According to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter (via ScreenRant), Marvel Studios has been using a stringent nomenclature to define the status and significance of character appearances in films, which directly affect the comic creators’ pay. Marvel Studios has to pay creators of comic books royalty fees in order for them to be used in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. This is per contractual obligations. Each Spider-Man movie appearance will be subject to separate fees due to Stan Lee or Steve Ditko who created Spider-Man.
Marvel Studios pays creators based on the time they spend creating their characters in films. According to the report, Marvel designates any characters’ appearance as a cameo if they appear for less than 15% of the film’s total run time. Creators of these creators receive a lower salary due to their shorter screen time. For instance, Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes appears for around 22 minutes in 2-hour and 28-minutes of the runtime of Captain America: Civil War. Despite the significance of this character to the story, he’s only a cameo. This results in Ed Brubaker losing his salary.
Furthermore, any appearances of the character in scenes that were not cut to the end or that ended up being deleted from the edit table are discarded by the regulation. The added screen time may make a significant difference when deciding whether to designate a cameo appearance.
Marvel was previously under scrutiny for its policies towards creators. With a new approach to the characters, the studio has created new backgrounds. However, these films will still be based on the original stories that the creators wrote in comics.
Another report by The Hollywood Reporter stated that the creators of Marvel Comics (as also those from DC Comics), are not satisfied with their treatment from studios. This includes getting credit and the appropriate amount for productions featuring their characters.
The news about Marvel’s partially-funded policies keeping creators from the pay tabs is gaining traction and could have a negative impact on the studios’ relationship.
The Rule Hits Hard in Ensemble Films
It is also unprofitable to creators when their characters are in ensemble films. This refers to the MCU’s star-studded crossovers. Many MCU characters from films such as Infinity War are featured in cameo sections, as Thanos is the main character. Actors like Chris Evans did not get any screen time in the film. In this scenario, Captain America creators get cut pay.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to move forward, it is possible that the impact of this rule for creators will get greater as many of its future projects include fan-service appearances. The studio might push for future team-ups with characters to keep fans informed and allow them to continue to enjoy their favourite characters.
Whether Marvel will correct this issue immediately is up to the studio. Nevertheless, Disney, the parent company of Marvel Studios, is one of the most powerful and financially sound Hollywood conglomerates in the world. This shouldn’t mean that the creators of comics should be left hanging.