Cameos are the bread and butter of the Marvel Cinematic—or, at the least, they’re a big part of the experience. Ever since Samuel L. Jackson popped up at the end of 2008’s Iron Man, the idea of characters briefly coming and going became an expectation as the MCU grew to new heights.
Well, it turns out that Marvel Studios does, in fact, have a definition for the criteria. Somehow, those rules end up categorizing Chris Evan’s role in Avengers: Infinity as a cameo.
Chris Evans’ Avengers Cameo?
In a piece from The Hollywood Reporter (THR), the outlet talked about the specifics regarding payment from Marvel to the creators of its various characters being utilized in projects. Among the new information was an interesting tidbit about what the company classifies a cameo as.
THR noted that ”if a character appears for less than 15 percent of screen time, that’s considered a cameo,” which includes Captain America’s role in Avengers: Infinity War since his appearance in that film amounted to 7 minutes and 30 seconds (less than 6% of the movie's total runtime):
“Another way Marvel shrinks payments is by classifying some film appearances as ‘cameos.’ According to sources, if a character appears for less than 15 percent of screen time, that’s considered a cameo — and thus, its creators are due less money. By that standard, Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier, a character key to Captain America: Civil War, would be considered a cameo; he appeared in 22 minutes (just under 15 percent) of its 2-hour, 28-minute run time. Ditto for Captain America, who appeared for less than 7 minutes, 30 seconds of Avengers: Infinity War.”
This technicality can factor into how much creators get paid at the end of the day.
The outlet went into more detail, noting that Marvel split the sum of money paid to creators amongst all involved—creators, artists, etc. The pot of gold being pulled from usually sits at $25,000 USD.
It was also shared that the total amount divided can be increased depending on how many people are being compensated:
“For starters, Marvel splits the sum between the writer and artist. So, according to Marvel’s math, the most Grayson could have made from Black Widow is $12,500 — half of a $25,000 pot split with Jones, Yelena’s co-creator. Moreover, if a film features more than one character covered by a Special Character Agreement, the company will share the pot of money among all creators with skin in the game. In other words, she was told, the $25,000 for Black Widow would be shared across all stakeholders, presumably those behind characters such as Red Guardian (played by David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). A Marvel source notes that there is no ceiling to the total money paid to creators for a project, and it might be raised depending on what is deemed fair. Given this, it likely paid more than $25,000 in total to artists and writers with a claim on Black Widow.”
With Black Widow, co-creator Devin Grayson only got $5,000 out of the supposedly promised $25,000.
Artist J.G. Jones exclaimed how he feels that “Marvel’s financial offerings seem a bit of a bait and switch:"
“Having spoken to a number of creators, Marvel’s financial offerings seem a bit of a bait and switch. They throw out a large number, then little by little they whittle down the actual payout.”
Marvel Studios' Cameo Technicalities
Many will likely find it a little ridiculous to see something like Chris Evans' third Avengers appearance be considered a cameo in any way. By the logic allied there, nearly every character would be considered a cameo—though maybe Josh Brolin’s Thanos could squeeze out of the label.
Every time creators speak up, it provides a sad reminder about how they’re generally tweeted. Many of them have publicly spoken out about the company’s “insulting” compensation. The movies simply would never have existed without the characters being used, so the creators should be getting 100 percent more money.
At the end of the day, there are certainly tons of fine print in those contracts that are never seen by the general public. Hopefully, these creators continue to raise their voices because, clearly, Marvel Studios still needs to hear them loud and clear.
Avengers: Infinity War is now streaming on Disney+.