This week, Deadline.com interviewed and ran a pretty long article about the Marvel film company and its CEO/Chairman’s reputation for stingy business practices, quoting and other insiders on dissent amongst the The Avengers actors over inadequate pay and threats on both sides that could affect The The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and beyond. I don't have the personal experience, but I have (casually) studied Hollywood business dynamics and been equally impressed and curious about Marvel’s approach to its current "phases" of films and the somewhat unique achievement that is the Avengers movie(s).
Obviously, most of the Marvel films pre Iron Man were both made and distributed by different studios/companies with vastly differing creative and commercial results So as a film company existing to essentially do ONE THING – translate their comic properties to the screen, large and small - it's really setting a precedent with its approach and success in the last five years. Despite the problems highlighted by Deadline, I think they'll find a way to make The Avengers 2 work with the existing actors even if they have to scale back a few of the existing roles, which seems almost inevitable given talk of Whedon adding new characters.
This could mean scaling-back existing characters' screen time so paychecks are proportionate to workload and the more expensive leading actors have more time to pursue other things. That said, Downey Jr. may be justified by success so far, but he could regret letting or appearing to let his power go to his head with his half-joking talk on the late-night circuit of “renegotiating” contracts - even if he uses that power on behalf of his cast mates. Especially with his past, he was lucky to get Iron Man five years ago and should think about trying to preserve his reputation and thus his luck if he wants to keep working post-Marvel. Also, though Marvel has pulled off a major hat-trick with the way it has coordinated all these properties and made them pay- off, the general output is fundamentally formulaic. That's not necessarily bad or avoidable, but I saw IM3 and it's getting painfully obvious. The same producers and much of the creative talent behind the scenes has been the same from Iron Man on. At some point in each movie, sometimes over and over, they all kind of strike the same chord, both intentionally and unintentionally.
However successful they all are NOW, these otherwise fun cinematic romps might not have the longevity of something like 's Batman movies or even something like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, which is being missed despite the third film's creative lapses by many that aren't satisfied with Marc Webb's reboot. If Marvel doesn't loosen its purse strings and maybe shake up the creative approaches to different films in Phase 2, I think it could quickly lose a lot of respect and devolve into a running joke about how cheaply these movies can be made and how shallow some of these Marvel properties can be if nobody cares who wears the costumes and armors if the price isn't right.