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The Highest Paid Actors In The MCU

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most successful film franchises in the history of cinema. With more than 20 movies released in just over a decade, the massive interconnected superhero endeavor has grossed more than $21 billion at the worldwide box office, and currently holds five spots on the top ten all-time worldwide box office list. Naturally, this has meant staggering profits from tickets, merchandise sales, and various other tie-in deals for Marvel Studios and its parent company, Disney. It's also meant many of the actors starring in the films have had a chance to seriously cash in.

In terms of major paychecks for movie stars, the MCU got off to an inauspicious start, with an upfront payout of just $500,000 for Robert Downey Jr. to star in the first Iron Man film. Since then, though, thanks to sequel contracts, bonuses, and gross percentages, many of the MCU's stars have made serious bank, and some of them have joined the ranks of the highest-paid actors in the world. Though Marvel and Disney don't make these numbers public (so we can never really know everything), various sources have given us a good idea of just how much these stars rake in. These are the highest-paid actors in the MCU.

Chadwick Boseman

Marvel Studios has historically done its best to save on upfront costs in production by paying its new stars a relatively small sum for starring in a superhero film, then offering a more significant pay bump in the form of backend compensation like bonuses and box office percentages. This is how Robert Downey Jr. went from earning six figures for Iron Man in 2008 to taking home $75 million for Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. Still, even Marvel's upfront earnings for its stars have grown along with the studio's box office success, and that shows when it comes to stars like Chadwick Boseman. 

Boseman, who debuted as Black Panther in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, got his first solo superhero film in 2018. Black Panther was a worldwide phenomenon and currently reigns as the tenth highest-grossing film of all time, making it Marvel's most successful solo superhero movie effort. Boseman was reportedly paid $2 million to star in the film, which is an impressive number for his first Marvel solo movie. Compared to what the film ultimately earned, though, it feels like Marvel got a bargain.

Brie Larson

Brie Larson's 2019 debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a lot riding on it, and not just because it was an attempt to introduced yet another sub-franchise into the Marvel Studios family. Captain Marvel, starring Larson in the title role, was the studio's first female-led superhero film (Ant-Man and the Wasp, released in 2018, was the first to feature a female character with her name in the title). Fans hoped it would be another breakthrough film for diversity in the genre, much like Black Panther was in early 2018. The film ultimately took in $1.12 billion worldwide, and Larson is set to be a major piece of Marvel's storytelling going forward. The effort paid off.

Even before we all knew what Captain Marvel would be, though, Larson — who was already an Oscar winner for Room when she was cast in the MCU — was looking for a payday that was going to give her a solid foundation, particularly when it came to pay equity with male co-stars. To that end, her ultimate Captain Marvel payday was reportedly $5 million, or ten times what Robert Downey Jr. made upfront to star in Iron Man back in 2008.

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson's filmography is the highest-grossing of any actor on the planet (more than $13.3 billion worldwide), thanks in no small part to his ability to become a part of major franchises even if he's not carrying a leading role at all times. This happened with the Star Wars prequels, where he played a supporting but visible role, and it's happened again with the MCU, in which he's been appearing ever since the post-credits scene of Iron Man back in 2008. 

2019 alone finds Jackson appearing in three different Marvel films, including Spider-Man: Far From Home, and his role in the films ranges from sidekick (Captain Marvel) to cameo (Avengers: Endgame). That makes his overall salary for the flicks very hard to pin down, but Jackson's certainly made an effort to keep on par with some of the franchise's bigger stars. For The Avengers in 2012, he reportedly took home somewhere between $4-6 million after bonuses came in, and for Avengers: Age of Ultron he was among the cast members who reportedly went after at least $5 million upfront, plus even more once the film started to make serious money. There's no word on his Spider-Man: Far From Home payday just yet, but Jackson has said he'd happily keep playing Nick Fury for as long as Marvel will have him, so there's a lot of earning potential left there.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo's journey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a bit different than that of his Avengers co-stars. Before he was in the picture, Marvel Studios launched an Incredible Hulk film starring Edward Norton, who ultimately left the MCU after various creative differences emerged during the making of that film. So, when it came time to make The Avengers, Ruffalo was the only member of the main team who hadn't already appeared in some capacity in another MCU flick. 

That could have put him at a disadvantage, but in the beginning, at least, he mostly kept pace with his co-stars. Ruffalo reportedly joined the club of actors — including Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Jeremy Renner — who managed to earn $2-3 million for The Avengers after bonuses, and then also became one of the team members who pushed for a raise to the $5 million range for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sadly, reliable reporting on what came next for him in terms of pay for Thor: Ragnarok and the last two Avengers movies isn't available at the moment, but here's hoping Ruffalo got his due for continuing his wonderful work as Dr. Bruce Banner.

Benedict Cumberbatch

With the initial success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe out of the way, Marvel Studios had the power and the money to pursue even bigger stars for its follow-up films, and Doctor Strange was the kind of project that seemed to require some movie star energy to really kick it up a notch. Benedict Cumberbatch was already a pop culture fan-favorite (for projects like Sherlock and The Hobbit) and an awards darling (Oscar-nominated for The Imitation Game), meaning he'd need a bigger payday than some of the other Marvel stars got for their first film out. 

For his MCU debut in 2016's Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch reportedly earned £2.5 million, or a little more than $3 million. That solo film, plus his cameo appearance in Thor: Ragnarok and his supporting role in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, bumped his Marvel payday up to about £4.2 million by 2019. Cumberbatch's success in the MCU so far is about to lead to even bigger things. According to The Mirror, the actor is negotiating for a £7.5 million pound (or nearly $10 million) payday for the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel.

Chris Hemsworth

Like the other major "Phase One" MCU stars, Chris Hemsworth had to settle for a relatively low payday at first, but as the films grew in popularity, his initial payday and the bonuses he stood to earn for box office performances continued to climb. Though his Thor payday, like Downey's first Iron Man deal, was relatively small, Hemsworth's pay swelled by the time of the first Avengers film, earning him $2-3 million by the time various box office bonuses had been collected. As the sequels piled up, so too did the higher paychecks. That deal reportedly shot up to $5 million upfront plus future bonuses for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and by the time the "Infinity Saga" neared its Endgame Hemsworth's payout had swelled even more. Sources say he collected something in the range of $15 to $20 million for Thor: Ragnarok, and took home similar paychecks for both Infinity War and Endgame. Plus, the finale of Endgame leaves plenty of room for Hemsworth to keep earning Marvel money in future films.

Chris Evans

There's a remarkable degree of symmetry to the Marvel careers of Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, at least when it comes to the rise of their respective salaries since they arrived in the MCU. Evans, like Hemsworth, arrived with a relatively low payday for Captain America: The First Avenger, but things started to really pick up when it came time to finally assemble the team with The Avengers. Like Hemsworth, Evans reportedly earned a final paycheck in the $2-3 million range for that film, and then started aiming even higher for sequels. Evans was also among the group of actors who angled for a $5 million upfront paycheck for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and then came Captain America: Civil War. Evans reportedly renegotiated a payday of $15 million for that film, and by the time the last two Avengers flicks rolled around, Evans was, like Hemsworth, also aiming for a payday in the $15-20 million range to close out his time in the MCU.

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson is just now getting her own Black Widow solo movie, despite being one of the MCU's longest-serving stars. She first appeared in a supporting role in Iron Man 2, then transitioned into being the first (and for a little while, the only) female member of the Avengers, making her an integral part of the MCU throughout the Infinity Saga. Johansson was an established movie star before the MCU kicked off, so even her earliest Marvel paydays were substantial. She reportedly earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-6 million for her work on The Avengers after collecting various box office bonuses on that film. Her numbers have climbed since then, but for Johansson the best is yet to come. Black Widow will net her a reported $20 million payday for serving as both star and producer.

Robert Downey Jr.

At the time he was cast as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. was considered a major risk, particularly when it came to things like leading a multi-film franchise, thanks to a history of addiction and related criminal charges. Then Iron Man arrived in 2008, and Downey almost immediately hit a new level of stardom. As with many first-time Marvel stars, Downey's actual payday for Iron Man was rather small compared to where he ended up, but bonuses based on the film's box office gross helped him pad that number out. Then, in the wake of the film's success, Downey and his reps started renegotiating, and the paychecks for the Godfather of the MCU just kept getting more zeroes added to them.

Downey was ultimately able to cut a deal with Marvel Studios that allows him to collect a hefty backend earnings percentage not just from Iron Man solo films, but from Avengers movies. The actual percentage is not known, though it's reportedly in the 5-7 percent range, and when you look at the box office returns from those films, that means massive earnings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Downey took home somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 million for Avengers: Infinity War, a number that likely climbed for Avengers: Endgame.