Robert Downey Jr. has Marvel by the balls and possibly the rest of the Avengers behind him when it comes to negotiations for the second installment
The time has come for Marvel Studios to start talking contracts for THE AVENGERS 2. While several of members of the cast are already in place because of the first film and other Marvel installments, Robert Downey Jr. will be the one that they have to play hard ball with.
The actors salary for IRON MAN 3 is somewhere near the $35 million mark then add the upwards of $70 million he made for doing THE AVENGERS, and you have someone who is seen as essential. Or is he? But will he come back? Downey recently told Jon Stewart on THE DAILY SHOW that he didn't know if he would return and that Marvel better pony up when it comes time to renegotiate. Again, that's IF he comes back. This isn't the first time as of late that Downey has indicated that he's ready to retire from the role. Can they risk getting another actor? One inside source says that, ”They need him, and they don’t have him. He’s got a lot of leverage.
Don't think that Downey isn't replaceable though, especially according to CEO Kevin Feige who has said before that they could get someone else. Marvel is known for being notoriously cheap, however if Downey exits the rest of THE AVENGERS might be looking to add a few zeros to their own checks. Oh, and they are replaceable too. Anyone remember the tale of Terrence Howard? It's said that Downey is seen by the younger members as a "big brother" of sorts and are "united behind him." Another source states, "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." But without Downey none of them have much room for anything.
When Deadline spoke with director Joss Whedon about possibly losing some of the talent, he said this, "I feel good about Avengers because I feel everyone who took it got something to sink their teeth into. They weren’t hung out to dry. It’s not a soulless piece of work."
I found the first part of the exchange to be the most interesting:
DEADLINE: Marvel is notoriously cheap and some of the Avengers cast will want more money for the sequel. How could that affect Avengers 2?
WHEDON: I’m not going to comment specifically because I’m not privy to that sort of stuff and I don’t think it’s my place to talk about. In general terms, yes – Marvel can be very cheap, God knows. They can also be sensible and frugal. They have a very small infrastructure and they’re not heaping this money on themselves. I don’t know a producer who’s done more and is paid less than Kevin Feige. I think that it’s an issue but it’s part of a bigger issue, which is there was a time when there was a crisis in the acting community where stars were getting $20 million and character actors were disappearing as a concept. There were no middle class actors. It was suddenly bit players and Jim Carrey, and that was it. Now the studios have gotten to a point where they’re like, “Do we need that star?” With what they’re able to to digitally and the way they create franchises there’s a little bit of a feeling of, maybe we can eliminate the actor – not totally and not totally cynically, but I’ve literally heard people at the agency say, not about Marvel, “This studio is eliminating the middle movie. They’re not making dramas or prestige pics or anything that isn’t either a franchise or a Paranormal-style found footage”. I think that changes the landscape for actors because really good actors are interested in doing a franchise because they need something.
As you can see, it's going to be a very bumpy ride.