Robert Downey Jr. How Much Do You Get Paid For Every Minute You Appear In A Marvel Movie?

Robert Downey Jr. played Iron Man for more than a decade in the MCU. Here’s approximately how much he was paid per Marvel movie.

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man

When Marvel Studios took a gamble on casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, filmmakers probably didn’t anticipate the actor would become nearly as wealthy as his character. However, with the blockbuster success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came the meteoric rise of Downey’s salary package, plus back-end deals.

Despite repeated, unsubstantiated rumors and the hopes of fans, Downey’s tenure as Tony Stark ended in 2019 with the release of Avengers: Endgame. And so, let’s look back at how much Robert Downey Jr. made from Marvel, breaking it down from each of his nine appearances.

Robert Downey Jr.’s casting as Tony Stark/Iron Man began the MCU as fans know it. It is no secret that when Downey was cast, there was a lot of skepticism and also a huge gamble on Marvel Studio’s part. However, the rest is history, and it netted Downey an impressive streak of paydays. As a result, Downey is one of the highest-earning actors of all time, and rightfully so.

The Original Iron Man Was Downey’s Lowest Salary

$2 million

Iron Man with his mask down

Downey was considered a risky investment for a variety of reasons: he wasn’t an action star, he was basically uninsurable due to his checkered past, and was thought by many to be past his prime, more likely to appear in tabloids than on cinema screens. However, producer Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau saw something in the actor and insisted he play the role. Downey himself had faith in the matchup and agreed to accept a low salary of $500,000, with an unknown cut of back-end profits, with some sources saying as high as eight percent.

There’s some indication this salary, or the one he earned for Iron Man 2, also covered his cameo in The Incredible Hulk. The movie was a hit beyond all expectations and kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe properly, grossing over $585 million worldwide and raising Iron Man into the top tier of superheroes. Even if his percentage was a more typical .05 percent of gross, that’s still enough to bring Downey’s Iron Man salary up to $2 million.

RUNNING TOTAL: $2 million

Iron Man 2 Saw A Large Increase In Earnings

$10 Million

Iron Man and War Machine facing off in Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 was greenlit shortly after its predecessor was released in theaters, ensuring that Downey would return to the lead role. The film follows Tony Stark as he works to keep his Iron Man tech out of the wrong hands. Mickey Rourke was cast as the iconic villain Whiplash, alongside Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, a rival to Tony Stark. Terrance Howard was also famously replaced by Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine.

Downey was able to negotiate more money for the blockbuster sequel, earning a rumored $10 million, plus another sweet back-end deal. While the movie was considered underwhelming by critics, Iron Man 2 grossed slightly more than its predecessor at approximately $623 million internationally. With his career officially reinvigorated, Downey established himself as a mainstay of the MCU for years to come.

RUNNING TOTAL: $12 million

Marvel’s The Avengers Changed Robert Downey Jr’s Marvel Contract

$50 Million

Iron Man and Captain America stand over Loki

When Avengers rolled around in 2012, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America all had their own profitable movies, though Iron Man‘s first solo film was still the best-received critically of the bunch. Downey and Stark were two of the movie’s anchors, and his $10 million salary reflected that. While the film is certainly an ensemble piece, Downey was the glue that held the group together.

This $10 million became Downey’s base salary for the next several films. The Avengers proved an astonishing success, earning $1.5 billion worldwide and leaving other studios scrambling to try and duplicate the success Marvel Studios was seeing. Due to the immense success of the film, back-end deals ended up bringing Downey’s Avengers salary to $50 million.

RUNNING TOTAL: $72 million

Iron Man 3 Was The Highest-Grossing Film For The Superhero

$50 Million

Tony Stark sits next to the Iron Man suit

Downey’s $10 million salary/$50 million total paychecks continued for the third and final Iron Man movie. In the aftermath of The Avengers, Tony Stark grapples with PTSD from his brief trip to space while facing off against The Mandarin. Iron Man 3 was the only film in the series not to be directed by Jon Favreau, this time with Shane Black stepping into the director’s chair.

Though it disappointed some hard-core fans, the movie was the highest-grossing Iron Man film, with a 1.2 billion dollar haul. Although he wouldn’t get a solo movie again, Iron Man certainly didn’t take a backseat, as he still played a prominent role in the universe after that point. And Downey was definitely compensated accordingly.

RUNNING TOTAL: $122 million

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Remains A Profitable Misstep For Marvel

$50-80 Million

The Avengers head into battle together

Avengers: Age of Ultron finds the Avengers reuniting to deal with the rising threat of Ultron, an aggressive AI created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. As Ultron plans to eradicate humanity, the film explores how Tony Stark’s fear of enemies from beyond clouded his judgment, something his fellow Avengers called him out on.

Age of Ultron earned an estimated $1.4 billion, making it the lowest-grossing of the Avengers films, which is still no small feat in terms of box office numbers. However, estimates put Downey’s earnings as somewhere between $50 million and $80 million. Tony Stark may have been recklessly endangering the world, but Robert Downey Jr. had never been a safer bet.

RUNNING TOTAL: $172 million – $202 million

Captain America: Civil War Made Downey A Huge Base Salary

$64 Million

Iron Man looks on in the middle of a field in Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War was the first time Downey would appear in another MCU hero’s movie in a prominent role. The film follows the divide of the Avengers after the Sokovia Accords are implemented to control them. The team fractures into two teams, one led by Captain America and the other led by Iron Man. This was also the debut of the MCU’s Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland.

Civil War was another blockbuster, grossing $1.15 billion worldwide, nearly beating the highest-grossing solo movie for Iron Man, Iron Man 3. Downey made approximately $50 million to play Captain America’s enemy. However, that’s not including profit-sharing, back-end, and a $5 million bonus for surpassing the previous Captain America movie’s box office. That puts his haul just a little shy of $64 million. As a note, scenes from Civil War were repurposed for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and it’s not clear at this time what, if anything, Downey was paid for that.

RUNNING TOTAL: $236 million – $266 million

Spider-Man: Homecoming Didn’t Feature Much Of Iron Man

$10-15 Million

Peter Parker speaks to Tony Stark on a rooftop

Spider-Man is one of the most universally recognized characters in the world, and Spider-Man:Homecoming represented Peter Parker’s first solo adventure under the Disney banner. Peter Parker juggles his duties as a superhero while continuing his schoolwork and trying to have a social life. He is also massively trying to impress his mentor, Tony Stark, to become an official Avenger.

The movie itself made a strong $880 million across the globe, but it’s Downey who ended up making out the best. Downey made at least a million dollars per minute for approximately 10 minutes of screen time, putting his earnings on the film between $10 million and $15 million. Downey also received top billing and was prominently featured in the film’s marketing despite having only 10 minutes of screen time.

RUNNING TOTAL: $246 million – $281 million

Avengers: Infinity War Saw The Actor Net A Huge Fee

$75 Million

Tony Stark stands in front of Doctor Strange, Bruce Banner and Wong

Avengers: Infinity War was the most anticipated MCU film upon release. Thanos enacts his plan of collecting all six of the Infinity Stones, causing him to cross paths and battle several of the MCU heroes. Iron Man links up with Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy when they take the fight to Thanos on his home world of Titan.

Infinity War represented the first part in the culmination of the MCU so far, which Downey had helped launch with the success of Iron Man. The film ended up earning more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office, netting Downey at least $75 million. The backload pay that Downey would receive for this film (and the next sequel as well) launched him into a whole new pay stratosphere, even for himself.

RUNNING TOTAL: $321 million – $356 million

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Ended Downey Jr’s Stint As Iron Man

$75 Million

Tony Stark snaps his fingers wearing an Infinity Gauntlet

Avengers: Endgame was the pinnacle of the MCU, something Downey helped start 11 years prior. The Avengers band together to bring back the fallen heroes that were dusted by Thanos. What follows is a massive battle against the Mad Titan that features nearly every MCU hero, and Iron Man is able to finish off Thanos for good.

Many went into Endgame figuring it’d be Downey’s last appearance as Iron Man, and they were inevitably proven right. Although Tony Stark couldn’t take it with him, Downey’s Endgame salary earned him around $75 million, with the rumored 8 percent back-end deal earning him an extra $55 million for this film alone. Endgame came close to becoming the highest-grossing movie ever, just shy of $2.8 billion. Considering just how much money Downey’s movies ended up racking, he was probably worth that initial $500,000 deposit, having gone on to earn more himself than Iron Man did over its entire domestic run at the box office.

RUNNING TOTAL: $396 million – $435 million

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