Robert Downey Jr. to Be Iron Man Forever, Make All the MoneyDavid Russell/Disney-ABC/Getty Images/Grantland Illustration
There was a time, not that long ago, when there seemed to be a real question (well, not “real real,” more like “negotiating in public real”) about whether Robert Downey Jr. would ever again wear the Iron Man armor. Following Iron Man 3’s release, Downey was no longer under contract for additional Marvel movies; with his payday for The Avengers already reportedly in the $50 million range, the notoriously budget-conscious *coughcheapcough* studio had to be gagging on all the zeroes they’d have to write on any subsequent check, especially after their “strategic cost” opened the Iron Man threequel at $170 million–plus. Following that historic bow, the contracts remained unsigned, and the movie continued laying waste to the worldwide box office, rolling up $1.2 Billion-with-a-capital-B to date. Guess whose price just went up? (Cue Marvel executives quietly vomiting up hundred-dollar bills they’d tried to hide from Downey’s agents.)
But today the standoff finally ended. Marvel just announced that RDJ’s now on board for both Avengers 2 and 3, consigning himself to the armor for so long Tony Stark may have to build an Iron Rascal to carry him to his favorite shawarma joint in the tag for the third installment. With the original Avengers and Iron Man 3 currently holding down the nos. 3 and 5 slots on the all-time box office leaderboard, how much money did Marvel (and Disney, which, hey, also owns this site, how about that?) have to cough up to ensure Downey continuity? What’s that strategic-cost budget line look like now? We’ll probably never have the actual number, because no studio wants the world to know what it’s willing to give the anchor of a multibillion-dollar franchise when he’s got them by the proverbial lugnuts. But we bet those negotiations involved the about-to-get-superpaid actor musing about how “Robert Downey Jr.’s Marvel Presents” might look above the title of every sequel, or breaking into conference calls just to laugh maniacally over cash-register rings, or exploring the possibility of every Mickey Mouse head at Disneyland being replaced by Iron Man’s. They can add red-and-gold mouse ears to them if they have to; he’s not going to be a dick about it.