Robert Downey Jr. Playing Hardball During Avengers 2 Contract Negotiations

The future looks incredibly bright for Marvel Studios. Not only was The Avengers one of the biggest hits of all time, now ranking number three on the all-time records chart, this past weekend Iron Man 3 became the second biggest opening weekend earner ever. Their films are warmly welcomed by both critics and audiences who are excited to see how the Marvel Cinematic Universe builds and develops. But a new report from Deadline suggests that there is a negative side to such high-level success: contract negotiation.

One of the biggest news stories surrounding the release of Iron Man 3 has been the fact that Robert Downey Jr.'s contract with Marvel is now up for renegotiation. But while the potential for an Iron Man 4 is up in the air, there is a much more immediate issue that they must deal with: The Avengers 2. As we reported last month, the star made more than $50 million for his work on Joss Whedon's blockbuster, and he wants to be shown similar money for the sequel. The Hollywood Reporter adds that he is currently negotiating for both The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3

But the issues actually extend beyond Downey Jr., as it turns out that some of the other biggest stars in the MCU have also had money battles with Marvel Studios, one insider quoted saying, "Some received only $200,000 for Avengers and Downey got paid $50M. On what planet is that OK?" While the studio was inevitably able to look him up, Thor's Chris Hemsworth and his people took issue with the fact that he was reportedly only offered a $500,000 raise while working out a deal for Thor: The Dark World after the incredible success of The Avengers. The site says that many of the stars are "becoming united behind Robert Downey Jr." One source said, "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."

Speaking with Joss Whedon, who Deadline says has a $100 million contract with Marvel, the writer/director justified the reason why the studio is having trouble with its stars. Admitting that Marvel is very stingy, he said, "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."

This is a very important issue for Marvel Studios that they must have known was going to come eventually. Even if this situation wasn't about money, there is the risk in any expanded franchise that an actor might be tired of playing the same part over and over again and wanting to leave. Eventually there will be a point where well-established characters either start to leave or get killed off. It's times like these that determine how far in the future that will be.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.