Chris Hemsworth was a relatively unknown actor when he was cast as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over the last decade, he’s played the character in seven films, including cameo appearances. He will now reprise the role for the eighth time in the upcoming fourth Thor film, Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Taika Waititi.
The film is expected to be one of the biggest hits of the year, and Hemsworth’s contribution to the series success isn’t lost on Disney and Marvel. The Thor series in particular has witnessed major ups and downs over the last decade, with Hemsworth himself having gone on the record to have said that he was beginning to lose interest in playing the character after the disappointing experience of working on Thor: The Dark World. His interest in the character was revitalised by Waititi, who revamped the series with Thor: Ragnarok.
Before landing the Thor gig, Hemsworth was perhaps best known for his brief appearance as Captain Kirk’s doomed father in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. Later efforts to bring him back to the series failed to take off, reportedly because both Hemsworth and Chris Pine were asking for larger salaries.
And it makes sense; like Pine, who has gone on to establish himself since debuting as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek films, Hemsworth has also seen his star rise. According to a Variety report, the actor was paid $20 million (over Rs 150 crore as per current rates) for Love and Thunder, which remains a gold-standard figure for movie stars even today, nearly three decades after Jim Carrey began quoting the figure in the 90s. The same Variety report said that both Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock also made $20 million (before backend revenues) on Bullet Train and The Lost City, respectively.
Salaries for streaming projects are significantly higher, because streamers factor in backend revenues in their original offers. For instance, Daniel Craig is reportedly making $100 million for the two Knives Out sequels.
Hemsworth’s $20 million payday for Love and Thunder might feel small as compared to Craig’s potential earnings — or, for that matter, what Robert Downey Jr used to earn for playing Iron Man — but the Australian star has certainly climbed up the ranks in the last 10 years. He made just $150,000 (a little over Rs 1 crore as per current rates) for the first Thor film in 2011. But his salary was increased to $15 million for Ragnarok — more in line with what his co-stars were making. He also made $15 million each for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
“We started saying that the character is the marquee name, and I think that’s still true, but I think we’ve been very lucky and thankful that the actors that imbibe these characters have now become them,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Forbes in 2017. “It’s expensive but well worth it.”
Hemsworth has tried to capitalise on his popularity as Thor, attempting to branch out into different franchises. Sometimes, this has worked, and other times, it hasn’t. For instance, his Men in Black reboot bombed both critically and commercially, but the action film Extraction went on to deliver record-breaking numbers for Netflix. A sequel is in production. Hemsworth will also appear as the villain in George Miller’s currently-filming Mad Max spinoff, Furiosa, and will star in a biopic of Hulk Hogan.