'Avengers' Cast And Stingy Marvel Ready To Rumble Over Sequel Cash & Strong-Arming

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Downey Jr is set for another huge payday from a mega-hit Marvel movie, this time Iron Man 3. I’ve learned he’s already made $35 million from the actioner, which grossed $680 million worldwide in its first 12 days. He should exceed his biggest payday to date — that $50M from The Avengers which I’ve learned was more like $70M-$80M now that the film is all in. But it’s really Avengers 2 where he’ll clean up big-time — if he wants to reprise the role. He’s hinting to some media it may be time to retire Tony Stark. And saying to other outlets that Marvel better show him more money for Avengers 2. “I don’t know,” he said on The Daily Show. “I had a long contract with them and now we’re gonna renegotiate.” (“You are Iron Man! You are!” cheered Jon Stewart.) I’ve learned that Marvel and therefore owner Disney are going to run into big trouble on that sequel because the upfront pay, backend compensation, break-even points and box office bonuses aren’t pinned down yet for several big stars and castmates. This is major hurdle that Walt Disney Co Chaiman/CEO Bob Iger hasn’t even mentioned to Wall Street or shareholders though he’s already been hyping Avengers 2 for more than a year now.

First and foremost Marvel does not have Downey in place yet. “They need him, and they don’t have him. He’s got a lot of leverage,” one insider tells me. Much less so Scarlett Johannsen (paid to pop up in Marvel movie after movie), Chris Evans (whom some sources say made his deal for Avengers 2 when he signed for Captain America 2), Chris Hemsworth (a much bigger star now than before and unsigned for Avengers 2), Mark Ruffalo (whose Hulk role already was cast 3 times and could be the most vulnerable), Jeremy Renner (probably grateful for more exposure), Samuel L. Jackson (Scarlett’s doppelganger) among others who were paid pittances for their first movies, not much better for the sequels, and are counting on at least $5 million upfront and better back ends for Avengers 2. That means much better than what Marvel claimed was Avengers’ break-even point: a whopping $1.1 billion in global grosses. (“If Avengers wasn’t profitable until then, why would you make it?” one rep pointedly asked Marvel top execs Kevin Feige and Louis Esposito.) In a business where studio accounting is known as fatal subtraction and even worldwide blockbusters are still supposedly in the red, Marvel and its famously frugal CEO Ike Perlmutter still give new meaning to the term stingy. I’ve learned that one reason why The Avengers was nominated for only one Oscar – Best Visual Effects – in the 85th Academy Awards contest was because Marvel refused to pay for an awards season campaign for the picture. And even when Disney offered to foot the bill, Marvel still wouldn’t budge. (Yet the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences assembled the cast onstage to create buzz.) Here’s how one exec describes any negotiation with Marvel: “I wouldn’t say it’s brutal. It’s uncompromising, not mean or draconian. The fact is this is the reality of the world we’re living in right now.”

Related: Disney And Marvel Do Damage Control After Media Scrutiny Of Ike Perlmutter

But The Avengers cast are ready to rumble with Marvel for the Avengers sequel slated for a May 2015 release. “Some received only $200,000 for Avengers and Downey got paid $50M. On what planet is that OK?” an insider tells me. CAA represents an overwhelming majority of the Marvel stars and is trying hard to keep the negotiations out of the public limelight and media headlines. But that may not be possible with some reps blaming the studio for ‘scorched earth’ tactics past and present. “Marvel has created so much animosity by strong-arming and bullying on sequels already. It’s counterproductive,” one source tells me. Says another, “I’m sick of Kevin Feige telling me again and again how Marvel is ‘reinventing the movie business’. It doesn’t work like this. They’re reinventing business, period.” I’ve learned Marvel already has threatened to sue or recast when contracts and/or options are challenged. That prompted a few cast members to respond, “Go ahead.” I hear Hemsworth especially wasn’t anxious to go back into that arduous diet and training regimen and subsist primarily on egg whites for Thor: Dark World which hits theaters November 8th. I also understand that Scarlett Johanssen told castmates she’s “not going to cut her quote” for Marvel’s Avengers 2. The actress as butt-kicking operative Black Widow in The Avengers and Iron Man 2 is wrapping Captain America: The Winter Soldier and has a whopping 8 options total.

Already a lot of brinkmanship played out for Captain America 2 and Thor 2. Calling it the “weirdest experience”, one rep still can';t believe Marvel offered “only a $500,000 raise and then would pay another $500,000 when the movie hits $500M. Are they out of their minds?” When it was pointed out to Marvel that Hemsworth already had received $5M for his starring role in Snow White And The Huntsman, the studio shot back, “I don’t know why you’re complaining when Marvel only has hit movies.” To which the response was, “He’s happier working at a place like Universal.” After hard-fought bargaining, Chris Evans for Captain America 2 and Chris Hemsworth for Thor 2 wound up with deals still weighted on the back end but at least with attainable break-even numbers and small upfront guarantees and box office bonuses.

The issue going forward is how many of the Avengers stars and starlets are still bound by early agreements and longterm options which Marvel can continue to exploit individually. To counter, I’ve learned the Avengers cast are becoming united behind Robert Downey Jr who is seen as the “leader” – like “a big brother” in the words of one rep – for all the younger actors in the ensemble. “He’s the only guy with real power in this situation. and balls of steel, too. He’s already sent a message that he’s not going to work for a place where they treat his colleagues like shit,” one source explains. Another rep tells me, “I have four words for Marvel – ‘Fuck you, call Robert.'” As Downey himself has said publicly about his $50M-plus payday, “I’m what’s known as a strategic cost,” adding that Marvel is “so pissed” he earned that much. At this point also, no one is talking Iron Man 4 yet but it’s hard not to anticipate. Don Cheadle (who took over the role of James Rhodes in Iron Man 2 after Marvel pushed aside Terrence Howard) predicted there’s “potential” for a 4th installment. “No one has been specific about what that might look like or what the story could even be,” he said. “First we have to see how this one plays and if people have an appetite for it, and then we’ll figure out if there’s a way to convince Robert to come back and do another one.”

Some reps tried to go straight to Iger in hopes of discussing renegotiations since Disney purchased the multimedia empire in 2009 for $4.3B – but were rebuffed. “Wait, that’s Marvel. You need to talk to them. I can’t have this conversation,” Iger replied, thus totally distancing himself. Other reps hoped Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn would be helpful. But Horn made clear that Marvel greenlights their own movies and only “coordinates” with him. Besides, he tells reps, “Marvel is doing such a great job running itself.” (In fact Horn himself only met Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter last fall and told a pal about their get-together. “It could not have gone better. We had a meal. I was very impressed with his directness. We’re the same age: how could we not have a good time together?”)

The sad truth is that both Iger and Horn are scared stiff of Perlmutter and want to steer clear of the inevitable nightmare negotiations. Reps predict Ike is “going to create a lot of drama and going to want to prove a point and not look like he’s going to get run over”. Says one out of frustration: “I’m so bent out of shape by this asshole. He now works for a public company so I don’t understand how he can keep hiding behind the curtain.” Easy, because the Israeli-born and reclusive Perlmutter, worth $2.4B, is Disney’s third largest individual shareholder. (He had been the second biggest shareholder but that changed when Disney added Star Wars to its empire and handed George Lucas a ginormous compensation package. Disney’s top shareholder remains the Steve Jobs Trust.) Disney never dared hope that The Avengers would reap $1.5 billion in worldwide box office revenue, the third highest global gross ever. Yet no castmember has ever heard from Ike. True, Kevin Feige phoned the cast that weekend opening, but it was a first. And Iger did pick up the phone to congratulate filmmaker Joss Whedon who recalled to Deadline recently: “He couldn’t have been sweeter. He said ‘This wasn’t about the other movies — you did this’.”

Acknowledging “I’m doing okay” compensation wise, Whedon reportedly has a “really rich deal” worth an astronomical $100M for a combination of product and services including several pics, consulting work, a put pilot at ABC, and many other elements that effectively take him off the marketplace for years and years, one source tells me. But even Whedon admits that “Marvel can be very cheap” and believes the reason the cast aren’t “getting giant quotes” is because of “the element of the opportunity here for something that is both popular and very human, and usually you have to choose as an actor”. But Whedon does see the potential contract hardball as “an issue”.

Here are the pertinent parts of that interview:

DEADLINE: Marvel is notoriously cheap and some of the Avengers cast will want more money for the sequel. How could that affect Avengers 2?
WHEDON: I’m not going to comment specifically because I’m not privy to that sort of stuff and I don’t think it’s my place to talk about. In general terms, yes – Marvel can be very cheap, God knows. They can also be sensible and frugal. They have a very small infrastructure and they’re not heaping this money on themselves. I don’t know a producer who’s done more and is paid less than Kevin Feige. I think that it’s an issue but it’s part of a bigger issue, which is there was a time when there was a crisis in the acting community where stars were getting $20 million and character actors were disappearing as a concept. There were no middle class actors. It was suddenly bit players and Jim Carrey, and that was it. Now the studios have gotten to a point where they’re like, “Do we need that star?” With what they’re able to to digitally and the way they create franchises there’s a little bit of a feeling of, maybe we can eliminate the actor – not totally and not totally cynically, but I’ve literally heard people at the agency say, not about Marvel, “This studio is eliminating the middle movie. They’re not making dramas or prestige pics or anything that isn’t either a franchise or a Paranormal-style found footage”. I think that changes the landscape for actors because really good actors are interested in doing a franchise because they need something.

DEADLINE: So are you worried about losing talent over these kinds of disputes?
WHEDON: I feel good about Avengers because I feel everyone who took it got something to sink their teeth into. They weren’t hung out to dry. It’s not a soulless piece of work. It may be inept in some places but I meant every word. Marvel distinguished themselves by going after good actors, writers, and directors who were unexpected choices. One side to that is they don’t have to pay them as much. Me, [Jon] Favreau, [Kenneth] Branagh, James Gunn – we don’t have giant action quotes, but we’re all filmmakers who want to do something with a giant action movie instead of just accomplish it. And the actors, from Downey straight on through, they only went after the people who could get it done. So how come they’re not getting giant quotes on this movie? There’s the element of the opportunity here for something that is both popular and very human, and usually you have to choose as an actor.

DEADLINE: A movie makes a billion dollars and an actor is looking at their contract for the next sequel…
WHEDON: And they’re probably going to mention that.

DEADLINE: You don’t think this could conceivably create any problems for Avengers 2?
WHEDON: I don’t, because that would make me sad and I tend to be a bit Pollyanna. I tend to think these roles can alter the course of a career. Not that Mark Ruffalo needs this or is in pursuit of this. That man will always work. But it doesn’t suck. We had an amazing time making the movie and that kind of recognition doesn’t hurt, if it’s not with Marvel or the next guy. It’s useful.

  1. All of them are replaceable…

    I couldn’t even tell you who played Thor, Hulk or Hawkeye.

    1. yeah i can see how you could forget who played, the hulk… he was only the best actor in the entire franchise.

          1. I know I’m in the minority, but the only thing I liked about the movie were Downey’s snarky lines directed at the other characters during the non-action scenes. The last half hour felt like I was watching somebody else play a video game.

        1. This is the mentality Marvel has been pushing since the 60s. This is the reason Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and countless other creators got screwed over. Good job.

          1. It is very difficult to make a “bad” movie these days as the ratio action to acting is nearly all CGi but as someone whose has got most of the original comic I find it very sad that no one seems to have read them and just rely on generalities.
            The wealth of material that Marvel and the fantastic artist they had and most of the stories and characters would make such brilliant films but all of the superhero movies if looked at impartially were rubbish!

            The Avengers well Josh Wheedon put together the best so far because I feel he at least had read and understood the core of what Marvel was trying to achieve but money is the driving factor and if these idiots who control the budgets would get someone to actually read the Comics they would make double what they have taken and for much longer.
            ( How was it possible to mess up Green Lantern?
            How could they destroy the Fantastic Four? everything before was rubbish…Look what the did to the X-Men for goodness sake
            How could the best character which would have opened up so many possibilities for more movies Galactus be a CLOUD of Smoke)

            So sad!

          2. True. I don’t know how badly Kirby and the creators got screwed but it sounds nasty. But the comic artists at Marvel these days are doing pretty good, aren’t they? Keeping costs down on the films sounds sensible, some of those paychecks can get obscenely bloated. But if they really wont give the actors a percentage of massive success like they at least gave Downey, then yeah, they are cheapo.

        2. If that were true then Marvel would have managed to create a good Captain America or Avengers movie thirty years ago.

          1. I disagree. For the same reason Avatar wasn’t made in 1994. The technology wasn’t there and now it is.

        3. But it’s the actors who bring the characters to life. Honestly I haven’t liked a lot of comic book movies, generally because the writing and acting tend to be shallow. Not so for the movies Marvel has been putting out lately. Replace the actors and it wouldn’t be nearly so good.

        4. You’re Right, But if you have an actor than can’t play his role right then it would just be shitty don’t you think?

        5. I think you work for Marvel, if Marvel change the actors it will be a Blow on their plans to make Avengers 2, Iron Man 4 and others sequels.

    2. Replaceable? Right because the stars of the record breaking film franchise are replaceable? Stan Lee himself has said that he couldn’t see anyone else but RDJ playing Tony Stark, Mark Ruffalo is by far the best Hulk/Bruce Banner to date, Chris Evans is the epitome of Captain America, you just look at Chris Hemsworth and he screams Thor, Jeremy Renner pulls off Hawkeye with flair and perfection that fits the ex-carney us comic fans have seen, Scarlett Johansson commands the role of Black Widow perfectly, even Tom Hiddleston as Loki is perfect. Marvel is choosing it’s casts well and making it’s movies full of people that fit the roles that we see in the comics. As a comic book fan, I am extremely happy with the Marvel franchise and the casts and I’m personally disappointed that such a record breaking cast is not recieving the compensation they deserve for doing these roles.

      1. All are replaceable but Downey. He’s the one who made it his opwn and created something unique. Downey is irreplaceable. Although even James Bond went on without Sean Connery.

        (renner’s hawkeye has nothing in common with the Hawkeye who is an ex carnie)

        1. Downey Jr. clearly owns the role of Stark but I wouldn’t say there’s anything unique about it. If by unique, you mean RDJ finally found the right role to play himself, then sure.

        2. If you think Iron Man 4 starring Wes Bentley or any other random serviceable actor won’t make AT LEAST $600 million dollars on the Iron Man name alone, you’re sorely mistaken.

          1. Eventually Iron Man will be recast but Wes or any other actor who takes on the roll of Stark will not see the success that RDJ has made from the role. No other actor besides RDJ can do for Iron Man what Chistian Bale did for Batman.

          2. Who’s Wes Benton? ;)

            I would have to say “No, people expect to see RDJ as Tony Stark, as least for this series of interrelated movies.” Remove RDJ and you immediately lose the likability people have with him for the role.

          3. And yeah, before anyone rings in on me about it, I know his name’s “Wes Bentley”–that’s my point. He’s not a widely-known name. Certainly not to the point where you can just merely use his initials and even Google knows, as with RDJ.

      2. Never mind the cast…the creators of these great characters (other than Stan Lee) were never compensated for their creations. The least Marvel could do is give the families of Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Steve Ditko, Joe SImon et. al something for their massive contributions. But as a comic book fan you know this already, right Tristan Curtis?.

        The reality is that all of these movies would make loads of money regardless of who is directing or acting (Downey excepted) because the characters were so well defined by all of the great comic creators in the Sixties. I keep hoping that a true fan of the characters will somehow come in and run things at Marvel or Disney instead of these empty suits who only care about the bottom line.

        Not holding my breath on that one…

      3. What is wrong with you? Robert Downey Jr. is the best superhero actor of all time! No one could have played the role better!!!!!

      4. Well said. But IMO Jeremy & Scarlet are not that bad, but I would be okay without them.

      5. Renner pulls it off with “flair & perfection” jesus go away. Renner is amazing, but wasn’t allowed to play that to perfection, not by a long shot. pretty sure he would agree.

      6. Absolutely! I started reading Iron Man in 1968 and RDJ IS Tony Stark…He just IS…Ruffalo IS Banner, period! The casting is perfect, the actors deserve to be paid, and if you don’t believe studios are greedy and stingy, do a little research on the studio system in the “golden era” of Hollywood…

      7. Deserve?

        Nobody deserves this much money for playing make believe for a few months.

        Nobody.

      8. Replacing Thor and Cap, finding other actors to be even nearly as right in those roles seems very difficult. And even if they do I’m pretty sure new actors in those roles would alienate and affect the good feeling for this whole Marvel-movieverse. Replacing was jarring even with Warmachine. On the other hand,I sure wouldn’t mind them finding a real warrior-woman for Black Widow. Miss Scarlett is a very cute puppydog but about as menacing as a poodle.

    3. What a bunch of cheap basterds! marvel should have been reprimanded after the way they
      Terribly treated “Terrance Howard”. Since according to “Ike Perlmutter”, ” it doesn’t matter
      If we get rid of Howard Becuase all Black men look the same”. marvel has been scabing actors
      For years and then wonders why so many in Hollywood no longer want to work with them.

    4. Spiderman grossed over $700M worldwide with a relatively unknown actor on a remaake that was probably several years too early.

        1. i think he was making a point about rebooting iron man and it working, not marvel exclusively.

      1. Yeah, but even my 52-year-old mother goes to see Iron Man movies for Robert Downey Jr., as well as my comic-book-fanatic friends. RDJ appeals to both long-time comic fans and casual moviegoers alike. Unlike RDJ with Tony Stark, Spider-Man/Peter Parker has never has an actor that truly took away the role and made it theirs to the point that people can’t unsee the role belonging to the actor now (while they have the role, at least). You say “Iron Man” and an image of RDJ’s face will most likely be among the first things you and millions others will think of.

    5. Your proclaiming the lack of knowledge of a subject is not an adequate attack of that subject. It only reveals your limited information to draw from.

    6. I know I’m in the minority, but the only thing I liked about the movie were Downey’s snarky lines directed at the other characters during the non-action scenes. The last half hour felt like I was watching somebody else play a video game.

    7. RDJ makes most of his films very entertaining. Can’t say that about the rest of the cast who are replaceable. None of general public can even name the others outside sam jack and probably Scarlett J perhaps.

  2. Robert Downey jr now sets a record as the first actor to play a comic book Superhero 5 times in the movies. He passes Christopher Reeve who played Superman Four Times.

    The record for an actor playing a comic STRIP character in films is tied by 3 Actors – all from the BLONDIE series. Arthur Lake (Dagwood), Penny singleton (Blondie) and Larry Sims (Alexander – “Baby Dumpling”) were in all 28 films from 1938-1950 (And also played the parts on Radio as well!)

      1. Wolverine has 5 movies released TO DATE after the new one he’ll be tied with RDJ (people forget that he cameo’d in X-men first class)but if your counting cameo’s then RDJ still has the lead due to post credit scenes in other marvel movies bringing him to 6…to date

        1. But that’s not true. RDJ has appeared in Iron Man 1,2,3, Avengers, and Incredible Hulk (5 movies). Hugh has been in Xmen 1,2,3, Wolverine, First Class, and now Wolverine 2 (6 movies). Next year Hugh will bring it up to 7.

    1. Nope. Hugh Jackman beat him to it two years ago, and the two are now tied.

      As of Iron Man 3 (2013), RDJ has four starring roles and one cameo.

      As of X-Men: First Class (2011), Jackman has four starring roles and one cameo.

      The difference is, by the time RDJ makes his next appearance as Iron Man (assuming he does) Jackman will be ahead by two starring appearances. (Coming this summer and next.)

      1. And even then, if you count Nick Fury as a ‘Superhero’ then they’re both also tied with Sam Jackson, who made his fifth appearance as the character in last year’s Avengers. (Even though they’re mostly cameos.)

        So Robert is technically third to the party.

        1. Are you sure about Jackson? He had a cameo in Iron Man and Captain America and a supporting role in Iron Man 2 and Avengers. That brings him up to four appearances in total.

        2. And what about Phil Coulson? He don’t get no respect. Count up his movies and shorts. He’s already up to six.

      2. Well we could always go on good movies and take away X-men 3 and Wolverine from Hugh then take away Iron man 2 from RDJ. That would put him back in the lead for good movies as a comic superhero.

    2. How much did Christian Bale get for playing Batman in the Dark Knight Trilogy? I know Warner Brothers isn’t as cheap as Marvel obviously is.

      1. It would make sense for WB to be less stingy than Marvel. Bale would have been the only lead in a SUCCESSFUL DC franchise.

  3. So we’ve reached the point where an actor won’t show up for less than $50 million. Unbelievable. I guess Downey quickly forgot how stone cold his career was before Iron man? And LMAO if Evans and Hemsworth think they aren’t replaceable, they’ll be outta there faster than you can say Edward Norton. Marvel is probably on the phone with Ryan Gosling and Charlie Hunnam already…

    1. So I guess you’re still working for minimum wage when your employer is depending on you for his profit and making millions? Really?

      When Actors are so key to a film doing well in the BO, that’s when they should have that clout. All Actors are replaceable? I guess we’ll see if they don’t have anyone but Downey. No, wait. He said he wouldn’t play either if his co-stars aren’t treated well. So much for the ‘egotistical actor’ fromerly known as…

      1. That’s ridiculous. Downey isn’t showing up for $50 million, he’s getting $50 million because his deal was structured to receive a percentage of box office profits rather than a base salary. And this only happened because Marvel saw him as a liability due to his troubled past. He didn’t ask for $50 million, he just got it because the movies do well and he was lucky enough to get that contract to begin with. Would you give that up once you had it?

      1. If that’s sarcasm, then heh. But if not, worth noting that Ryan Gosling got his start in the industry as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, etc.

    2. So you must have forgotten the blockbuster Sherlock Holmes movies that came out before Iron Man huh ? Both of those movies also made a ton of money !!

      1. Ummm… Check your facts. Iron Man came out in 2008, and the first Sherlock Holmes came out in 2009. I don’t care who plays the characters in the Avengers. I’m a fan of the comics, so I’ll watch it no matter who it is.

    3. Why shouldn’t the actors get more money when they’re making pittances compared to the studio’s cut? Downey is a HUGE reason behind Marvel’s success, he deserves to be well-compensated.

  4. So basically Joss Whedon is happy to collect his $100 million paycheck but not support his cast in their goal to get fairly compensated for one of the biggest franchises in history? It’s an opportunity for them to do something both commercial and good quality? What does that have to do with being stingy with the profits?

    1. You can’t really compare his salary to the actors though. He has a 3 year exclusive deal where he can’t do any other projects while the actors only spend about 2-4 months on set I’d guess. Not saying they don’t deserve better compensation, only that they aren’t really comparable.

    2. Whedon’s being diplomatic. He’s already working for Marvel and he is already under contract/obligation. If he’s not freaking out, I see no need for anyone else to. This is hype; they have a great ensemble. And just remember: RDJ and Tony Stark are basically the same person…and this is pretty much what Tony Stark would do for his fellow Avengers ;)

  5. first time i’ve commented in awhile but wow that is some first rate detailed information — what a great read — very impressive work, thanks a lot!

  6. Marvel is notoriously cheap. I’ve heard that even VPs need permission to print something out in color.

    1. It’s Ike Perlmutter who’s cheap, almost pathologically so. There are some great anecdotes about him in Sean Howe’s book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.

  7. Count me in…. I’d like to strong-arm all of them for my $13.00 back. The entire “Mandarin” storyline was laughable. As in, I laughed out loud in a quiet theater it was so dumb. Soooooo disappointed…. expected a lot more from Shane.

    1. Iron Man 3 is the best movie to date including Avengers!!!!Some people are just that clueless…

    2. But… the reveal was played for laughs. So if you laughed it’s because you were supposed to.

      1. So le epic funny! Le Marvel make great movies cause they are so le epic! AND FUNNY!…riiiiiight. Because that’s what superheroes are made of.

  8. Marvel’s been doing this crap for years. Their focus is on the characters created by Stan, Jack, and Steve (who they also ripped off). Ask the Image Seven about how Marvel compendsates the artists who bring their characters to life. Read up on how Marvel treated Jack Kirby. This isn’t news. This is standard operating procedure for the Mighty Marvel.

  9. Been waiting for this story. Almost driving off Samuel L Jackson and Mickey Rourke with low ball offers in the past is small potatoes to what’s coming going forward.

  10. This is nothing new, Marvel have been happy to recast in the past but I think that will work less well this time, they pretty much cannot get rid of Downey. Johansson can be replaced with virtually anybody, the character is worthless and she brings nothing to it, any number of actually useful superheroines could have been there instead. When the superhuman Captain America is useless in your final battle, a tiny woman ninja-ing aliens just looks ridiculous. Evans could probably be replaced to, Hemsworth is doing well recognition wise so he has a little more power.

    But yeah they need to fight it out because Marvel has it good for a long time now in terms of screwing over its talent, and its time to share the wealth.

      1. Any actor expressing something like that would be a rare thing in Hollywood. You sometimes see it in television (Friends cast, in particular), but not so much in movies. I doubt seriously Downey, Jr. is think of his cast mates, but I don’t fault him for that. Such is life.

        1. Going by this article, Downey is doing EXACTLY that. He’s become a hot commodity in Hollywood these days and if he tells Marvel to go screw themselves, he can write his own ticket. Marvel needs Downey more than Downey needs Marvel, and that’s given him a huge bargaining chip, one which he’s apparently using to help his castmates. And good on him for doing so.

          1. “Marvel needs Downey more than Downey needs Marvel…” That’s a debatable statement, IMO. It’s a given that Marvel will one day make an IRON MAN movie with someone else playing Tony Stark. RDJ is pushing 50, and has said he doesn’t plan to play Stark much longer. But how many non-IM hits has RDJ had of late? Sherlock Holmes does well, but his opportunity for profit in the Holmes series isn’t nearly what it is in the IM series. And RDJ has stated often since IM1 that he greatly appreciates what that first movie (and, hence, Marvel) did for his career, and seems to want to remain faithful to them.

            If he really wants to go full-solidarity, he should pull a “Friends” and demand that he and each of the other 5 Avenger actors all get the same amount for the sequels. RDJ has made plenty already, after all.

          2. “RDJ is pushing 50, and has said he doesn’t plan to play Stark much longer. But how many non-IM hits has RDJ had of late?”

            Come on, take off your money-goggles. Yeah, RDJ has now starred in blockbusters and all, and he did say it was nice to film movies that people actually went to see. But he is also an artist, a fucking talented one too, and I’d bet that the blockbusters got him financially comfortable. So what if he stops getting starring roles in big-budget movies (which I highly doubt would happen, this man is a filmmaker’s wet dream and he doesn’t get less valuable with age)? He would still get to act, in perhaps lower-budget movies, and he would do great and maybe have a lot more fun and artistic freedom and intellectual satisfaction. It’s not all about the box office, you know.

            Cool article, it’s slightly horrifying but nice to see that people still know to keep together.

  11. I am hoping Marvel does the right thing and re-sign the entire cast. I would not be interested in seeing an Avengers sequel if they re-cast anyone.

    1. I wholly agree. The cast brings the roles I love from the comics to life and I would have trouble seeing anyone else in their positions now.

      1. Yeah, that’s exactly why Spider-man completely tanked at the box office without Tobey. Oh, wait…

        1. Except Amazing Spider-Man was a reboot, it wasn’t a continuation of the existing story with a different actor in the role.

          1. Heck, if I was Marvel, I’d tell the money grubbing actors to suck it and test the waters with a West Coast Avengers feature using only undiscovered actors and a lineup that features absolutely zero of the folks from the big payday. It would add some much needed exposure for the lesser known heroes. The problem Marvel has right now is that all their eggs are in one basket. Give the grubbers half a decade or so watching others get their fanfare and I’m sure their ridiculous demands will start to wither.

          2. I always HATED the fact that Spiderman started with MJ first and NOT Gwen Stacy because Pete and Gwens awesome but doomed love was ALWAYS so much more absorbing than “MJ”. The Death Of The Green Goblin at the end of Spiderman was lifted from the aftermath of Gwens Death in the comic book, and it just didn’t fit. While the movie Goblin was suddenly contrite just before he died, the comics Goblin wanted Petey DEAD right up to the end-He had slipped THAT far from reality-but died without a word, on a “humble stake of tin”….

  12. Someone should remind these actors that they’re digestable, neither curing cancer or saving any lives, or even teaching. They are already grossly overpaid.

    Plus, I think it’s Downey looked absolutly bored in IM3. It might be refreshing to see a new actor in the part.

    For me the star of Avengers 3 was Wheddon.

    1. How exactly are actors overpaid? The money is going somewhere and it shouldn’t just be in the hands of some studio execs.

      1. RIGHT. It should go to the hands of the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who worked on this movie on not the paychecks of INDIVIDUALS who are already grossly overpaid for essentially having the best job in the world (which they only do for a short period of time anyway). 50 million. 50 MILLION for doing ONE movie and having a great time doing it?? While the people who do all the real behind the scenes work will never see a tenth of this amount in their lifetimes?? People need to seriously reevaluate. You have the best life ever, you are getting paid more than the GDP of a small country to ACT, which is your chosen profession, in a fun GLOBAL smash-hit movie, and you are essentially disposable. I almost hope that they get rid of those avaricious narcissistic dicks if they try to ask for a lot more money.
        Marvel may be stingy but I’m sure the wealth is being distributed on way more heads than the over-inflated ones of these actors.

        1. You’re SO spot-on, what?? To hell with the so-called “stars” in the movies. I heard that Heinschmeil Pooppett was the craft services director on this one. That makes this movie a MUST-SEE for me!!

        2. a billion and a half is a lot of money to say the least. there’s enough for everyone…actors and athletes have been screwed over for a hundred years.if the owners make the money their stars and athletes are entitled to a piece of the action. their careers are of limited longevity and they must make it when they can…..that’s the game in which they all play.

    2. I thought his direction of Avengers 3 was pedestrian and didn’t live up to the great work from Avengers 2. Now, his work on Much Ado About Nothing 2 – Electric BoogAdo was awesome.

    3. Whedon is the most replaceable of them all. Feige + Whedon = Marvel magic. Feige + any other writer/prod/dir having cut their teeth on TV (say, JJ Abrams, Shawn Ryan, whomever) = same difference.

      Replace RDJ with a younger actor (Pattinson, Timberlake, etc.) and it’s all over. Pay the cast what they’re worth.

      I’m just glad Tom Cruise didn’t end up playing Tony Stark, as was originally considered.

      1. Yeah TomCruise@IronMan, I shudder. That would have been a Shyamalan-level disaster.

    4. The simple fact is often for actors that aren’t quite so (over) exposed as this particular cast is that often you get one job a year if you’re lucky, and living off one paycheck, however substantial it may seem for a short period of time, is actually a pretty tough ask. And with actors like that as the majority of the industry their paychecks actually make sense.

  13. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

    Downey is the cornerstone, irreplaceable.

    Maybe, MAYBE, at most, one or two others could be recast. But it’s a bad idea.

    The new picture works spectacularly well. I saw it with a theater full of very real Americans and they loved it.

    ESPECIALLY the Mandarin, you know, thing. Which I laughed and laughed with, even though I’ve known about it for weeks.

    Great work by Shane Black, though the action stuff at the end gets to be a bit much. But that’s partly me after seeing 9 million action scenes in a lifetime, so far …

    Fascinating how anonymous insiders, real and otherwise, have such “knowing” yet unknowing insights.

  14. Star salaries are again becoming a detriment to making films. Sure, Iron Man 3 and Avengers 2 will make boatloads of cash. But stars who have already made millions from these franchises (and so many others) just keep digging. How many millions is enough?

    Let’s not forget how much money just one-stinking-million dollars is. Or how far that $1M would go to take care of the professional creatives who actually make the damn pictures.

    When production costs go up, so follow box office prices. And how much box office drop-off has there been in the past year – something like 13% – because the public can’t afford to go anymore? Movies shouldn’t cost $50M to make, much less $200M.

    RDJ is a fine actor. I don’t particularly like his work in these action hero movies, but whatever. I wish he would have the wherewithal (balls?) to take a couple million less so that his fellow union members (and writers… and crew…) might not get so f’ing screwed by producers. Shooting Iron Man 3 in NC absolutely screwed local LA crew and talent – the very people who built the franchise in the first place. Did anyone put their foot down for us? RDJ could have easily said, “We shoot in Manhattan Beach, or I’m not doing it.” (Note: he’s done this before; I believe it had something to do with Sherlock Holmes.)

    Care to read about Johnny Depp holding out for $40M for “The Lone Ranger”? Director – $30M? Producer $20M? That’s $70M before one frame of film is exposed. And how is that picture gonna do @ box office? Here’s a hint: #notsogood

    When will studios learn to say ‘no’ to greedy actors and directors, while everyone else gets crumbs?

    1. I agree with what you say. Unfortunately, audiences don’t come to see the crew.

        1. Except we’re not talking about something that doesn’t have an audience. We’re talking about something that does bring in people by the droves. Although I’m mostly sympathetic to what you say, it doesn’t apply to films like this that still generate a river of money. In fact, in an overall down market, the talent that can still drive commercial numbers may well actually find themselves in a stronger position to demand a heftier cut of the remaining profitable projects.

          The bottom line is, there’s not an actor in that cast who won’t work again if they walk away from Marvel at this point, so why shouldn’t they hold out? Worst case scenario for them is they go do something else. Frankly, if I had the juice to soak someone for $50m, I’d do it, and so would most of the people who post derogatory statements about such tactics.

    2. Ace – you have a good heart but you’re being foolish and you probably know it. You really think that if RDJ took a paycut that the studio would give it to the crew? Yea right. The crew, up to and including writers and producers, have no leverage, certainly not for Marvel movies. Disney would just keep the extra change. The only way to stop that kind of behavior on the corporate side is legislative. In the meantime, RDJ is doing the right thing – money moving from billionaires to millionaires is better than nothing.

      1. I agree, Adam (A***n?). But this kind of movie-making is what’s killing moviegoing as a theatrical experience. People will come in droves to see RDJ and Iron Man 3. But budgets like this are driving up all ticket prices (not to mention stars’ deals for “first dollar profits” on the back end: Tom Cruise).

        Maybe what we need is a tiered-price system for box office. Blockbusters like IM3 (et al) could ask/demand the top tier, but let’s please allow for lower/normal budget films that might charge $9.50 for a ticket instead of $12.50. There is an audience for thrillers, comedies and dramas at that price point but they’re staying home and watching Netflix instead. Studios paying exorbitant money to rich people isn’t going to win back their audience.

        Further, if the unions would grow some balls and not allow the AMPTP/studios to shit all over us (while they cry ‘poor’ and pocket billions from our hard/creative work), perhaps there would be a more equitable pay structure. Wouldn’t cost the studios a penny – they just have to learn to say ‘no’ to the stars’ outrageous demands.

        I don’t expect Hollywood to show any loyalty (Tom Hanks, Danny DeVito, Sally Field… how ya’ doin’?) but it’s so easy for them to use that power in a good way, for their fellow union members. RDJ is adamant that his fellow cast members get their due? Awesome. But what about the little guy(s) who barely eke out a living, work so much harder, and have to fight the system to get producers to play fair (co-stars, day players, background…)?

        Bah, I’m getting off-topic. The point is that greedy people are ruining the very infrastructure that made them rich (beyond their dreams) in the first place, and that included managers, agents and production executives. I also consider the state of California one of those greedy entities, ergo film production is running away from home.

        1. Problem perpetuated by the small percentage of current small time players hit the big time, then all of a sudden the current system looks really nice.

      2. or maybe the money is being used by marvel to you know, fund future films. Sorry I would rather marvel get the money and reinvest in future films rather then compensate the overpaid actors. I like that marvel is low balling to thin the heard of actors who just want a big pay check.

        1. They’re lowballing the wrong people though.

          This isn’t some cast of unknown young actors that can be scared into signing on by the threat of being replaced. Everyone in the core Avengers cast can easily go work somewhere else if they want for many projects that would be thrilled to have them. Starve out tactics don’t work when your opponent has no real fear of starvation.

          I also think a point that’s being somewhat glossed over here is that at least some of the issues with talent have nothing to do with money but other issues entirely, like burnout (as seems to be the case with RDJ after 4 films), or Chris Hemsworth’s self admitted frustration with the regimen he has to go through to maintain Thor shape. Again, both of those guys have a range of well paying options open to them at the moment, they can go where they feel like working.

    3. I suspect that RDJ holding out for more money is more likely to raise the salaries for his costars and principals at least. As the costars will be saying I’m not coming in if Robert is making 25 times my salary. His raising the bar for himself will raise the bar for all first tier cast.

      On the other hand, if he lowers the bar, I don’t see Marvel doing anything but putting the cash in their pockets and walking away.

      Marvel has owned many of these properties for forty years or more. During that time they made cheap failed movie after cheap failed movie after cheap failed movie.

      Until they (or more accurately their partners) dug deep and spent the money to hire Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Cliff Robertson, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Halle Barry, Anna Paquin, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Willem Dafoe, Kelsey Grammer, and the like.

      Marvel themed movies and TV series were typically no budget knockdowns. Quickly made on the cheap and as quickly forgotten. Anyone remember Nicholas Hammond as Spider-man?

      When Marvel properties did succeed, it was in spite of the production values, not because of them. (Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno as David Banner/Hulk)

      It is in Marvel’s DNA to go cheap and go home. I think they could easily decide to turn their golden egg laying goose into goose noodle soup if they can’t break their self-destructive financial compulsion.

    4. I agree. RDJ made what is estimated to be over $100 million from his last two Marvel movies, yet Marvel is “cheap” and RDJ is looking for a raise? That seems insane. If RDJ is so concerned about his castmates why doesn’t he compromise, take only $30 million for Avengers 2, and have the studio distribute the other $20 million or so to Hemsworth, Evans, etc.

      The fact is there are no “good guys” or “bad guys” in this scenario. Marvel is putting out hundreds of millions to make and market these films. They are, for the most part, hiring talented directors and actors, most of whom no other studio is willing to take this kind of risk on. Was any other studio lining up to give Branaugh/Favreau/Gunn/Whedon etc an opportunity to helm a $100 million+ tentpole action film? How about letting Downey, Hemsworth, Evans, or Chris Pratt headline a major big budget action franchise? And to their credit, all these people stepped up, did a great job, and either are or will reap the benefits that being part of a hit franchise bring. Am I supposed to feel bad for RDJ because he “only” made $70+ million on a $1.5 billion grossing film? Or for Hemsworth because he had to work out and eat egg whites in order to return to the role that made him millions and established him as a star? It’s ridiculous.

    5. Just wanted to comment that $1M isn’t that much money.

      I live in San Luis Obispo, CA and half a million will be you a smallish 1 bedroom that hasn’t been updated since 1930 and needs at least 2k of repairs.

      … I haven’t even read the rest of your comment, but just had a knee-jerk reaction to that statement.

  15. Robert Downey Jr’s career was in the toilet before Iron Man saved him. And this is how he repays the people who saved him? What a greedy piece of garbage. Iron Man has been around for a helluva lot longer than Downey and will be around for decades to come.

    1. You are aware that Iron Man and what Downey brought to the role made Marvel a viable mini studio right. Both Punishers didn’t do well, both Hulks barely made money. Iron Man changed everything and Downey and Favreau were responsible for that. Lets not forget that while Downey was a bit of a mess in his personal life, he paid his dues for literally decades before finally collecting a payday, this isn’t some 22 yr old with one hit under his belt. The guy is coming up on 30 yrs as a successful working actor and he wants what he is worth to his franchise, if Marvel thinks he isn’t worth it and whoever they plug into IM4 and A2 for 3 million a movie won’t made a difference to the box office then by all means they should. I suspect an Iron Man 4 starring Chris Pine would be lucky to do 600 million worldwide total and IM3 is a lock for a billion worldwide.

  16. tell me how the “cinema” today differs in any manner, shape, or form from the hedge fund business. by money, for money, of money. people actually debate whether downey made 70 million or a hundred million, like its of critical importance.

  17. Actors playing iconic characters should never be replaced, no matter what the cost. For instance, that’s the same guy playing James Bond for the past 50 years, right?

  18. I hate this business. It’s probably the most sexist business in the world. Men are making $50M-$70M and yet woman can count on $12M salary AT MOST! Ugh, I’m so disgusted right now… Guys are cast in big franchises regardless of their age and yet I haven’t seen a single franchise with woman over forty. Shit, I haven’t seen any franchise with woman over thirty! What a bullshit that is.

      1. Yeah, it’s always the easiest to blame the audience. First make a franchise with woman over forty and then we’ll see if the audience is up for it or not. They haven’t seen such anomaly yet.

        1. They don’t show up to most movies when the women are under 40 either. Unless there’s some massively popular book behind it like Twilight or Hunger Games. pretty rare.

    1. That’s because women don’t carry big summer franchises, either as stars or audience. Save your PC whining, it’s true. This stuff is fanboy-driven. Women are INCIDENTAL to its success. That’s the main reason WB won’t pony up for a big-screen Wonder Woman movie, as much as I’d love to see one. I love the ladies, but there it is. Truth hurts.

        1. And that’s why it’s one of the few franchises with a female lead who will actually be earning big money.

        2. I love how people pull the exception out of their ass and try to make it be the rule. It isn’t. Hunger Games is what we call an OUTLIER.

          I liked Salt and Haywire but where are the sequels?

      1. Yes and no. Yeah, fanboys are pathetically xenophobic about who can be the hero, but the previous attempts to bring female superheroes to the screen have been inept. Instead of, say, Nolan or Whedon, we’ve had the Pitof and Karyn Kusamas of the world being tasked to execute these films. Then again, maybe this is a filmmaker problem then a studio problem: how many female-driven films have Spielberg, Scorsese, Zemeckis made etc.?

      2. And that is why Hollywood makes less money than they could. Because of sexist jerks like you who believe that people like me don’t exist… Female, intelligent fan who likes movies and superheroes and science fiction. I have lots of friends. We have money. We’d spend more of it on movies that treated women like real people who are capable of actually doing stuff other than looking pretty and stimulating men. I bothered watching the Marvel Universe only once they brought Whedon in, because I knew there was half a prayer of female characters being presented as more complex than a bouncy set of tits.

        *Shrug*. At some point they will remember that women have a hell of a lot of purchasing power that can certainly drive franchises (and even fantasy or science fiction franchises). And the fanboys can go crawl back into Mommy’s basement.

        I’ve watched older sci fi. Girls screaming and cowering in the corner are boring. Even men seem to prefer to watch women kicking ass.

        1. LOL @ “sexist jerk.” Shoot the messenger if it makes you feel any better but again, the truth hurts.

          I thought Sucker Punch was genius, a female-driven action/fantasy piece, but all feminists could squawk about was how it objectified women. Male critics jumped on the PC bandwagon and crushed the flick. You guys are your own worst enemies at times.

        2. Actually there’s a series of novels coming out within the next year that’s a sci-fi twist on realism and the main cast is 99% female lead with only 2 male leads. The author is a longtime comic, sci-fi, mythology, and literature fan/lover and has believed since he was a child that woman are underrated in film, music, literature, and pretty much anything but mainly those. I know this because he’s my best friend and won’t shut up about how he hates the way they are treated in said media and to quote him exactly. “I’m going to write a story that shows the world how awesome woman really are. Where they aren’t overly sexualized and are treated as intelligent people not things to masturbate to, maybe then humanity will open its eyes to their worth”. So you won’t need to wait to long, the series from what I know is being edited and is scheduled for a 2015 release. That’s the 1st one at least, it’s four books with three side stories. He has a fan base of 80 people so far and 30 of those were in the first 2 months of writing it. It’s by far my favorite sci-fi story to date and that’s not a bias choice because he’s my friend. It’s literally that good. Plus he tackles all sorts of extreme topics in it from racism, sexism, politics, religion, use of language in culture, perspectives on society, and even depression and medical disorders. He covers so much shit in this he’s gonna offend some1 lol. But OMFG it made me open my eyes to the world around me and where it’s going and could go. And the whole thing is done with like I said practically an all girl cast. Also he can’t write guys worth shit, the guys that are in it are the most boring characters lol. But yeah I thoguht you should know that. I’ve seen a lot of girls say that they wish they were treated equally to guys in sci-fi and demand their place in the sci-fi/geek culture not as sex objects. So I just had to say you won’t be waiting much longer.

          1. Oh I 4got 1 more thing. The best part is how he wrote it. It’s being told from all the main characters povs. So in other words each character has their own story and it’s all their stories and how they connect that equals the main plot. Then once they all meet and its all one story it continues that formula to give you more depth to them as people. That how the story is written for the most part. Plus the variety of the characters (quote a main cast of 13 characters). I’ve never seen a story give so much detail on characters (things like their height, weight, racial background, body type). You know the little things most books expect you to picture he gives you in full detail what he pictured in his mind. BUt it gets better, all the novels mainly the main 4 are also half graphic novel. He did all the artwork himself by hand, amazing pictures. So you have a visual of it as well. Plus he spent a long time creating 3 entirely new spoken/written languages. He studied phonetics and everything it was insane. So yeah just wanted mention that. So in my previous comment where I placed the quote he made about giving woman just in sci-fi/geek culture. Yeah he meant it and I’ve never seen him be so passionate let alone work so hard at anything in his life, and boy has it paid off. I’m stoked for them to be released.

            As for this shit with the Avengers cast. Honestly I’d be thankful if I got just the $50 Mil in the economy we’re in today. Plu they are all high paying actors RDJ, CE, CH, SJ, the whole lot of em. So yeah i get wanting a raise but they all make so much money and are in so many huge films. That honestly if I was them i wouldn’t give a shit. I’d be like eh whatever I’ll make a lot on my next film so whatever. I guess what I’m saying is it just isn’t that big a deal. Plus yeah Marvel, as well as other companies are/is cheap. But they can argue that they need the dow to make these films, i mean they aren’t cheap. They have to not only fund the film, but pay the cast and crew. Marketing, toys/merchandising, etc… So as much as I love some of those actors as actors and all. I think they need to shut the fuck up and just accept that they’ll make a shit amount of $ on another movie and whatever raise they get they get. Especially Hemsworth wanting to bail. i get hating a hardcore work out but seriously man do it for the fans and if it wasn’t for the Thor role you’d still be doing soaps in australia. As for RDJ does he really need a raise, ever since his comeback with iron man 1 he’s been in huge film after huge film. He’s practically hollywoods golden boy at this point. Mainly cause of that movie and because he’s a gifted actor and artist and they now realize that which sucks but still. he’s come a long way as the bully from weird science. Btw see Chaplin guys he was AMAZING in that. As for SJ she can get plenty of other roles, plus she does modeling and has a girl rock band she put together as of late. So she has no right to complain either. Bottom line they all make a shit load of money. If any of em need a raise is Mark Ruffalo he’s the least big actor out of them all. Jeremy Reiner has become a big action star over the past 3 years and rivaled Joseph Gordon Levitt for number of movies he’s been in lately. He’s awesome to but still this whole drama about getting high pay and more money is a load of horse shit. It’s like the friends thing from the 90s all over again. Greedy hollywood types. Seriously there’s people in the majority of this country let alone the world now that would die to have that kind of pay check. And get it as a result of working only for a couple days or months. It’s stupid and that’s my 2 cents. Either way they need to think about the fans and if $50 million or more dollars or supporting the fans is more import. Hopefully they find a middle ground to do both. Cause if you do one or the other some1 will be pissed. If it’s the money the fans will if its the fans and less or same pay you will. So either way they need that middle ground to satisfy both. So hopefully it works out and Avengers 2 will go on and be a great or decent continuation to the phase 2 series.

      3. Women were 40% of the audience for The Avengers. That’s unprecedented. Were you at Iron Man 3 on opening night? The gender ratio in the audience was about the same. So the fanBOYS might have been the majority, but 40% of a billion? Still pretty damn important. There’s a reason they pulled Whedon in. These movies are working for women and I couldn’t imagine missing one of them. Carol Danvers will make an appearance eventually.

    2. I hate any industry were any actor or sports star would get paid anything over 10 million.

    3. JinJeon: you hate this business but you have to realize the studios are only giving the people what they want and what REALLY drives the summer Blockbuster movie bizness is that 13-17 yr old teenage boy that goes to the movies with his buddies and ends up seeing a blockbuster movie 2-3 times with his buddies, Hence the reason studios are always trying to stay in that coveted PG-13 rating level so that this group of movies goers can add to the big profit numbers… a FEMALE headlining star is not something these teenage boys can relate to nor was it females lead that they were reading in comics books when they grow up.. women lead roles are not suited for blockbuster action movies.. make your case for other genre movies and then you would have a made a better point. IMO

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