Marvel Studios: Screwing Up Or Being Sensible?

Published 6 years ago by

marvel Marvel Studios: Screwing Up Or Being Sensible?

There was much joy and celebration when Marvel Comics formed its own studio for the purpose of producing films based on their extensive library of characters. They would have creative control over how their cadre of superheroes would be portrayed on the big screen – as opposed to handing the rights over to Sony Pictures or Fox Studios.

While Sony did all right with the first two Spider-Man movies, the third was pretty much reviled by hard core fans – and Fox, while they didn’t do badly on the first two X-Men films, the third was a disappointment. And of course let’s not forget Electra and Daredevil which where underwhelming to say the least.

And indeed it seemed like an awesome thing when the first-born film from the studio was the mega-hit Iron Man. Not only did it gross half a billion dollars in theaters, but it set (at the time) records for Blu-ray sales in addition to tons o’ cash from DVD and other merchandise.

Then came The Incredible Hulk, which while not a huge box office success, did (as far as I know) turn a profit for Marvel. For icing on the cake, they made clear they wanted to create an interconnected movie universe, with characters from films appearing in other characters’ movies – all leading up to the penultimate event: The Avengers movie.

Add to this inspired casting choices: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk, and even Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It looked to continue with casting newly-hot-again Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2.

All was right in the world (for comic book geeks, anyway).

But then, cracks began to appear in the house of Marvel Studios. First we learned that Terrence Howard would not be returning to reprise his role as James Rhodes in the sequel. Truth be known, I didn’t shed a tear over that – while Howard is a great actor, he didn’t work for me as “Rhodey.” Then a few days ago came word that Sam Jackson would NOT return as Nick Fury in subsequent Marvel films. We know that Jackson hoped for a larger role in Iron Man 2, but it seems that it is not likely to happen.

The reason behind these two changes? Money.

Now comes word that Marvel has offered Mickey Rourke $250,000 to appear in the sequel. From the unofficial announcent, it seemed that Rourke would play a significant part in the film.

From Variety:

“Then there is comeback kid Mickey Rourke, who is poised to follow his Golden Globe-winning performance in ‘The Wrestler’ with an offer to play the main villain in ‘Iron Man 2′ – but at a lowball opening offer of $250,000 from Marvel; Marvel’s tactics have already prompted Samuel L. Jackson to swear off playing Nick Fury because of a similarly low offer.”

So the knee-jerk reaction is to flail on Marvel, calling them cheapskates, yadda yadda yadda. Now that may very well be the right reaction, but what about the other side of the coin (so to speak)?

What we don’t know (apart from Rourke) is just how much money these actors were offered to reprise these roles. My understanding of the Terrence Howard situation is that he was the first actor hired for Iron Man when the studio was trying to lure in some big time talent – and thus he was paid very highly for the role. More than even Robert Downey Jr. Apparently Marvel wanted to adjust that to a more realistic number which was far lower than his initial pay day and he balked.

Then we have Sam Jackson – I have NO idea how much the man makes, but lets take a look at the last few movies he’s done:

  • The Spirit
  • Soul Men
  • Lakeview Terrace
  • Jumper
  • Cleaner
  • 1408
  • Resurrecting the Champ
  • Home of the Brave
  • Black Snake Moan
  • Snakes on a Plane

The man gets a lot of work, but is he really that big a box office draw? Personally I like him on screen (although I really need to erase his performance in The Spirit from my brain), but who knows what he might be asking for a very small role in the film?

Yes, I know – the studio made a bazillion dollars off Iron Man. But could it be at least a possibility that Marvel is trying to be realistic in pay for these big name stars? I know this will open a can of worms, but for example $10 million for three or four months work on a movie set? Please.

“Oh, but look at how much money the studio makes” I hear you cry… Well yes, you are correct. But when you risk hundreds of millions of dollars aren’t you entitled to a huge reward for all that risk?

Don’t buy that argument? Well then do you think maybe anyone else involved in the film might have contributed to its success? The director, perhaps? Producers who do all the logistics? Computer artists who sit in dark rooms making fantasy photo-realistic?

It’s funny, people talk about how exhorbitant the pay of CEOs is compared to “regular” office workers, but it doesn’t occur to anyone to apply that to the movie industry.

Now I could be totally off base here, and Marvel Studios is just being a cheap tightwad – especially given the fact that you can pretty much guarantee another half billion at the box office.

So what do YOU think? Is Marvel being cheap… or realistic?

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  1. i dont care who gets paid what as long as there is robert i dont give a crap

  2. Don’t know about anyone else but I think Marvel is being a little TOO cheap on these actors. I understand that the little guys are the ones who should get the creds but in reality, it’s the stars and their performances/box-office draw that brings in the crowds;lets be realistic here. A movie’s success depends on the performances that an actor/actress brings to the roles they play. Without them, they’ll flop. I’m glad Warner Bros is not being cheap with Bale because without him, Batman Begins and especially The Dark Knight would NOT have been successful without it’s lead star. Just look at how many talented actors those two films combined have. They be stupid not to pay them high salaries and I don’t want to see anyone other than Bale as Batman. Sorry but that’s my 2 cents.

    The thing is this: If Marvel or any studio for that matter wants a high-grossing film, then they better pony up the dough. If not then you can rest assured that DC WILL kick their assess.

  3. @DarkGritty

    Sorry, I disagree. Lots of movies with unknown actors make boatloads of money and lots of movies with big name stars bomb big time.


  4. Personally I would be willing to bet that Sam Jackson didn’t even see the offer Marvel made but instead his agent told him that they were insulting him by making such a low offer (what ever it was) and once they see how much they need him they will him what he deserves.
    Said agent knows he gets a cut of what SAM gets offered. low offer to Sam means less of a cut for him, and lord knows that that can’t happen. Honestly I think that the agents(and others like them) looking to get their cut for doing JACK SH*T (other than saying my client demands more money) are the ones that should be removed from the equation and boom you keep your A-list actor and still free up millions in cash.
    NOTE: I am not an idiot… I KNOW that would be a cold day in hell; its just wishful thinking.

    “you can rest assured that DC WILL kick their assess.”
    looks like in making JLA DC may have screwed the pooch before it began with the idea of hiring C-list actors most of which don’t fit the profile. When you decide to try and replace Christian Bale with D.J. Cotrona as Batman you are asking for either a cheap movie that will be an utter disappointment or a fanboy riot, and the rest of the cast appears to be more cheap solutions to answer to question of “How do we counter the MARVEL MOVIE THREAT”

  5. I agree 100% Sam jackson isnt a drawing card to cinema’s as good of an actor as he is. and the only scene he was in in iron man was at the end of the credits, id dare say unless you are a major comic fan you wouldnt have even sat through the credits to see it. so it shouldnt honestly make the slightest bit of difference to the success of the follow up, id say most people will be returning to see downey’s heleriously charming portayal of stark.

  6. They are being CHEAP. there is a big difference between 250,000 and 10 million. are you telling me that the large rolled actors dont deserve somewhere in the middle? NO actor should make less than a mil is they are playing a significant part in a movie. i dont care if its mickey rouke or not.

  7. Thier first MISTAKE was trying to attract quality actors? The “success” of previous Marvel comic films is well documented. Only after they made their “first mistake” did they achieve any level of box office success with their film-versions. It seems they have forgotten the formula for their success and are prepared to produce the same kind of mediocre crap they always did when it comes to thier films.