When the filmmakers behind 2008’s Iron Man took a gamble on casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, they probably didn't anticipate he'd become nearly as ludicrously rich as his character. As Avengers: Endgame will be Downey's last outing as the character for the foreseeable future, we've compiled a list of just how much money he made off his nine appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
IRON MAN (2008)
Downey was considered a risky investment for a variety of reasons: he wasn't an action star, he was basically uninsurable due to his checkered past and was thought by many to be past his prime, more likely to appear in tabloids than on cinema screens. However, producer Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau saw something in the actor and insisted he play the role. Downey himself had faith in the matchup, and agreed to accept a low salary of $500,000, with an unknown cut of back-end profits, with some sources saying as high as 8 percent. There's some indication this salary, or the one he earned for Iron Man 2, also covered his cameo in The Incredible Hulk.
The movie was a hit beyond all expectations and kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe properly, grossing over $585 million worldwide and raising Iron Man into the top tier of superheroes. Even if Downey's percentage was a more typical .05% of gross, that's still enough to bring his total haul up to $2 million.
RUNNING TOTAL: $2 million
IRON MAN 2 (2010)
Downey was able to negotiate more money for the blockbuster sequel, earning a rumored $10 million, plus another sweet back-end deal. While the movie was considered underwhelming by critics, Iron Man 2 grossed slightly more than its predecessor at approximately $623 million internationally. With his career officially reinvigorated, Downey established himself as a mainstay of the MCU for years to come.
RUNNING TOTAL: $12 million
MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012)
When Avengers rolled around in 2012, Hulk, Thor and Captain America all had their own profitable movies, though Iron Man's first solo film was still the best-received critically of the bunch. Downey and Stark were two of the movie's anchors, and his $10 million salary reflected that. This $10 million became his base salary for next several films. The Avengers proved an astonishing success, earning $1.5 billion worldwide and leaving other studios scrambling to try and duplicate the success Marvel Studios was seeing. Due to the immense success of the film, back-end deals ended up bringing Downey's haul up to $50 million.
RUNNING TOTAL: $72 million
IRON MAN 3 (2013)
Downey's $10 million salary/$50 million total phase continued for the third and final Iron Man movie. Though it disappointed some hard-core fans, the movie was the highest-grossing Iron Man film, with a 1.2 billion dollar haul.
Although he wouldn't get a solo movie again, Iron Man certainly didn't take a backseat, as he still played a prominent role in the universe after this point. And he was definitely compensated accordingly.
RUNNING TOTAL: $122 million
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
Age of Ultron earned an estimated $1.4 billion dollars, making it the lowest-grossing of the Avengers films. However, estimates put Downey's earnings as somewhere between $50 million and $80 million. Tony Stark may have been recklessly endangering the world, but Robert Downey Jr. had never been a safer bet.
RUNNING TOTAL: $172 million - $202 million
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)
Civil War was another blockbuster, grossing $1.15 billion worldwide, nearly beating the highest-grossing Iron Man. Downey made approximately $50 million to play Captain America's enemy. However, that's not including profit-sharing, back-end and a $5 million bonus for surpassing the previous Captain America movie's box office. That puts his haul just a little shy of $64 million.
As a note, scenes from Civil War were repurposed for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and it's not totally clear at this time what, if anything, Downey was paid for that.
RUNNING TOTAL: $236 million - $266 million
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)
Spider-Man is one of the most universally recognized characters in the world, and Homecoming represented Peter Parker's first solo adventure under the Disney banner. The movie itself made a strong $880 million across the globe, but it's Downey who ended up making out the best. Downey made at least a million dollars for each of those minutes for approximately 10 minutes of screentime, putting his earnings on the film between $10 million and $15 million.
RUNNING TOTAL: $246 million - $281 million
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)
Infinity War represented the first part in the culmination of the MCU so far, which Downey had helped launch with the success of Iron Man. The film ended up earning more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office, netting Downey at least $75 million.
RUNNING TOTAL: $321 million - $356 million
AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019)
Many went into Endgame figuring it'd be Downey's last appearance as Iron Man, and they were inevitably proven right. Although Tony Stark couldn't take it with him, Downey's last MCU paycheck earned him around $75 million, with the rumored 8% back-end deal earning him an extra $55 million for this film alone. As Endgame is still in theaters, its total haul might change a bit, but film is close to becoming the highest-grossing movie ever, just shy of $2.8 billion.
RUNNING TOTAL: $396 million - $435 million
Considering just how much money Downey's movies ended up racking up, he was probably worth that initial $500,000 deposit, having gone on to earn more himself than Iron Man did over its entire domestic run at the box office.