It is a well-known fact at this point that Disney treats its Marvel creators rather poorly, especially when properly compensating them for their creations being adapted. Some were luckier than others, like Jim Starlin, who managed to negotiate an arrangement to get a certain amount of money for use of Thanos outside comics when Disney bought Marvel in 2009.
Regardless, Jim Starlin was still quite vocal about his mistreatment by Marvel and Disney, which culminated in a famous Facebook post from 2017, detailing that he had been paid more by DC for their use of KGBeast in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice than the use of Thanos, Gamora, and Drax by Marvel.
This resulted in Disney renegotiating his original agreement, which Starlin considered “a fairly fair deal," but again, other creators weren't so fortunate.
Recently, former Captain America writer and Winter Soldier co-creator Ed Brubaker came out saying that all he and artist Steve Epting have gotten over the years is "a 'thanks' here or there." However, Brubaker did mention in a later interview that while he was compensated with a "thank you" check, but that it was so insulting he turned it down.
Now, new revelations put an exact amount on that check, and it is indeed quite insulting.
The Guardian has revealed that writers and artists who have their work featured prominently in a Marvel film will be sent an invitation to the premiere by the company and a check for $5,000. Three separate sources confirmed this amount and that they described it as "a tacit acknowledgment that compensation was due."
Marvel declined to comment, with only a Spokesman for the company saying that “We can’t speak to our individual agreements or contracts with talent."
Several sources who have worked with Marvel said that remuneration for their creations contributing to successful franchises varies between the initial $5,000 payment, nothing, or a “special character contract," like Jim Starlin. Other methods of payment are writers and artists being made executives and producers on Marvel’s various projects.
One Marvel creator, who wished to go unnamed, said that he was offered a special character contract, but that it was "really terrible," but that it was that or nothing:
“I’ve been offered a [special character contract] that was really, really terrible, but it was that or nothing. And then instead of honoring it, they send a thank you note and are like, ‘Here’s some money we don’t owe you!’ and it’s five grand. And you’re like, ‘The movie made a billion dollars.’”
Most concerning is that few Marvel creators were even aware that this kind of contract existed, as Marvel had not made it known to them.
According to The Guardian, which has actually seen an application for the “Marvel Special Character Contract," creators can ask Marvel whether their characters would qualify for extra payouts. However, the application stipulates that Marvel reserves the right to reject these appeals if the character is judged to not be original enough to warrant any bonus payout.
RESPECT YOUR CREATIVES, MARVEL
It's unsurprising that Brubaker rejected such a meager check, especially for such a big character like Bucky Barnes, who he helped completely reinvent upon his reintroduction as the Winter Soldier. Yes, they signed these initial contracts years ago before the MCU was even a thing, but today, it's still rather insulting, especially when Disney doesn't even do the bare minimum.
Brubaker and Epting showed up to the premiere party for Captain America: The Winter Soldier but discovered they weren't even on the invite list. Brubaker had to literally text Sebastian Stan, the man who played their character, to let them in.
Disney isn't likely to renegotiate any contracts with creators, and it's likely that newer creators aren't being offered any better contracts, especially if their characters aren't deemed original enough to receive a higher payment for their use. It's high time that Marvel and Disney treated the writers and artists of these characters better.