Marvel Comics Creators Blame ‘Bait and Switch’ Payment Company

Disney and Marvel came under fire last year over talent pay. First we had Scarlett Johansson upset that she wasn’t getting the money she claimed Disney promised her for ‘Black Widow’ and now we have Marvel comics creators coming forward to report the same , although on a much smaller scale.

Johansson had Hollywood backing and a lot of clout, so Disney gave in, but what do these creators have?

What happened?

Yelena Belova creators Devin Grayson (writer) and JG Jones (artist) are speaking out after believing they would receive $25,000 each for their character’s appearance in Black Widow. Instead, they each received around $5,000, with no explanation.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo were led to believe that they would each receive $25,000 for Disney/Marvel’s use of the character they created in 1999 in the Black Widow film.

This prompted Grayson to try to find an answer to why the sum was much smaller than they thought they had agreed to when they signed Marvel’s “Special Character Agreement”.

THR explained that this agreement is “a payment system initiated by Marvel if Yelena appears in other media. The deal, signed in 2007, appeared to indicate that Grayson would receive $25,000 for an appearance in a theatrical movie, $2,000 for a TV episode longer than 30 minutes and $1,000 for a TV episode 30 minutes or less. . For action figures, the deal entitled him to $5,000 for one figure released in a single year, $10,000 for two, or $25,000 for three or more. For video games, there would be a maximum of $30,000 to be shared among all creators who had characters in the game.

However, this is where it gets, in my opinion, crummy. Marvel also buried language in the document that gives Marvel the option of lowering payments, even though the $25,000 is supposedly “prominently listed in the documents.”

Of course, after Grayson got 1/5 of what she expected, she sought the help of a lawyer and here’s what they found out.

$25,000 is the amount to be split between the writer and artist and any other creators who would be involved in the characters used. So, instead of even $12,500, Disney gave money from the $25,000 to people involved in creating other characters in the movie. Reduce it even more.

But Disney thinks it’s fair according to a Marvel “source” THR says they spoke to: “A Marvel source notes that there is no cap on the total amount paid to creators for a project, and that it can be increased depending on what is deemed fair. Given that, he likely paid over $25,000 in total to artists and writers with a Black Widow claim.

Disney makes millions, maybe billions on these properties and they think giving $5,000 to the creators is a fair trade. I bet they paid their lawyers more than they paid the creatives, just to find hidden ways to pay less, when the creatives seemed to believe they were getting a lot more.

Grayson’s partner JG Jones confirmed a similar payment and was the one to call it “bait and switch” saying: “After speaking to a number of creators, Marvel’s financial offers seem a bit of a bait and switch. They throw away a lot of them, then little by little they reduce the actual payout.

The article goes on to show how creators can get screwed with creative phrasing or character usage schedules. Showing a cameo, where they might not get as many, being any appearance that’s less than 15% of the movie. By this metric, a character like the Winter Soldier would be considered a cameo in a movie like “Avengers: Civil War.”

Marvel also makes it difficult for a creator to get video game payouts by only paying for console games and not mobile games.

Grayson said Disney/Marvel even offered him just $300 per episode for Yelena’s appearance on the Disney+ show “Hawkeye,” despite the deal stipulating $2,000 for an episode longer than 30 minutes. Instead they tried the hell it was $300.

In the end, they signed these contracts, but it seems that misleading information may have been given to these creators to obtain their consent. Who in their right mind would accept a measly $5,000 when Disney is squeezing millions out of these characters?

There is the argument that creators are cash workers and have already been paid. However, this is shortsighted on Disney’s part. What motivation does anyone at Marvel have for creating new characters or epic stories if they’re going to be polished off and watered down by the powers that be?

Just another example of the current year’s “Disney difference”.

Also, I thought Disney was pushing diversity and inclusion for minority groups. Grayson is a Marvel writer. I guess they only care about these things when they can leverage them for publicity. It’s a completely different story when they have to pay.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Elaine R. Knight