While Robert Downey Jr. may have left the Marvel Cinematic Universe indefinitely after beating Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, fans and journalists alike are trying their hardest to keep him in the limelight.
A recent story by Screen Geek, for instance, saw fit to revisit a report published by Deadline back in 2013, describing how the A-list actor – then one of if not the most expensive performer in the world – negotiated better salaries for his co-stars just as they were considering quitting their superhero roles over payment disputes with Marvel execs.
While Screen Geek interprets RDJ’s standing up for his colleagues as heroic, he actually was, in some respect, the cause of the problem. See, the thing that bothered the Avengers cast wasn’t that their pay – an estimated $200,000 per person for the 2012 film – was low in itself, but that it was low when compared to that of Iron Man who, as Marvel’s poster boy, earned a whopping $50 million for the pic.
As Screen Geek explains, though:
As the ‘godfather’ of the MCU, and balls of steel, Downey put his role as Tony Stark on the line and stood his ground for his colleagues. And it worked. Marvel renegotiated their contracts and paid the cast fairly, leading to the mega success that became The Infinity Saga,
Though such a disparity in income among equally massive superstars may seem incomprehensible today, you gotta consider the times. Though the MCU was successful, it was nowhere near the cultural phenomenon it is today, and where the first two Avengers films racked in some fairly impressive numbers at the box office, the MCU’s standalone movies were struggling both critically and commercially. In fact, at the time, RDJ’s pics were pretty much the only ones that received any attention.
To get a better idea of what we’re talking about, take Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. While one of the most popular Avengers today, the God of Thunder was once widely regarded as the team’s most disposable and one-note member. Given that Hemsworth’s second standalone MCU feature, The Dark World was loathed by both execs and critics, it’s a small wonder his pay was dwarfed by that of the charismatic Robert Downey Jr., whose refreshing sense of humor always provided a welcome distraction from the stiff seriousness of other heroes, and which ultimately laid the foundation for that upbeat Marvel atmosphere we know and love today.