A decade after Robert Downey Jr. made $ 50 million for the former Avengers, wearing a superhero costume remains one of the last ways an actor can earn a big payday. With rare exceptions, even A + stars aren’t doing what they did before, as first dollar deals and huge backends have become little more than Hollywood lore.

And, more often than not, iconic characters like Spider-Man and Batman are seen by the studios as more important and valuable than the famous movie stars who play them. A seasoned Marvel star could make a lot of money when he’s in costume: Sources put him at $ 20 million to $ 25 million, which is consistent with what Disney trumpeted about paying Scarlett Johansson during their since-settled dispute over the. day and date Black Widow publication. Florence Pugh, already nominated for an Oscar when she appeared in Black Widow As Yelena Belova, she will receive eight characters for her next two Marvel films, including the cast guide of the ensemble focusing on villains Lightningdue on July 26, 2024. But that level of pay rarely translates into other roles those actors take on.

Superhero paydays vary greatly based on experience. A first-time protagonist of a superhero has remained in the mid-six figure range for the past decade – and a director new to the Marvel or DC universe will also make a six-figure figure for their first superhero movie. That rate can jump two to five times that for a sequel director.

This means that a first-time Marvel director won’t earn a higher payday than they would get for any other studio rate. A rep says, “You do it because you want to make a Marvel movie.”

Meanwhile, others related to comic book universes don’t come close to those numbers. Over the past year, the plight of comic writers and artists has come to the fore, thanks to creators talking about the paltry sums that have been offered.

Devin Grayson, the writer who co-created Yelena Belova in the late 1990s, went public in July with her pay, revealing that she only received $ 5,000 of the $ 12,500 promised for the character’s use in Black Widow. (After THR posted a story with his claims, Marvel agreed to pay the remaining $ 7,500.)

The rates for TV shows are even lower than those for film adaptations (writers and comic artists generally receive direct compensation and no residuals). Grayson was only offered $ 300 per episode of Hawk eye with Yelena, while a co-creator of a title character from a CW show has not yet received any payment for the series. They fear they may never get their pay due to the complications with the Warner Bros. Discovery merger.

Writers and artists are generally reluctant to create characters for Marvel or DC, because they won’t be entitled to riches if those characters become the faces of $ 1 billion movie franchises. Many choose to go the path of independent publishers (think: The Old Guard or The walking dead), where they can make more favorable deals when it comes to keeping their IP. While the vast majority of indie comics don’t cause enviable bidding wars (according to sources, the average option for such a book is between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000), these creators retain more control over their properties and can find others. ways to make money from movies, like being asked to write a screenplay.

Despite the ups and downs of the genre, recent years have shown that even stars who have apparently retired from tights can be lured back into their Lurex. Michael Keaton, who famously exorcised his superhero history with the role of him nominated for an Oscar in Birdmancame out of Batman’s retirement for a trio of roles: Upcoming The flasha cameo Aquaman and the lost kingdom (although it may have been cut) e Bad girl.

Keaton received $ 2 million for Bad girlthe $ 90 million film that Warner Bros. Discovery eventually shelved after participating in about a week of work, described by sources as a glorified cameo.

For Keaton, wearing the costume may be a star’s closest way to living like Bruce Wayne. A merchant says, “If you want to get paid, you have to wear a cloak.”

Courtesy Marvel Studios; Courtesy of Sony Pictures; Rhythm and tonality / Universal images

This story first appeared in the October 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to register now.

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