/Tom Hiddleston is getting a series, but so are Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). I imagine they aren’t getting ScarJo or RDJ money, but they will have substantial paychecks… with no backend.



Photos courtesy of Marvel & Avalon Red.

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32 Responses to “Robert Downey Jr & the other Avengers are getting paid massively, don’t worry”

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  1. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Ive never had an issue with RDJ making as much as he did. His film was the one that started it all. And what people forget is what a HUGE gamble that film was. It was not expected to become as big as it did and gross as much as it did. And it was the success of that film that started Marvel on the journey of the Marvel universe and Avengers saga. But I am glad that the original Avengers got paid well. They deserve it. I do however feel sorry for everyone who comes after – like Brie Larson. Who I dont think made anything near that for the first Captain Marvel and I highly doubt that Marvel will wver make another back end deal with one of their stars.

    • Algernon says:

      Brie Larson reportedly got $5 million for Captain Marvel, which is the most any new actor has been paid for their first film. She won’t make RDJ money, because as Kaiser says, Marvel learned from that mistake, but she will undoubtedly make tens of millions of dollars before she is through.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        It goes without saying that Brie will make millions. But she will in all likelihood never make 15-20 for a single film. Tom Hiddleston got paid 8 mil for Infinity War – and he’s only in it for what ten minutes?? That was my point.

      • Veronica S. says:

        Brie Larson is also at the starting end of her A-list career, whereas RDJ already had decades of film behind him proving his capability as an actor who could carry a film alone. It probably gave him significantly more leverage going in. I doubt she’ll ever make his kind of money given the industry, but she’ll be fine in the long run.

      • lucy2 says:

        I haven’t seen Endgame, but if Captain Marvel is able to have a sequel, Brie is in a fantastic position to the big bucks. The first has made $1.1 billion. She should get a hefty raise plus back end if there’s a sequel.

      • SK says:

        @Veronica S. actually RDJ was considered a huge risk when they hired him for Iron Man. Absolutely one of the most talented actors out there – there was no doubt of that; but don’t forget his long battle with drugs and stints in jail. Favreau had to lobby for him, hard. He couldn’t see anyone else in the role.

        Eventually, Marvel reluctantly gave in. RDJ was famously paid less than Terrance Howard for the first film: something like $500,000. He may have had a small back-end deal at that point that raised his overall salary to a guesstimated $2million overall; but he was not making the huge bucks yet.

        It seems they only signed him for the one film though, perhaps because the film and he himself were considered such huge risks. Either that, or he renegotiated. Anyway, for the second film he made $10 million and his back-end percentage either increased significantly or kicked in for the first time. That’s when he started making serious money.

        He also used his power to help out the others. When they were making Age of Ultron, he found out the others were still on relatively measly packages for what the films were earning, and refused to start filming until their salaries were increased. The studio called his bluff and apparently he didn’t show up for the first day of work. So they had to pay the other Avengers + Loki more. It’s one of the many reasons the other cast members love him so much – he really went into bat for them.

        Brie actually made significantly more on her first film than any other Marvel actor before her. However, she will never make RDJ money, because they won’t ever allow back-end deals like his again. They also locked her in for 9 films, instead of the standard 3-5.

        PS: I googled and here is an article about Favreau having to fight to cast RDJ:

  2. Case says:

    RDJ is awesome in this role, but I can’t imagine feeling good about making $75 million for a job. That is so excessive I don’t even know how to wrap my head around it. He is a huge part of Marvel’s success and deserves to be rewarded but like…eek.

    • Harpersghost says:

      $75million is huge, but compared to the full numbers? When the numbers are in the billions, good for him for trying to get as big a chunk as possible, considering how much of a role he played in MCU’s success. And if my performance was the difference between my bosses getting millions or billions? I’d want a much bigger piece of that pie.

      RDJ has been around for so long, I’m sure he’s seen too many actors getting screwed over by studios. It’s nice to see an actor finally get one over on the studios.

    • Becks1 says:

      I say good for him. I know this is blasphemy to many, but to me, he is one of the few in that franchise that is absolutely irreplaceable. Not the only one, but one of the few. he is a huge reason why the movies were so successful – because he was so good in them.

      It’s not like his paycheck is wiping out the budgets for future movies. It’s literally coming from the profits the movies are making. So good for him.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Just to put it in perspective, 75 million is 7.5% of a billion dollars. (And that’s just film revenue.) No worries – plenty of money to go around.

    • lucy2 says:

      It’s bonkers money, but it’s a product everyone wants, and he and the other actors are big parts of that.
      I would hope at least some of them look at it as a chance to do some good in the world. Put aside a chunk so you and your loved ones are set for life, and then start donating, or investing in good things.

  3. Lightpurple says:

    In the beginning, except for RDJ, the MCU was quite stingy, causing some friction with the studio when Evans and Hemsworth learned how much RDJ made off all the backend and bonuses for the first Avengers compared to what they made. Part of the reason RDJ’s initial contract was structured that way was due to the massive risk they were taking on the franchise, nobody believed Feige would pull this off, and the risk they were taking on RDJ himself who was difficult to insure at that time due to his problems.

    It would be interesting to know what kind of deal Edward Norton had and what his pay day would look like had he stayed with Hulk.

    No studio will agree to the type of contract RDJ had with any actor now.

  4. Usedtobe says:

    I feel bad saying this but has any of them in the last 10 years or so had anything successful beyond the Marvel universe?

    • Carol says:

      Have they had time to do much else? I know RDJ made The Judge as a favor to his wife. I think some of the others have done some indie movies. With all the workouts and training they have to do to stay fit, I wonder if they could have signed on to much else. Benedict Cumberbatch has done a lot of theatre, but I don’t think he has had to commit much time to the franchise thus far.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Yes. Scarlett has. But overall I think it’s an unfair assessment. These movie take a good year or more to make. And that’s not including training before filming, reshoots, and press. The only one who has truly had time to do significant other work IS Scarlett. And that’s really because she’s never been the star of any of the films. She hasn’t had a standalone film yet.
      It’s one of the reasons why Chris Evans wanted out of his contract initially and only signed on for two morw films (Infinity War and Endgame). Because they don’t have time to really do a whole lot outside of them. Chris mostly did smaller films that took only a month or two to shoot

    • no no says:

      Evans saw in a play on Broadway I remember, SarJo has flop afer flop just like Chris Hemsy, Renner and Olsen was rather good in Wild River (great indie movie with an award at Cannes). RDJ had Sherlock movies, SLJ is SLJ and was in 100 movies 🙂
      But only few had a good career all this years: S. Stan was in fer good movies (Oscar nom Tonya), Rak Ruffalo was Oscar nom few years ago, Hiddleston has a succes with The Night Manager (Golden Globe) and Kong movie now he has a great play on West End, Aaron Jonhson Taylor get GG too, Chris Pratt is wooden,but had a bunch of hits.
      I think it depends on talent – people who get it can survive outside MCU.

    • Mia4s says:

      Depends on your definition of “success”. The odds of any of them being in something more financially successful than their Marvel movies is basically zero. Same goes for the Star Wars actors (unless they join a Marvel movie, ironically).

      So there have been critically acclaimed movies, financially successful movies, and movies that have made their money back. There have also been horrendous bombs (oh hey Chris Hemsworth!). I think the main lesson is that Marvel didn’t make any of them guaranteed openers. In the right concept it can go well, but the “movie star” is still all but dead.

    • Veronica S. says:

      With the kind of money they’re making, why would you bother unless you absolutely wanted to? RDJ underwent a career renaissance due to the MCU, but I suspect he’ll likely be more relaxed in the next few years. He’s getting old enough that unless the passion is still there, retirement is more interesting. Or at least, only taking roles he finds personally interesting.

    • lucy2 says:

      Hemsworth can’t open a non-Marvel movies to save his life, and Evans hasn’t done much besides Marvel, but the others seem fine. Ruffalo still does some smaller indie stuff, Scarlett’s worked pretty steadily on other stuff too, and Renner has done a number of critically acclaimed dramas like Arrival and Wind River.

  5. no no says:

    Apparently Hiddleston get 8milions for Infinity War, so I think all actors are good 🙂 After first 2-3 movies, they all renegotiated contracts. They all made a bunch of money.

    And Disney plus series will have a budget around 100 – 120 mln each, so Olsen, Renner, Hiddleston, Bethany, Stan will earn a lot.

  6. Carol says:

    I think I’d feel weird about it until the film grossed $1 billion, and then I’d pick some charities and be okay. I am reminded of when the TPTB of Friends tried to shame the actors for making $1 million per episode, but now you think it’s decades later and the show is on so many channels all the time. Suddenly the paycheck seems reasonable in perspective.

    • lucy2 says:

      They got shamed for $100,000 an episode too! They were smart to stick together and know their worth as a unit. That show has raked in so much money over the years.

  7. Incredulous says:

    RDJ has Tony Stark money? Good for him.

  8. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Any time a successful family film really hits, I imagine major payouts. Maybe not Nicholson’s Batman or RDJ’s Ironman kind of bank, but family movies earn the bucks.

    I just really never wanna see Captain America again. Ugh, can’t stand him. That character registers as heavy on the hate scale as Mary Poppins. They should get married. Of course my youngest had a CA phase.

  9. Nancypants says:

    Well, I don’t know what RD Jr’s financial situation is and it’s none of my business.
    Maybe he wants to retire very soon.
    Maybe he does give a lot of money to charities.
    I’m just so happy AND SURPRISED that he went from crazy drug addict and convict to hot, successful family man.
    I didn’t think he’d make it.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Sherlock.

    • Mia4s says:

      Somewhere I was reading pointed out that RDJ basically ended up where we thought for quite awhile Johnny Depp would. I really sincerely hope RDJ stays well and healthy because I imagine he makes a lot of troubled people feel optimistic.

      Conservative estimates say he is worth around $300 million (it will definitely be more now). Another advantage he has over Depp (and Nicholas Cage I would add) is a very business savvy wife. They live a luxurious life, but one within their means.

    • Caty says:

      No, he doesn’t want to retire. He wants to keep making obscene amounts of money for crappy movies (see the upcoming Dr. DooLittle which is a hot mess).

    • HELEN says:

      “SURPRISED that he went from crazy drug addict and convict to hot, successful family man.
      I didn’t think he’d make it.”

      seriously. it’s extremely difficult to maintain sobriety and keep from wrecking your life, over and over again. all the resources at his disposition helped, of course. but i think it’s his wife that made all the difference. the stability and guidance she provided – he might not be around, let alone be this successful, if it wasn’t for her. and he sure knows it.

      • HELEN says:

        that said, i’m appalled that a single person can accumulate this kind of money. obscene and immoral.

  10. Caty says:

    Cool. Don’t care about any of them. Go away.

    • Karen2 says:

      Lol. Agree. Not once did I worry about the amount of cash any of them were earning. Not much acting is involved either. I begin to understand why the Academy rewards niche movies.

  11. Alyse says:

    I’m glad Scarlett could sort that figure (though of course a female has to produce as well to get in the same$$ range as a man…)
    Black Widow has always been a MVP Avenger in my eyes