#4. Certain Characters Just Won’t Get Their Own Films
Why is it that we’ve seen five Spider-Man movies, two Hulk reboots, two Ghost Rider movies, two Punisher reboots, a Daredevil movie, and a freaking Ant-Man movie starring two different Ant-Men, and yet plans for a Deadpool movie have been in limbo for half a decade and Marvel’s producers continue to tactfully dodge questions about giving Black Widow her own feature?
There are of course the obvious answers — Deadpool is an R-rated character, and Hollywood is nervous about making R-rated superhero movies, and Black Widow is a female character, and Hollywood loves ignoring the fact that people watch films starring women. But there’s actually a much simpler deciding factor at work here: whether the character wears a mask.
Check this out: Robert Downey Jr. gets paid all of the money in the universe to play Tony Stark, so much so that his salary for The Avengers broke box office records and forced mathematicians to invent a new decimal point. But any time you see Iron Man on screen, that’s not Robert Downey Jr. That’s either a digital effect or some stuntman in a costume getting paid less than the cost of the tires on RDJ’s trailer. The same thing is true for Spider-Man, the Hulk, and any other character that wears a mask or is a CGI dinosaur Hercules.
It allows Marvel Studios to get away with paying the lead actor substantially less money, because the actor isn’t actually on screen all that much. That’s why the amount of time Robert Downey Jr. spends inside an Iron Man costume has gotten progressively shorter from film to film as his asking salary has increased, and why three different actors have played Bruce Banner in three different movies … freaking anyone can be the Hulk.
Meanwhile, Black Widow has become popular enough in her supporting appearances to generate fan support for a solo Black Widow movie. But as you may have noticed, Black Widow does not wear a mask. Scarlett Johansson herself would have to be present for most of the filming, and her status as a leading actress has only increased over the years. That means she’d command a substantial salary, and Marvel is simply not willing to pay it. (In Hollywood, money always comes first; sexism and racism are secondary.)
Now look at Deadpool. For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Deadpool is a hideously disfigured goofball mercenary who can regenerate his body like Wolverine. Deadpool wears a mask, but the difference here is that he wears the mask all the time. In the rare cases where he removes the mask, his face looks like the Hamburger Helper glove if it got stuffed with minced beef and left in a flaming tire dump for 14 hours.
He briefly appeared (pre-face mutilation) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine played by Ryan Reynolds, who is still attached to the solo Deadpool movie should it ever get made. So now Hollywood has the opposite problem: a handsome lead actor that the audience never gets to see. Sure, they can still get away with cramming a much less expensive stuntman into the costume for all of the action sequences, but they still need to fork over the cash to hire a good-enough character actor who can connect with an audience through a mask and 3 pounds of prosthetic scabs. Think of it as the “Jonah Hex Problem.” It’s much more cost effective to have a grunting digital effect smash his way through Times Square than to slap 10 hours of makeup on Ryan Reynolds and his stunt double.
With characters like Captain America and Thor, who are pretty completely visible all of the time, Marvel specifically didn’t hire A-list actors so they could sign them to multi-picture deals locked into relatively small salaries. Chris Evans was recognizable but by no means a headliner, and Chris Hemsworth had been in virtually nothing before tying a cape to his back and babbling in Odinspeak like a Shakespearean stroke victim. And as the Marvel release schedule continues to consist of only two films a year, it becomes less likely that they’ll ever take a chance on a movie they haven’t spent the least amount of money possible to produce.
This is the best logical explanation I’ve heard so far. This whole article is actually really good.