How Robert Downey Jr.’s Role as Iron Man Has Given Him a Ridiculously High Net Worth

Of course, Robert Downey Jr. is the highest paid actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The 53-year old launched the film series in 2008 with Iron Man and never looked back. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice Downey Jr.’s name is almost always credited first on nearly every film, so it stands to reason the actor we all once considered passé is now one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.

Robert Downey Jr. owes incredible thanks to his original role in Iron Man for his insane wealth. He’s earning tens of millions now, but it didn’t start out that way. Ahead, we break down exactly how Robert Downey Jr. amassed such a fortune and what we can expect from him and his co-stars moving forward.

1. Pre-Avengers scroll

Robert Downey Jr. at an event in a suit with sunglasses on

Robert Downey Jr. has a dark past we often forget about. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Before becoming Tony “Iron Man” Stark, Robert Downey Jr starred in Ally McBeal, Game 6, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Tropic Thunder. These roles earned him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. No, Downey Jr. wasn’t exactly poor by anyone’s standards, but his ability to command blockbuster salaries is limited to recent years only.

A string of drug arrests, rehab stints, and a few PR blunders tanked his career in the early 2000’s — that is until the actor staged the most epic comeback Hollywood has ever seen. And it was marvelous.

Next: Marvel begins

2. Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man

Once he took this part, his career skyrocketed. | Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. has appeared in eight MCU films thus far, the first of them being Iron Man. The internet speculates that the actor pocketed around $500,000 for his initial part as Tony Stark. This number won’t raise eyebrows in comparison to his salary penned for later films, but Downey Jr. was still considered a “risky” cast at the time of filming.

Its also rumored he took home a percentage of the profits from every Marvel film he has appeared in. The Verdict estimates the deal was for 0.25%, which means Downey Jr. probably made $2 million for his Iron Man debut.

Next: A quick, but profitable cameo

3. The Incredible Hulk

A close-up on Hulk wearing his gladiator armor

We can’t forget his cameo that had everyone excited. | Marvel

Tony Stark made a post-credit cameo in The Incredible Hulk, also released in 2008. The 30-second scene is unlikely to have earned him a separate payout for his time and was likely included in his Iron Man pay. But the time spent “pro-bono” was still worthwhile. In the end, Downey Jr.’s continued involvement in the series is likely to have positively impacted his credibility, future billing rates, and overall net worth.

Next: Higher salary is warranted

4. Iron Man 2

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. made a shocking $10 million for the sequel. | Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. barely negotiated a salary higher than what it cost to create his original Iron Man suit in the first movie. The suit, which was once stolen from the prop warehouse in 2018, cost an estimated $325,000. But when it came time to film the sequel Iron Man 2, it’s reported the actor pulled in a much higher salary: $10 million to be exact. Growing popularity allowed his people to negotiate a much larger percentage of the profits, which Money Nation estimates was 2.5% of the $623 million gross profits this time around.

This brings his Iron Man 2 payday to roughly $13 million according to Verdict. He’s likely also earned significant cash for related marvel products, such as his voice role in the Iron Man video game.

Next: The first of many Avengers

5. The Avengers

The Avengers

The Avengers was considered a complete success by all involved. | Marvel

By 2011, Robert Downey Jr. was rolling in dough and notoriety. The Verdict explains that the actor probably negotiated the same pay rate moving forward and worked with lawyers to sign a profitable film for the next six movies following Iron Man 2. Following this logic, Downey Jr. likely earned $10 million for his time here plus another $29 million in movie profits.

Next: Record-breaking success

6. Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3

This installment was the most profitable one yet. | Marvel Studios

Two years later and America was bursting at the seams for another MCU film. Iron Man 3 was the series’ most profitable debut to date and became one of the few movies to earn $1 billion in under a month. It took just 22 days for Tony Stark and friends to accomplish such a feat — one that paid off big time for Robert Downey Jr. He tacked on another $32 million in earnings that year.

Next: Years 2013 and 2014 were good ones for RDJ

7. Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Tony Stark's Hulkbuster armor was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron

His net worth just kept climbing with each Tony Stark reintroduction. | Marvel Studios

Avengers: Age of Ultron made a cool $1.4 billion in profits worldwide. Once again Robert Downey Jr.’s name was credited first among other notable actors like Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Evans.

Forbes suggested his net worth climbed to $75 million between 2013 and 2014, despite the fact that the second Avengers movie was one of the most expensive movies ever made in history. Reports estimate the company spent $300 million to create the flick.

Next: A last-minute appearance

8. Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War marked another success in the books for Marvel. | Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr.’s role in Civil War was mostly unplanned. Variety reported that MCU head honcho Kevin Feige negotiated on Robert’s behalf to feature more of Stark in this movie under the assumption that his presence here would pay off in later films. By now, it’s clear the ROI on RDJ was significant.

Thanks to a bit of back-and-forth, Downey Jr.’s bank account topped $63 million for this. The verdict also implies this total included a $5 million bonus since Civil War was more successful than Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Next: Robert Downey Jr. begins earning millions per minute

9. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Spider-Man: Homecoming

This appearance was amazing for Marvel fans to experience. | Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr.’s appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming was a bit of last-minute endeavor for the actor. Marvel secured a deal with Sony in 2015 for the character rights to use Spider-Man which prompted Downey Jr.’s eight-minute appearance in the film. The Hollywood Reporter says the actor pocketed roughly $15 million from this film — or about $1.3 million per minute.

Even on a slow year, Robert Downey Jr. was a top performer actor on the Forbes list, earning $48 million in 2017.

Next: To infinity

10. Avengers: Infinity War

Iron Man Tony Stark in Avengers Infinity War

Tony Stark continues his legacy in yet another film. | Marvel Studios

To Say Avengers: Infinity War was a box office sensation would be an understatement. It took just 11 days for the movie to top $1 billion in profit, so you can only imagine what the film’s success did for Robert Downey Jr.’s net worth now and in the future.

It’s impossible to pinpoint just how much RDJ will earn from this massive blockbuster, but Bleeding Cool reported he had secured $200 million for Infinity War and Avengers 4. Robert Downey Jr.’s payday climbs even higher when you consider what he takes home in film profits alone.

Next: To infinity and beyond

11. What about Avengers 4?

Avengers: Infinity War

We can’t wait to see what Marvel’s plans are for this one. | Marvel Studios

It’s also impossible to speculate how much Robert Downey Jr. will earn for the Infinity War sequel. But one can assume the same number of fans will see this movie as did the first. It’s also worth noting that Avengers 4 will mark the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s plans to continue and more fans will likely attend a show to see the story through.

So exactly how many millions has Robert Downey Jr. earned from Marvel overall? Let’s find out.

Next: MCU pays handsomely

12. Millions in Marvel money

Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr in Captain America Civil War

He’s a multi-millionaire thanks to these Marvel films. | Marvel Studios

Money Nation claims the Marvel movies are worth more than the country of Belize. The nation of Belize is worth or than $18 billion, but the Marvel movies have earned over $21 billion in all-time sales. Robert Downey Jr. is expected to exit the MCU following the Infinity War sequel, but it’s likely he’ll do so dripping in wealth.

Verdict estimates Downey Jr. has made around $200 million from Marvel. That number climbs to a whopping $240 when considering what Infinity War will contribute. No doubt, being fired from Ally McBeal and struggling for work is a distant memory for the actor these days.

Next: Robert Downey Jr.’s overall net worth is even higher.

13. Robert Downey Jr.’s total net worth

Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man

He’s not the richest man in Hollywood, but he’s coming close. | Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. is no longer the highest paid actor in Hollywood. That title belongs to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg. But that doesn’t mean Robert Downey Jr. is feeling strapped for cash in any way. Celebrity Net Worth lists the actors overall net worth, including everything pre and post-Marvel, at a staggering $260 million and climbing. Here’s why.

Next: Robert Downey Jr.’s future

14. A marvelous effect

Robert Downey Jr.

Fans can’t get enough of Robert Downey Jr. and his role in the Marvel universe. | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

The way Robert Downey Jr. leveraged the popularity of his first Iron Man role to secure higher pay for himself will go down in history. Not only did he break box-office earnings records, but he managed to score himself a few extra cameos not originally included in his acting contract.

The actor has yet to discuss his future post-MCU but alluded to it at the Infinity War premiere saying, “The present is this moment of glory for all of us. And the future…? That is always uncertain. But looking at these friends behind me,” he added, turning back to his co-stars, “it seems like things might brighten up after all.”

Marvel movies will continue to earn Downey Jr. significant residual income, but should he wish to continue acting, his going rate will likely be sky-high — and for good reason!

Next: How Marvel has impacted a few other actor and actress’s net worths

15. Who else is earning big bucks from Marvel?

Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans in Captain America The Winter Soldier

It’s safe to say none of the Marvel actors are doing poorly. | Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. is not the only person profiting handsomely from Marvel’s success. Other actors and actresses, such as Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth, have all experienced a sizable boost in overall net worth. Johansson’s success as the Black Widow made her the top-grossing actor of 2016 when considering global ticket sales. Early rumors also suggest she’ll be earning her own solo movie as the Black Widow that comes with a hefty $25 million payday.

Chris Hemsworth also has the possibility to capitalize on the same type of deal with an expanded story for Thor. The end of his Marvel contract could also spell the end of Thor unless a fourth one is in the works. Rumor has it that this could be possible moving forward. Even Chris Evans had a sizable boost from his $300,000 Captain America salary to $2 million for his work in Avengers.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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