According to a new report, the contracted paydays for new MCU directors and superhero actors are much smaller than many fans may realize.
First time MCU According to a new report, superhero actors and directors actually receive much smaller paydays than many fans realize. The MCU as it exists today essentially began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. In the film, Robert Downey Jr. the role in itself of billionaire Tony Stark and started a franchise that is now one of the most lucrative entertainment properties of all time. The MCU is currently gearing up for the highly anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverwhich follows on the heels of the other Marvel blockbusters from 2022, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder.
As Marvel films in Phase 1 and 2 grew in popularity, so did the budgets of the films. While most standalone entries introducing new heroes have budgets under $200 million, bigger team-up movies like The avengers and its consequences, saw budgets grow to unprecedented levels. Avengers: Endgame, for example, has a reported production budget of $356 million, making it the most expensive of all MCU movies to date. In addition to growing budgets, stars like Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth began to see their respective paydays grow together, with Downey Jr. reportedly made $75 million for Avengers: Endgame after earning just $500,000 for the first Iron Man movie.
Now a new report from THR reveals that base salaries for new MCU directors and superhero actors are still much lower than some may realize. The report states that first-timers, both protagonists and directors, receive a payday averaging six figures, which is essentially unchanged from how the MCU worked 10 years ago. While this number could quickly jump two to five fold for subsequent sequels, an insider confirms that joining the MCU isn’t about the money in the first place, it’s “You’re doing it because you want to make a Marvel movie.”
Why the MCU continues to attract big stars
While the average six-figure salary probably doesn’t apply to all new MCU stars (veteran actor Harrison Ford will no doubt be paid a lot more for his upcoming role as General Thaddeus E. Thunderbolt Ross in Captain America: New World Order and Lightning strikes), the payday reveal highlights the fact that many new MCU actors are really doing it out of love for the material. Additionally, new MCU superhero actors are generally contracted to appear in multiple entries anyway, meaning there’s a reasonable expectation that salaries will go much higher in the future.
While it’s easy to wonder why first-timer paydays would be so small given the sheer size of the Marvel machine, the strategy is clearly designed to give the company the most bang for the buck. Not only will this structure attract stars and directors who have a genuine passion for the material (which will increase the chances of the finished film being a success), but it could also allow the MCU to defeat lesser-known heroes. The first Guardians of the Universe, for example, was actually a bit of a gamble, with the superhero team being relatively unknown outside of passionate Marvel Comics readers. As the theatrical film landscape continues to evolve dramatically, it will be interesting to see if the MCUThe compensation plan will also evolve.
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