Robert Downey Jr. in Talks for 'Avengers' Sequels, But It's Not Easy
During the press rounds for Iron Man 3, the charismatic Robert Downey Jr., was hinting that it might be time for him to retire from Iron Man as he nears age 50, and his contract with Marvel expires, prompting a need for renegotiations. As of now Downey is not signed on for The Avengers 2, but Heat Vision reports he has entered negotiations to join the sequel in addition to The Avengers 3. However, there is no discussion about Iron Man 4 right now, which goes hand-in-hand with what Gwyneth Paltrow said last week. However, these negotiations are pretty tense, because the rest of the cast of the ensemble superhero movie doesn't want to be lowballed by Marvel anymore, and Downey is making sure that doesn't happen.
For those who don't know, Downey's deal with Marvel includes a slice of Marvel’s first-dollar gross from every movie in which he plays the character. Because of that deal, Downey has made $50 million from The Avengers alone, and some sources say he could get even more. As Downey explained it to GQ, "Isn’t that crazy? [Marvel is] so pissed. I’m what’s known as a strategic cost.” Because Downey gets people in the seats, they've kept him happy, but now that it's time to renegotiate, Downey is fighting a battle not just for his new contract, but for the other stars of the ensemble who see how much Downey made on the backend.
Deadline reports that Downey is acting as sort of a big brother for the rest of the cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. The actors apparently want at least a $5 million paycheck and a small slice of the backend grosses for The Avengers 2. Marvel has said their frugal spending came because they determined that the film would have to hit $1.1 billion in box office to be profitable. But one unnamed executive wondered if the film needed to be that successful to make a profit, why the hell did anyone want to make it?
The fact is Marvel is cheap, and they're starting to care more about their properties than the actors who help bring them to life and make them so successful. They had the same problem in the comic book industry years ago when they didn't value their writers and illustrators as much as their properties. But this isn't something new. When any of the Marvel heroes first started, the properties weren't established and they were risky, especially with lesser known names like Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans in lead roles. But now that these heroes are a box office draw, it's time to give credit where credit is due, and the actors just want to be recognized for the talent they bring to the set.
Supposedly Marvel has threatened to sue or recast roles when negotiations come back around, and some of the talents have not budged. In fact, Hemsworth supposedly wasn't too keen on getting back in insanely fit shape for Thor: The Dark World when Marvel only offered a $500,000 raise and another $500,000 when the movie hit $500 million. This comes after Hemsworth was paid $5 million for Snow White and the Huntsman. But a deal was finalized with better backend gross numbers and bonuses with more attainable box office goals to make them happen. The same can be said for Chris Evans and his negotiations for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
However, other stars like Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow will have a more difficult time since her options are a little more frequent as a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. who can pop up in any given Marvel movie with ties to The Avengers. Supposedly Johansson isn't going to cut her quote for these movies anymore and expects full compensation. In addition, Downey is behind his co-stars all the way. One rep says Downey is helping out these younger actors in the ensemble saying, "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." Another rep talks a big game by saying, "I have four words for Marvel – 'Fuck you, call Robert.'" Sounds like this is pretty tense.
At the end of the day, Marvel Studios has to realize that once they get a successful property, they can't be cheap anymore. Just because they didn't spend as much the first time around, doesn't mean it's going to be the same the second time around after all the movies in the Marvel Studios banner turn out to be international blockbuster hits. These are actors bringing their characters to life and making people believe in their superheroes on the big screen, and recasting them isn't going to make loyal fans very happy. Yeah, Marvel deserves credit for making this happen, but without these actors, all you have is a stack of comic books, a script and childhood wishes of superheroes on the big screen. Here's hoping Downey can talk some sense into Marvel and get The Avengers happily assembled again.