Marvel Lowballs Rourke and Jackson for Iron Man 2

When Marvel fired Terrence Howard from “Iron Man 2″ and replaced him with Don Cheadle, we were more than a little inclined to believe the rumors that Howard was being a pain in the ass on the set, and that it wasn’t really a matter of bucks. Well okay, bucks probably had something to do with it, but Howard was also difficult to work with, we thought. Basically, we took Marvel’s side in the firing. More recently, Sam Jackson went public and floated the idea that Marvel Studios was playing it tight with the cash, and as a result he might not come back as Nick Fury in the sequel, or any other Marvel movie for that matter. So what made Sam get all huffy and puffy?

From the “Iron Man” portion of this particular Variety article, which explains more than a few things:

Then there is comeback kid Mickey Rourke, who is poised to follow his Golden Globe-winning performance in “The Wrestler” with an offer to play the main villain in “Iron Man 2″ — but at a lowball opening offer of $250,000 from Marvel; Marvel’s tactics have already prompted Samuel L. Jackson to swear off playing Nick Fury because of a similarly low offer.

Rourke, as you’ll recall, was recently announced as the supervillain in “Iron Man 2″ alongside Sam Rockwell, but it’s really Rourke who will be doing the tussling with ol Shellhead in the sequel. Now I don’t kow how much Rourke made for his last few movies, but $250,000 sure sounds like a lot to me. Then again, I don’t live in Hollywood or fly around in private jets, so maybe a quarter mil ain’t such a hot number to Rourke, who is currently coming off his best year to date.

So what’s the deal here? Is Marvel turning into a cheapskate who doesn’t want to pay market prices for the talent? (Remember that whole brouhaha with Jon Favreau a while back?) After all, “Iron Man” only made a gazillion dollars, and what are the odds that “Iron Man 2″ is going to meet or even surpass that number? Pretty damn good if you ask me.

Then again, I’d play pretend for $250,000. Call me, Marvel!

Below: “Alright, who’s the wise guy that lowballed me for a sure-fire blockbuster?”