Marvel is making everyone money. Disney and Marvel Studios are rolling in cash following the success of films like The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and more recently, Captain America: Civil War. With this much success, it should be no surprise that any of the stars of Marvel films are receiving significant paydays of their own. Sometimes, these paydays are only the latest in a long line of incredibly successful career decisions. In other instances, these paydays were career revitalizers or launchers-- ones that allowed stars to enter the spotlight in ways they hadn’t in a long time.
Marvel’s actors are among the most dominant names in Hollywood, and Marvel’s ability to acquire loyal and consistent talent is one of the hallmarks of its success as a brand. The announcement of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel only furthers this idea, and it suggests a great deal of promise for the future of Marvel after its current group of stars dissipates. Marvel’s actors are often required to go to extraordinary lengths to inhabit their roles, whether that means some sort of crazy make-up or an intense workout routine. As difficult as these efforts may be, they’re ultimately worth it for everyone involved, especially the actors.
Here are The 15 Richest Actors In The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
15 Don Cheadle - $35 million
Cheadle was one of the few actors who joined the Marvel ensemble because of recasting. War Machine was supposed to be Terrence Howard’s part, but when he asked for too big a raise on Iron Man 2, he was replaced by Cheadle. The irony, of course, is that Cheadle’s checks from Marvel, although smaller than the ones Howard was requesting, were still large enough to land him a spot here. Cheadle’s had a prolific career outside of Marvel, of course, and has amassed a net worth of roughly $35 million.
Cheadle’s work as War Machine is only the latest entry in a long career that includes more critically beloved fair like Hotel Rwanda and even the controversial Crash. Cheadle has also established a steady career on television in Showtime’s House of Lies. Still, it’s his role as Tony Stark’s supportive friend that earns him the biggest paydays, and they’re ones that Terrence Howard may kill for today.
14 Josh Brolin - $35 million
Perhaps the only actor on this list who has yet to film the brunt of his scenes for Marvel, Brolin has nonetheless built a solid career for himself. His net worth is currently estimated at $35 million, tying him with Cheadle for a place on this list. Brolin’s worth is built on a steady career of roles in critical smashes like No Country for Old Men and commercial hits like The Goonies, which Brolin starred in quite a while ago.
As Thanos, Brolin is promising to bring some extra servings of menace to his performance in the Marvel universe. Thanos is meant to be the ultimate enemy, and his existence has been teased ever since the first Avengers way back in 2012. Whether Brolin will live up to this idea remains to be seen, but if one thing is clear, it’s that his career and success thus far give audiences a reason to hope.
13 Jeremy Renner - $35 million
Renner has been everywhere in Hollywood over the last few years, so his inclusion on this list was a sure thing. Although not every project he takes on is a success, whenever Renner has a bow and arrow on his back, the films he’s in seem to do fairly well. Renner’s work as Hawkeye has done its fair share in earning the actor a spot on this list, with a reported net worth of $35 million, but he’s also worked outside the Marvel universe in fairly successful films like American Hustle and the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker.
Hawkeye may be one of the more undervalued members of the Avengers team, but his existence has at least done the actor portraying him some good. While the character briefly appeared to be in retirement, he was quickly pulled out by Captain America for that wonderful airport battle in Civil War. Even so, the character’s future is an uncertain one, so we should treasure every arrow he shoots from here on out.
12 Chris Evans - $40 million
Captain America himself has done pretty well for himself since donning the red, white, and blue way back in 2011’s The First Avenger. Evans has a reported net worth of $40 million, which comes largely from his work in Marvel films, but also from other roles he’s taken during his short breaks between Marvel films. Still, Evans mostly has his work as the most patriotic Avenger to thank for his enormous net worth.
Evans work as Captain America is among the best being done in any Marvel film, and that becomes especially clear when one considers how successful the Captain America movies have been, even without a superpowered team to draw audiences (with the exception of Civil War, of course). It’s unclear when exactly Evans is planning to pass the mantle on, but audiences will definitely see the actor back in action for Infinity War, and hopefully far beyond that.
11 John C. Reilly - $45 million
John C. Reilly’s almost a bit player in Guardians of the Galaxy. He only has a handful of lines, and he mostly exists to provide his own off-kilter brand of comedy. Still, his role is enough to land him on this list, though he likely has a lengthy career to thank for his estimated net worth of $45 million. Reilly’s career has given him a plethora of diverse roles to play, from broad comedies like Stepbrothers and Talladega Nights to more arthouse fare like Magnolia.
There are very few things Reilly seems unable to do, and his presence seems to be in high demand among a particular subset of filmmakers. He’s the kind of actor who is impossible to pin down, and chooses to defy definition. There are very few actors more capable of diverse performances than John C. Reilly, and his spot on this list is a testament to the consistently excellent work he’s done.
10 Glenn Close - $50 million
Despite her rather small role in Guardians of the Galaxy, Glenn Close has built a stellar career during her lengthy time as an actress, earning her an estimated net worth of $50 million. Close is another actor who doesn’t really have Marvel to thank for her enormous success. Instead, her success is at least part of the reason why Marvel desired her for the role of Nova Supreme. Close brings a certain gravitas to the screen that only experienced actresses like her can muster, and that’s the kind of presence she brought to Marvel.
Close’s work prior to joining the Marvel universe included an array of roles in everything from Fatal Attraction to Hook. Her career spans decades and suggests incredible versatility. Glenn Close knows how to behave in front of a camera, and it’s this kind of experience that made her invaluable to Marvel, no matter what size her role.
9 Natalie Portman - $54 million
The first of several Thor actors to crack this list, Portman’s career has always been marked by incredibly smart career decisions-- ones that have given her a Best Actress Oscar and a reported net worth of $54 million. Portman appeared in both Thor films as scientist Jane Foster, who takes a romantic interest in Thor and eventually becomes a crucial figure in both films. Portman’s work has taken her outside the realm of Marvel, though, and into roles in all three Star Wars prequels, which, despite their reputation, still made a great deal of money.
Like many on his list, Portman is also helped by a long career, one that spans several decades and has already earned her a great deal of acclaim. It’s unclear whether Portman will ever resurface within the Thor universe, but she’s another example of Marvel’s ability to acquire an incredible array of talent for their films.
8 Bradley Cooper - $60 million
Cooper’s meteoric rise to prominence is among the most fascinating in recent Hollywood history, but it’s no wonder that he landed a spot here. As Cooper's stock rises, so does his net worth, now clocking in at an estimated $60 million. While Marvel has certainly had something to do with Cooper’s rising finances, his work in films like American Sniper and The Hangover, both certifiable hits in their own right, have surely been a part of the picture as well.
Cooper is set to take on the role of Rocket Raccoon again for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and also has a remarkably diverse slate of live action roles coming up. Cooper has proven to be a versatile talent, and his looks don’t hurt either. While Marvel may not choose to take advantage of that particular aspect of Cooper’s talent, it’s clear that they use him effectively as the angry, sarcastic raccoon everyone loves to smirk at.
7 Gwyneth Paltrow - $60 million
Though Paltrow has not had the hugest role in the Marvel universe, she is among the richest actors, in part because of her long career. Paltrow is reportedly worth $60 million, and her role as Pepper Potts has certainly contributed to that hefty total. Still, Paltrow’s work has also won her an Oscar and an Emmy, as well as making her into Tony Stark’s equal. Paltrow has also established a successful lifestyle brand called Goop.
Although Civil War reveals that the pair have hit a rough patch, Tony and Pepper work together to run Stark Industries, and it’s Pepper who ultimately saves the day in Iron Man 3. Since Paltrow did not appear in Civil War or Age of Ultron, it’s unclear exactly when the character will reemerge and in what capacity. What is abundantly clear, however, is that Paltrow’s presence lights up the screen, and makes her a convincing match for even Robert Downey Jr.
6 Chris Hemsworth - $60 million
One of the richer members of the Avengers, Chris Hemsworth is actually tied with both Cooper and Paltrow with a reported net worth of $60 million. Hemsworth was relatively unknown when he was cast as the Norse God in 2011’s Thor, but his stock has only risen since then, even despite the somewhat limited success of Thor and its sequel. With movies like Snow White and the Huntsman and even the latest Ghostbusters, Hemsworth has created a diverse portfolio of films outside the Marvel universe that he can return to when he isn’t filming an Avengers movie.
Hemsworth’s stock will only continue to rise in the coming years, as his work with Marvel is far from over. Thor: Ragnarok is a promising entry in the franchise, one which may further elevate his net worth. Hemsworth is a handsome blond in his mid-thirties, so it’s unlikely the man will ever be out of work. Even so, his success is admirable, and that’s reflected in the piles of money he probably swims in.
5 Vin Diesel - $75 million
Although he’s only appeared in one Marvel film, and never in the flesh, Vin Diesel has another incredible series of film to thank for his high placement on this list. Worth an estimated $75 million, Vin Diesel has been the star of all seven Fast and Furious films, and their combined gross alone can explain his incredibly high net worth. Still, Diesel’s work as Groot has likely contributed to his good fortunes in some capacity, and it’s not as Groot is a terribly difficult role to play.
In spite of his somewhat limited vocabulary, Groot was undoubtedly one of the best parts of Guardians of the Galaxy, and Vin Diesel’s voice is one of the few with enough depth to truly give the part meaning. When the giant living tree sacrifices himself, it’s hard to remain dry-eyed, and that’s in large part thanks to Diesel’s performance. He has the rare gift of saying a lot with a little, and it’s used perfectly in this role.
4 Scarlett Johansson - $80 million
Scarlett Johansson’s the richest woman on this list, and that fact isn't particularly shocking. She’s one of the world’s biggest movie stars and has the net worth to go with it, estimated at roughly $80 million. Johansson’s been a part of the Marvel universe since its earliest days, and her work as Black Widow has certainly done its part for her financially, even if we have yet to see her in a solo film. Even so, Johansson’s also proven to be a valuable star outside the Marvel universe, with films like Lucy and The Jungle Book smashing box office records with Johansson’s help.
The incredibly busy actress has been working for years now, and was recently named the highest grossing actress of all time. She’s the main representative for femininity in most Marvel projects, and so her role is an incredibly important one. Black Widow is a woman who kicks ass and Johansson plays that wonderfully.
3 Anthony Hopkins - $160 million
Hopkins has had one of the longest careers of any Marvel actor, so it’s no surprise to see his name on this list. Hopkins's role as Odin in both Thor films is merely the cap on a fantastic career, one that includes an Oscar win and a fair number of legendary characters, from Hannibal Lecter to Richard Nixon. As Odin, Hopkins is able to use his years of acting experience to create an aura of quiet power. He plays the father of two incredibly powerful sons, but he’s also the man in control, which is clear if you look at his estimated net worth of $160 million.
The Thor films benefit enormously from the experience that Hopkins brings with him to the role, and it’s his ability to adapt his work to any kind of character that makes him a joy to watch. Hopkins is one of the world’s most talented actors, and his work in Marvel says more about Marvel than it does about him. They know how to recruit talent, and in Hopkins, they’ve found just that.
2 Samuel L. Jackson - $170 million
A frequent member of the Marvel squad, Jackson’s Nick Fury is responsible for uniting the Avengers, so it only makes sense that Jackson would see a significant paystub for his role. Still, Jackson’s success traces back long before his involvement with Marvel. Lest it be forgotten, Jackson had an extensive role in all three Star Wars prequels, which surely contributed to his estimated net worth of $170 million. Jackson has always been a busy actor, squeezing in tons of projects in between his work as the one-eyed Nick Fury.
In his role as Nick Fury, Jackson’s character has been charged with uniting the Avengers, although his role has been more limited in recent films. He didn’t appear at all in Captain America: Civil War, and it’s unclear what the future of the character may be. Still, Jackson certainly got in on the ground floor of the MCU and his work as Nick Fury will live on in the films that come after the actor hangs up his eyepatch.
1 Robert Downey Jr. - $220 million
It’s probably no surprise that Downey is the top dog on this list. He’s raked in huge paydays on every Marvel film, and he’s been in more of them than almost any other character. Downey’s estimated net worth is $220 million, and it’s only rising. Honestly, the actor deserves the paycheck. He and Marvel bet all their chips on each other when they launched their cinematic universe way back in 2008 with Iron Man.
It’s easy to forget that before Iron Man, Downey wasn't exactly in demand. After a battle with drug addiction, the actor was seen as a toxic asset, and many were hesitant to hitch their horse to his wagon. Enter Marvel, a floundering studio in need of a verifiable star. The actor and the studio truly needed each other, and the partnership has been a beneficial one for eight years. It’s unclear when Downey’s last appearance in the role might be, but one thing is abundantly clear. The world would be a very different place if he hadn’t agreed to play Tony Stark.
Captain America: Civil War will be available on VOD September 2, 2016, and DVD/Blur-ray on September 13, 2016.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.