RDJ’s fan-favorite character launched the blockbuster super hero universe with Iron Man (2008) and went on to appear in 11 total MCU films — Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
As more than a decade passed, Stark turned from a billionaire playboy into the husband of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the trusted confidante of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), the mentor of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), the occasional adversary of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), and the fearless leader of his father’s legacy, Stark Industries.
Stark also bravely sacrificed himself to save the world from Thanos (Josh Brolin) as Marvel’s Infinity Saga came to a conclusion in Endgame.
Although RDJ has confirmed that he’s done with the MCU — even going so far as to unfollow all of his Avengers costars on social media (likely a publicity stunt, but still…) — and Iron Man was already recast with a new voice actor in Marvel’s Disney+ Original animated series What If…? (2021), fans still can’t get enough of the super hero actor.
In a recently resurfaced interview, RDJ shared details about some dissent that existed between him and Marvel Studios over his first Avengers movie paycheck. The ensemble film, which hit theaters in 2012, brought Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), and Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye) together for the first time.
The Sherlock Holmes actor, who reportedly made $50 million for The Avengers, was asked about his payout for the blockbuster Marvel movie and shared:
“Isn’t that crazy? They’re [Marvel Studios] so p***ed. I can’t believe it. I’m what’s known as ‘a strategic cost.’”
Downey, Jr. also recounted injuries he suffered while filming Iron Man 3 (2013), adding:
“It got me thinking about how big the message from your cosmic sponsor needs to be before you pick it up. How many genre movies can I do? How many follow-ups to a successful follow-up are actually fun?”
It’s worth noting, of course, that the MCU icon went on to star in multiple additional Avengers franchise films despite his apparent frustration.
The aforementioned article noted that RDJ isn’t the only actor who has been frustrated with Marvel’s pay structure over the years:
While Downey got what he asked for — his salary would only increase with future MCU films — the rest of the cast also made a case for why they deserved a hike. Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and Captain America star Chris Evans weren’t pleased with the paltry $500,000 increase they were offered for the second films in their respective franchises, and Black Widow actor Scarlett Johansson had reportedly told her castmates that she would not be slashing her quote for Avengers 2.
It’s worth pointing out that in the decade since The Avengers released, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become one of the biggest box office boons of all time, with films like Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and even Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness (2022) all taking top box office spots.
In fact, today, MCU stars are among the highest paid actors in Hollywood.
More on The Avengers (2012)
The official description of the first Avengers ensemble film reads:
Marvel Studios presents in association with Paramount Pictures “Marvel’s The Avengers”–the super hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel super heroes Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.
What MCU movie is your favorite?