There's no doubt Robert Downey Jr.'s the perfect choice to play Tony Stark. He's got the look, he's got the style, he's got the playboy flair. And now, thanks to a massive Marvel deal that puts his Avengers co-stars' salaries to shame, he's getting closer to having the Tony Stark bank account.
So how much is Downey raking in on this billion-dollar flick? According to "multiple knowledgeable sources," he could end up with somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million. Yes, you read it right. Fifty million dollars. For one movie. As for the rest of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo will reportedly earn $2-3 million each, while Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson used their somewhat bigger names to rake in somewhere in the $4-6 million range. That's a lot of money, but those paydays look like loose change compared to Downey's earnings.
So why does Tony Stark get so much more? Well, after Iron Man became a surprisingly lucrative hit for Marvel, Downey's reps renegotiated his deal to include box-office bonuses and a piece of Marvel's earnings on every film of theirs that he appears in. That's rumored to be somewhere in the 5 to 7 percent range. And when you're in a film that earns a billion dollars worldwide in less than three weeks, that's bound to be a pretty big chunk of cash.
Downey's not alone in this kind of super-payout. Johnny Depp is estimated to have pulled in a combined $250 million for his work on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and it's been reported that Michael Bay raked in $80 million for the first Transformers film alone, perhaps more for the sequels. For Downey, this could only be the beginning, with Iron Man 3 on the way and the inevitable Avengers sequel in the works.
One of the ways Marvel was able to make this particular flick happen was by tightly controlling the salaries of its stars to keep costs low. The lone exception to that was Downey, but now that his payout has swelled so much, two questions arise. One, will Marvel decide someday soon that keeping him around is too costly? And two, how soon will the other Avengers come looking for similar deals?