Will ‘Endgame’ Finally Make Robert Downey Jr The Richest ‘Avenger’?
Back in 2007, when Avengers: Endgame star Robert Downey Jr. signed on to play Tony Stark in Marvel’s first self-funded feature film Iron Man, no one thought the movie would be a box office hit, much less launch a cinematic universe that would make billions. But, more than a decade later, Marvel has released five of the ten highest-grossing movies of all-time worldwide, and Downey Jr. is close to becoming the richest actor in the MCU.
Robert Downey Jr.’s early troubled career
Downey Jr.’s salary for Iron Man was $500,000 and considering where his career was at the time, that was a solid paycheck. After becoming a star in the 1980s thanks to roles in Weird Science, Back to School, The Pick-Up Artist, and Less Than Zero – and then receiving an Oscar nomination for his performance in 1992’s Chaplain – Downey Jr.’s career spiraled because of multiple arrests on charges related to the possession of cocaine and heroin.
Downey Jr.’s drug problem was so bad, it ended up landing him in prison for one year, as he told a judge, “It’s like I have a shotgun in my mouth, and I’ve got my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal.”
After serving his sentence and battling his addiction for years, the actor was finally able to get sober. And, in the early 2000’s he started landing small roles in independent films with the majority of his work receiving praise from critics. However, he had never starred in a major blockbuster, but that was about to change.
A life-changing year
2008 was a year that changed everything for Robert Downey Jr., and he never saw it coming. Iron Man wasn’t a major Marvel superhero and Downey Jr. wasn’t an A-list actor, so no one expected the movie to earn more than a half-billion dollars that summer, grab two Academy Award nominations, and spawn two sequels.
The movie’s success was largely attributed to Downey’s acting and the humor he brought to the screenplay. Downey and director Jon Favreau wanted Tony Stark to be a “likable a**hole” who would have an emotional journey that audiences could relate to and root for, and that’s exactly what they gave audiences.
Not only did he star in Iron Man, but he also scored a major box office hit with Tropic Thunder, where he played an Australian method actor named Kirk Lazarus who has “pigmentation alteration” skin surgery so he could play a black character. The hilarious role landed Downey Jr. his second Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actor.
A unique arrangement with Marvel
When Downey Jr. sat down with Marvel studio chief Kevin Feige after Iron Man to discuss the future of the MCU, he negotiated a unique clause in his contract that ended up making him millions. According to The Hollywood Reporter, RDJ’s Marvel contract gives him a percentage of the profits of every MCU movie he appears in – on top of his salary for each film.
This clause reportedly made Robert Downey Jr. more than $75 million for Avengers: Infinity War which he starred in, and $5 million for a cameo in Spiderman: Homecoming, which he only worked on for three days.
Thanks to this amazing foresight from Downey Jr. and his management team, Downey Jr.’s net worth is now approximately $300 million, and that estimate came before Avengers: Endgame hit theaters.
Passing up Michael Douglas
Downey Jr.’s final paycheck from Avengers: Endgame hasn’t been confirmed, but considering its record-breaking turn at the box office, the actor should make even more than he did for Infinity War.
This means that Robert Downey Jr. will officially become not only the richest Avenger but the wealthiest actor in the MCU. Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym) was at the top of the list with a net worth of $320 million thanks to his career that has spanned five decades. But for now, it appears Downey Jr. has finally passed him up.