Thanos creator Jim Starlin had to negotiate with Marvel Studios for a higher salary after his villain became a centerpiece of the MCU.
At the end of March, during the first edition of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” comic book writer Ed Brubaker posted a newsletter in which he said the show and the buzz around it. of him made him feel “a little sick to [his] stomach. ”Brubaker co-created the character Winter Soldier in 2005 with artist Steve Epting. While the MCU and actor Sebastian Stan popularized the character across the world, Brubaker wrote that“ everything Steve Epting and I got to create the Winter Soldier and his story is a “thank you” here and there, and over the years it got harder and harder to live with.
Brubaker exposed a common problem at Marvel: Pay-per-view comic writers and artists aren’t paid for creating the characters and storylines that are now propelling the MCU into film and television. Marvel owns the Winter Solider, not Brubaker, so the studio does not have to pay the writer for the use of the character in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” or any Marvel Cinematic Universe property.
A new report on The Guardian issue mentions other comic book creators who have had to fight to be fairly compensated by Marvel. Jim Starlin, who created Thanos, “negotiated a larger payment after arguing that Marvel underpaid him for his use of Thanos as the MCU’s big bad.” Comic book writer Roy Thomas “got his name added to the Disney + series credits” Loki “after his agent made a fuss.”
As reported by The Guardian: “According to several sources, when the work of a writer or artist features prominently in a Marvel movie, the practice of society is to send the creator an invitation to the premiere and a check for $ 5,000. Three different sources have confirmed this amount to the Guardian. There is no obligation to attend the premiere or to use the $ 5,000 for travel or accommodation; sources described it as a tacit acknowledgment that compensation was due. “
IndieWire has contacted Disney, owned by Marvel Studios, for further comment.
In Brubaker’s case, however, his name wouldn’t even have been on the roster for the “Captain America: The Winter Solider” premiere. Sources told The Guardian that “Brubaker and Epting showed up in tuxedos at the premiere party” for the 2014 MCU Tent Pole and were not allowed in, prompting Brubaker to text Sebastian Stan to let them in.
Sources also told The Guardian that “compensation for contributing to a successful franchise ranges from paying $ 5,000, nothing or – very rarely – a” special character contract “, which allows a few select creators to claim compensation when their characters or stories are used.There are other potential ways to earn more – many former writers and artists are appointed executives and producers of the myriad of Marvel movies, cartoons and streaming series , for example – but these agreements depend on factors other than legal obligation.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has developed a strong relationship with Marvel as the author of an acclaimed “Black Panther” comic. The acclaimed writer also wrote his own “Captain America” series after Brubaker and Epting. The Guardian reports that Coates believes “Marvel has moral obligations to its artists and writers that go beyond contracts.”
“Long before I wrote Captain America, I read [Brubaker and Epting’s] The story of “Death of Captain America” and “Return of the Winter Soldier”, and it was one of the most thrilling stories I’ve ever read, ”Coates said. “I’d rather read it than watch the movies – I love movies too – but it doesn’t seem like they have to mine what Steve and Ed put in there and build a multi-billion dollar franchise.”
Coates added that writers deserve better treatment from studios, regardless of the size of their names and regardless of what their contracts say. “Just because it’s in a contract doesn’t mean it works well,” the writer said. “If I have some kind of influence over you, I can get you to sign a contract to fuck you.” It’s just legalistic.
Head over to The Guardian’s website to read the full Marvel report.