While the MCU has made Hollywood history throughout its thirteen-year run, it's important to remember that its characters have a history within the pages of Marvel Comics, too.
Most characters from Marvel films or on Marvel's Disney+ shows were created by writers and cartoonists years before they appeared on screen, and while it's true that the MCU has a creative license, the studio has become somewhat notorious for lowballing Marvel's creators in terms of compensation.
Following the release of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, Captain America writer and Winter Soldier co-creator Ed Brubaker spoke out about the lack of credit he'd received from the studio. Now, months after the fact, the writer feels Marvel got the message and remains hopeful for a "happy ending."
Winter Soldier Co-Creator Supportive Of Marvel Studios
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Winter Soldier creator Ed Brubaker admitted to having now seen Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ and is hoping for "some kind of happy ending" in regard to the studio's lackluster treatment.
When asked if he's now seen the Disney+ series after claiming he would awhile to watch earlier in 2021, Brubaker shared the following:
"Yeah, I watched it. I’ve had a little bit of contact with the people at Marvel since all that stuff went public. I’d been trying to get in touch with them behind the scenes before I said anything in public. The only reason I said anything in public was because I was getting inundated with people wanting my opinion about this or how do I feel. I just started to feel, 'Man, I guess I should just be honest about how I feel about it,' which is, 'I feel kind of like I got f***** over.' Because they didn’t own a movie studio when I wrote that story."
In April, Brubaker went on Kevin Smith and Marc Bernadin's Fatman Beyond show and opened up about his frustrations regarding the inadequate compensation he received from Marvel for having created the Winter Soldier character.
Now, according to Brubaker, he didn't "intend to talk about it as much" as he did, and that despite how he sounded in articles that quoted him, he wasn't "yelling or upset:"
"When I was on Kevin’s podcast, I didn’t intend to talk about it as much as I did. If you listen to the way I’m talking about it [in the podcast], I’m not yelling or upset. I know what the situation is and I’m just explaining the situation. But I sound very aggrieved in some of the articles where they are quoting me. I’m like, 'Well, I was actually laughing when I said that.' It keeps coming up again and again."
In fact, Brubaker claims that Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney over compensation owed to her for Black Widow has thrown his own grievances back into the spotlight; but much like Johansson's story, he too hopes for "some kind of happy ending:"
"Over the last two months, I’ve had people emailing me, 'Why do you keep talking about this?' I say, 'I haven’t said a word about it since the Kevin Smith thing.' But the Scarlett Johansson [lawsuit against Disney over Black Widow] happens and more people talk about it. Until just now I haven’t talked about it to anybody outside of a couple of people inside Marvel. I’m hoping that there will be some kind of happy ending to it at this point, because I feel like they definitely got the message."
Still, all the conversation has been positive for Brubaker, as the writer has received significant support from fans in the wake of the controversy, admitting that it "was nice to see the outpouring of support from all the fans:"
"A lot of other people chimed in about it. It was nice to see the outpouring of support from all the fans. All I kept thinking was, 'Just go buy my other books.' After I was on that podcast, all the Reckless books, all of me and Sean’s books, for several weeks on Amazon were on the top ten graphic novels. I was like, 'Wow. That was nice.' People really did kind of be like, 'What can we do?' They can’t pay me for what Disney is not paying me. What can you do? You can support people’s original work.'"
To The End of the Line?
Brubaker isn't the first creator to speak out about Marvel's lack of credit, as Thanos creator Jim Starlin has spoken out on the matter as well. As these testimonials continue to gain traction, it would seem that Marvel would look to make things right considering how big and profitable the studio has become.
On the other hand, the bigger the studio gets, and the more comic book characters that are integrated into the MCU, the more credit and compensation the studio will owe creators. Also, there's the complicated issue of what is legally owed, since many of these writers put pen to paper before Marvel Studios existed.
However, what many fans and creators are looking for from the studio isn't necessarily what's legally owed, but rather what's rightfully owed.
To date, Marvel Studios has broken the Hollywood mold in terms of its record of success, interconnected storytelling, and willingness to take risks. Hopefully, the studio will continue that tradition by doing what's right instead of the bare legal minimum.