During the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio had something of a reputation for being a little too frugal, to the point of low-balling a lot of their offers to potential stars. For instance, Terrence Howard left the Iron Man franchise after refusing to take a pay cut for the second movie after he was the highest-paid member of the cast the first time around.
Robert Downey Jr., meanwhile, made just $500,000 for playing the lead role, but by the time he walked away a decade later, his pay packet was 150 times larger. Samuel L. Jackson also came close to abandoning ship before he renegotiated his deal, while Chris Evans’ earnings jumped from $300,000 on Captain America: The First Avenger to a reported $20 million for Avengers: Endgame.
Downey Jr.’s initial contract expired at the end of Iron Man 3, and when he entered talks to renew his deal for Avengers: Age of Ultron, he made sure that the rest of his co-stars were awarded similarly increased terms as well. As the biggest name in the MCU and the franchise’s main drawing card, the actor knew he was as close to irreplaceable as it gets, and used his clout with the studio to secure a better deal for the rest of the Avengers.
Given the massive box office success enjoyed by every single one of Marvel’s superhero blockbusters, it wasn’t as if they were hurting for cash, either, and with the major players in the ensemble all united in a common goal, their demands were swiftly met and these days, the stars of the MCU are frequently ranked among the highest-paid names in the industry whenever they’ve got a new movie in theaters.