We are living in a post Iron Man 3 world, which only means that Marvel’s Phase 2 is upon us. With Thor 2 out later this year, Captain America out in less than a year and Guardians of the Galaxy a little over a year away, it is time for Marvel to start thinking Avengers 2. This movie will be bigger than big as evidenced from the box office of the first film and Iron Man 3 this past weekend, but a slight problem is brewing on the horizon. The actors don’t want to work for peanuts again. Basically if you decide to act in a film for Marvel you are working for a few hundred thousand dollars, and you will be signed to a multi-picture deal. Smart move on Marvel’s end. They get the actors they want locked in long enough so that they can retain consistency throughout their cross-over films. The only re-casting so far has been Terrence Howard swapped out for Don Cheadle. Terrence asked for too much money to come back for a sequel, so they booted him. Also The Hulk has been recast three separate times. I don’t count it as a recasting for money purposes however. They wanted someone who worked better in an ensemble capacity. Ed Norton does not command a large paycheck, but he LOVES having script control. Enter Mark Ruffalo
Right now, Marvel’s biggest problem is that Robert Downey Jr is out of contract. Iron Man 3 was the last film he was contractually obligated to make, and he was the only one who ever got paid what he was worth. There has been talk that Iron Man can be replaced with a different actor, but would Marvel REALLY want to test those waters? Iron Man’s success and Downey’s portrayal is what ties the Avengers films together. Without him, you have a problem. So now Marvel has to renegotiate with Downey Jr., but he’s also planning on playing hardball for the rest of the heroes. Chris Hemsworth and Scarlet Johannson are both said to be chapped over their awful contracts in their previous films and no longer want to work for nothing for a film that will make over one billion dollars. Neither currently has a contract for Avengers 2, and rumor has it that Marvel would consider either getting other actors or just inserting other characters if need be to replace them. I get that on paper. Comics are a revolving door of characters. They come in and out with little explanation, because certain writers like certain characters. Thus the absence of any character could be explained away in two seconds: “Oh Thor, he’s up in Asgard protecting the realm.” See? It’s that easy. There is already talk of including Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, and Iron Patriot in the next film. All really cool characters yes, but not at the expense of the ones we already have.
My advice to Marvel: Just pay up already. You were fortunate enough to make an awful lot of money, without having to pay much for the work, but in doing that, you built careers. Chris Hemsworth IS Thor. That and women, namely my girlfriend love him. Don’t upset the apple cart so early. No, I am not saying that you’ll have to pay them Downey Jr. money ($50 million), but a decent salary, or a backend of the gross would be fair. With a backend you can worry about paying them after the movie has cleaned up at the box office. The films are universally beloved, and make you more money than you ever had as a company simply printing comic books. The frugal nature of Marvel, and Disney for that matter with actors has allowed them to make some great movies, but when the only people getting paid are Johnny Depp, and Robert Downey Jr. that is a problem. If this contract dispute becomes more public than it already has, it will not go well for Marvel and Disney. I, like many other comic book film fans, want to see as many of the characters I’ve grown up with on screen as possible. Not less. If I find out Thor isn’t in Avengers 2 because he couldn’t get one million dollars, I’ll lose my ever-loving mind.