Robert Downey Jr. can pass for one of those inspirational characters you hear about on TV – except he doesn’t give long speeches and is altogether much, much cooler. But the actor has managed to restore his career from an uninsurable disaster to the highest paid actor in Hollywood – according to Forbes, the actor brought home $75 million between June 2012 and June 2013, putting him at the top of the money magazine’s actors chart. While the number itself doesn’t account for taxes and other deductions, the indisputable fact is that Downey has made one of the biggest comebacks in showbiz history. So far, he has starred in six movies, which have broken the billion mark and just his name attached to a project means its success is almost guaranteed.

Robert Downey Jr., Jimmy Kimmel Live
Downey is the comeback king.

Downey earned his reputation with his role as Iron Man in the Marvel franchise. So far, the actor has played the character in four films – three standalone Iron Man flicks and, of course, the phenomenally successful Avengers, for which Downey got the biggest payday out of everyone involved – reportedly earning more than director Joss Whedon himself. It makes sense, because by now it’s become abundantly clear to studio heads that the Avengers franchise could not thrive with anyone other than Downey.

Robert Downey Jr., Beverly Hills
He mostly has The Avengers to thank.

The first film in the franchise earned $585 million at the global box office. Overall the franchise has brought in $2.4 billion, according to Forbes. And of course, there’s The Avengers, which, on its own, has already raked in over $1.5 billion in global profits. So Downey’s position on the list isn’t surprising at all. The actor is followed by Channing Tatum in second place and, despite his questionable choices with the Wolverine movies, Hugh Jackman in third.

Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man 3 Premiere
Or is it the other way around?