The future of Marvel's Avengers as they exist now hangs in the balance as the studio is preparing to go into talks with Robert Downey Jr.
However the star, who received a colossal $50 million for 'Avengers Assemble', is thought to be fighting for a pay rise for his superhero co-stars who each made a comparatively tiny $200,000 from the movie.
[Related story: Iron Man will continue with or without Downey Jr]
Marvel Studios bosses and Downey Jr are said to be currently negotiating his role in both 'The Avengers 2' and 'The Avengers 3', heading from Marvel's 'phase two' plans and into the realm of 'phase 3'.
So far, says the Hollywood Reporter, there's no talk yet of an 'Iron Man 4', with Downey Jr remaining vague about whether he will play Tony Stark again in a stand-alone movie.
What is known, however, is that signing the actor for the 'Avengers' sequels will almost certainly cost the notoriously frugal studio heavily.
With his various percentage and profit sharing deals, he made a colossal $50 million for 'Avengers Assemble', a fee he himself called 'crazy' in an interview with GQ magazine, adding that the studio was 'p*ssed' that he made so much from the film, despite it taking $1.5 billion at the box office.
According to Deadline, he's already made $35 million from 'Iron Man 3', but it's now thought that Downey Jr is leading the way for the other actors in the Marvel sequels to get substantial pay rises for the future films if they want him to re-sign.
One source told Deadline: “He’s the only guy with real power in this situation. and balls of steel, too. He’s already sent a message that he’s not going to work for a place where they treat his colleagues like sh*t.”
Marvel producer Kevin Feige has said that the character of Iron Man will endure, with or without Downey Jr, but that would be in a future incarnation or a rebooted version some time in the future.
But while Downey Jr would be near impossible to replace as Tony Stark without ruining continuity in the current series, it's possible that other Avengers could be replaced in the forthcoming films, particularly the likes of the Hulk, who has been played by several actors in recent years.
'The Avengers 2' is due for May 1, 2015, while other Marvel projects in the offing include Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man', 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and mooted projects including 'Dr Strange', 'Iron Fist' and 'Black Panther'.