Two years ago, Marvel‘s reputation for being careful with money when it came to talent became very public. The tough negotiations the studio was having with the ensemble of actors to return for “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron” spilled out into the trades. The various negotiations were resolved, and even Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, who had from time to time strongly intimated they were ready to walk way from the series, are now more than ever happy to participate. But that hardly means Marvel has changed their methods.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Joss Whedon reveals that it was only during the making of “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron” where he finally understood “what it feels like to get paid.” Indeed, he claims he earned more making his own “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” than he did directing the first ‘Avengers’ movie.
“They are in the business of hiring the guy who hasn’t had a big success, because they don’t have to pay that guy very much,” Whedon notes.
Just ask Joe and Anthony Russo. The new darlings of the Marvel-verse, who demonstrated their chops with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and are now set for both “Captain America: Civil War” and the two-part “The Avengers: Infinity War” also revealed they made more doing TV work than they did for ‘Winter Soldier.’
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“We’re very, very happy with how we’re being compensated now,” Anthony Russo told the paper about the new deal they’ve inked for the movies going forward.
Simply put, Marvel aims to spend less because it allows them to pocket more. It’s probably easy to imagine that Warner Bros. is spending a lot more to line up A-list stars and Oscar winners like Ben Affleck (“Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice“), Will Smith (“Suicide Squad“) and Jared Leto (also in “Suicide Squad”), not to mention well known helmers like David Ayer (again, “Suicide Squad”) and Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman“). It’s a marked difference in approach between two studios doing very different things with their comic book properties, from both a production standpoint and creatively. Whedon says he couldn’t be happier as such.
“I’m a fan. I get very confused when people are like ‘you guys are in competition.’ I’m like, ‘In competition for what?’ Because their movies are so different and the way they approach them…the Marvel aesthetic and the DC aesthetic, they couldn’t be more opposite, and I love that. I love going to their movies,” he told MTV, noting he’s looking forward to BVS:DOJ.
As an observer, it will be interesting to see how both Marvel and DC will adapt as the landscape becomes filled with even more comic book movies from rivals like Fox and Sony. Will Marvel have to start spending more? Will WB learn to cut down costs? Time and box office results will tell.