Variety has put together a list of various actors' salaries as part of an analysis of the declining value of star power: whereas one-time A-listers like Julia Roberts, Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks and Will Smith used to collect paychecks of $20 million or more, along with generous chunks of profit participation, those days are mostly gone.
But some of today's stars can still command exorbitant salaries, depending on the project, such as Vin Diesel (if he's doing a Fast and Furious movie) or Dwayne Johnson (in, uh, anything). And in the case of Robert Downey Jr., he got $10 million for playing Tony Stark/Iron Man in last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming.
That perhaps sounds like a reasonable enough fee — until you take into consideration the fact that Stark appears in the film for approximately nine minutes, which means that Downey got paid a bit over $1.1 million per minute he's in the movie (including just his voice).
That's a lot of money, but it points to how valuable the presence of Downey — who's collected hundreds of millions throughout his 10-year history with Marvel — is within the franchise.
After all, it was Iron Man that kicked off the MCU's box office reign a decade ago, and five of the films he's appeared in — all three Avengers entries, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Civil War — have cleared well over $1 billion each at the box office. The actor was listed as the highest paid thespian in the world in 2015, collecting a rumored $50 million for Avengers: Age of Ultron and a reported $40 million for Civil War — and one could easily make the arguement, based on the returns, that he was worth every penny.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a reboot of the title character after the previous two Amazing Spider-Man films struggled to gain traction with the public, and it's not out of bounds to suggest that the Downey/Stark aspect of the movie helped Homecoming regain Spidey's box office footing.
There are some salaries on the Variety list that are higher: Johnson, for example, is getting $22 million for an upcoming film called Red Notice, while Daniel Craig is taking down $25 million for his final turn as James Bond (coming in 2019). Jennifer Lawrence just got $15 million for Red Sparrow, while Tom Cruise got somewhere between $11 million and $13 million for The Mummy.
But in each of those cases — or even, say, Downey's fellow MCU hero Chris Pratt getting $10 million for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — the actor is going to spend a lot more time on the set and on the screen, in some cases almost the entire length of the film. For RDJ, he needed less than 10 minutes to earn his $10 million — and with Homecoming earning almost $900 million worldwide, we doubt anyone at Marvel or Sony would say he wasn't worth it.