Celebrating the enormous success of Iron Man 3 this weekend, Robert Downey Jr. and his wife and Iron Man producer, Susan Downey, invited Marvel President Kevin Feige, Disney Studio head Alan Horn, and Iron Man 3 director Shane Black over to their house for dinner on Monday, May 6th to renegotiate Downey Jr.’s contract to reprise his world famous role as Tony Stark/Iron Man in The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3. Now keep in mind Robert Downey Jr. is not contractually obligated to appear in any more Marvel films, not even Avegners 2; but it has been assumed he would appear in at least that film, which is why The Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon has already begun penning the script for Avengers 2.
As of this moment, Downey Jr. and the heads of Disney and Marvel are only negotiating a contract for Downey Jr. to return in only Avengers 2 and Avengers 3, Iron Man 4 has yet to be discussed, but it doesn’t look like it would happen until Phase 3. If you’re not aware, The Avengers ended Phase One in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe last year, and The Avengers 2, releasing on May 1, 2015 will be the end of Phase Two, which will also be introducing Guardians of the Galaxy.
Kevin Feige recently mentioned that he does expect another Iron Man movie in the future, but as of now they do not have any plans to make one, and they’ve already planned Phase Two and Three through 2016. So, if there ever is an Iron Man 4 it won’t happen until 2017, which is actually the end of Phase 3, and the presumable release of The Avengers 3–so, maybe we won’t get another Iron Man movie at all and just see Downey Jr. appear in the Avengers series instead.
Renegotiating a contract for Downey Jr. as Iron Man won’t be cheap by any standard. Last year he made a whopping $50 million for The Avengers alone and most likely will be taking home an amount close to that, if not more, for Iron Man 3 this year. He said this of Marvel to GQ recently, “Isn’t that crazy? They are so pissed. I’m what’s known as a strategic cost.” And a definite required strategic cost, as is evident in the unfathomable surprise success of The Avengers franchise; which can largely be attributed to his rendition as Iron Man.
Although Iron Man 2 did outgross Thor and Captain America by 39% and 69%, respectively, it was the worst film of the franchise, thus far. It was The Avengers that really did make all the costs worth it. So, going forward, it may not be worth negotiating another standalone Iron Man film with Downey Jr. for Marvel. If they can have him star in The Avengers alone they would make the amount of money they need. And remember Disney did just pay upwards of $4 billion for LucasFilm and all its subsidiaries. They have to get to work on Star Wars Episode VII and any other spinoff films as well. This shit doesn’t come cheap.
One thing is for sure, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel back in 2009 for $4.3 billion will be itself off in just 15 years, far earlier than previously anticipated. Heat Vision reports that the Marvel unit of Disney accounts for about 5% of The Walt Disney Company’s total operating income, but if they were to cut Downey Jr. out of the Marvel-verse, analyst Doug Creutz says that it would end up costing Disney as much as 9% in future earnings. “It would be a definite negative for that particular franchise. He is Tony Stark. The other individual franchises – Thor, Captain America, Hulk – etc., don’t have near the level of box-office potential that Iron Man does,” says Creutz. “The other way to look at it is that Iron Man would probably look more like those other franchises in terms of box-office performance without Downey.”
It is likely that Disney and Marvel could take a James Bond approach to the franchise and use a younger actor to replace Downey Jr. It is actually not that far-fetched and most likely would work, seeing that almost every franchise that lasts longer than a decade has done that to at least one or more characters. But, thankfully, Kevin Feige has stated in the past they are not too keen on doing that to any of their Avengers’ characters. It would be a major risk for Disney and Marvel to take if they do not release an Iron Man 4 in Phase Three; after all, the entire three-phase franchise will only last one decade. Christian Bale played batman for 8 years, there’s no real reason why these characters can’t do the same for 10.
I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. It all comes down to Robert Downey Jr. and his contract. I seriously hope they come up with a deal; to a film junkie and comic book nerd like myself, an Avengers world without RDJ just seems unimaginable.
Source: Heat Vision