When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was first getting going, it was trying to do something that had never really been attempted before, and doing so required some unprecedented moves. A perfect example of this is the way that Marvel Studios negotiated contracts with their stars – having them sign massive multi-picture deals that would lock a performer into a particular part for many years. Fast forward to now, the comic book movie franchise is more than a decade old, and with all of its growth and development has come a change in the way that the company works out contracts with actors.
It made headlines back in 2009 when it was revealed that Marvel had signed a massive nine picture deal with Samuel L. Jackson that would keep him playing Nick Fury for years and years, but a recent Hollywood Reporter interview with Kevin Feige reveals that business at the studio isn't conducted that same way anymore. The trade asked the filmmaker/executive if there were still contracts like that being created for actors to star in both developing film and streaming projects, and Feige suggested that negotiations aren't the same now as they were in the early days of the MCU, and that there is a case-by-case basis approach:
Of course, one massive thing that has changed in the last decade for actors in Hollywood is the perception of association with Marvel. When aforementioned actors like Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans were signing their massive deals, they were taking a gamble on a certain level – having no idea if the franchise would actually be successful. Now those actors are superstars, with their Marvel roles being hugely influential parts of the equation.
Because of their credibility and history, Marvel has a lot more leverage in their contract negotiations, so it makes all the sense in the world that their approaches would evolve over time and after releasing nine billion-dollar hits. They surely don't want to get into another situation like they did with Robert Downey Jr. (remember when they paid him $50 million for his role in Avengers?), but the company has a lot more power now, and that's going to change the way that they do business behind the scenes.
As Phase 4 continues to move forward, we'll be seeing a lot more new faces joining the ever-expanding franchise, and as ever it will be interesting to see which stars Marvel fully commits to.
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