That rhythmic banging sound you hear is from Marvel Studios. It’s the Ghost of Stan Lee kicking his vault on campus, shouting, “Excelsior, my ass! This is not how you treat your people!”
Just when you thought there was nothing Kevin Feige couldn’t turn to gold, comes several first-hand accounts from Marvel Studios’ former employees and partners accusing the company of having incredibly poor working conditions for their VFX artists.
The ballyhoo began on Reddit by u/Independent-Ad419, who began a thread with the headline, “I am quite frankly sick and tired of working on Marvel shows!” That would be considered a trolling account or some nerd aiming for clicks elsewhere. But this is Reddit, home of the AMAs (Ask Me Anything).
Here’s the post, and you ask yourself if this is authentic:
Marvel has probably the worst methodology of production and VFX management out there.
They can never fix the look for the show before more than half the allocated time for the show is over.
The artists working on Marvel shows are definitely not paid equivalent to the amount of work they put in.
The charm for working on a Marvel movie is way over rated now and I would rather be happy working on a TV series after decades and decades of this.
Sorry but had to get it off my chest. 😉Source: r/vfx (Reddit)
Yeah, that’s going to leave a mark. Not even Spidey senses could have prepared Marvel Studios for this powder keg.
For Marvel Studios, Where There’s Smoke…
The post sparked an interesting conversation of more than 200 comments (at the time of this post). And, it wasn’t flattering. It seems u/Independent-Ad419 lit the fuse for some angst to be let out.
Working on Marvel shows is what pushed me to leave the VFX industry. They’re a horrible client, and I’ve seen way too many colleagues break down after being overworked, while Marvel tightens the purse strings.Dhruv Govil (GotG 1, Spider-Man: Homecoming)
So, they were cheap. Despite being a $25 billion company, they want to put a squeeze on their employees and contractors, emotionally and financially. That’s nice. Do they ask for things at the last minute? Surely not.
On Thor they ask for a complete mini-sequence 2 or 3 weeks before deadlineSource: r/samvfx2015
That’s not great. Do they understand, even if their employees are nerds, that they have a life outside of Marvel?
I request to not work on [Marvel] movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, they’re becoming our biggest client. They expect a smorgasbord of options so they can change their mind three more times.Source: r/Mickeym00m00
Evidently, Marvel or Disney has yet to respond to the post. Then again, can you blame them? What do you say if you’re Marvel Studios? “Uh, yeah. You’re going to have butthurt former employees, but c’mon! We have a dope Glassdoor page!”
…There is Fire
Now is when it gets really hot under the Marvel Studios badunkadunk. The Hollywood Reporter reported a scathing claim from inside the hallowed comic walls. Comic writers and artists have made public claims that the way they are paid by Marvel is “bait and switch on payments.”
Writer Devin Grayson and artist J.G. Jones believed they would take home $25,000 each for her appearance in Black Widow thanks to paperwork they signed outlining how much they would receive for films, TV shows, video games and action figures featuring Yelena. But when Grayson and Jones, who created Yelena in 1999, eventually received payment in November, that $25,000 dwindled to about $5,000 without explanation.THR, July 20, 2022
Have you ever said something like, “Man, I would do that for free!” Well, no one means that literally. Being paid is why people keep coming to work. I write because I love it. However, if I wasn’t getting a check, I may find other things to do, like rearranging my sock drawer or color code my underwear.
But this is Marvel!
The company was purchased by The Walt Disney Company in 2009 for $4 billion. Mickey is a sage investor or has Warren Buffett on speed dial because today, Marvel is worth $53 billion.
And yet, Marvel Studios wants to get thrifty with $20,000?! For Marvel, that’s what Robert Downey uses to wipe his iron behind. It would be prudent if they want the kingdom to continue, to invest in their artistic talent.
Grayson goes on in the THR piece with a superb analogy with working in the Marvel experience:
It’s like the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes–you could win $1 million, but you won’t.Devin Grayson, THR, July 20, 2022
Another out-of-date practice is the timing of movie appearances. “If a character appears for less than 15 percent of the film’s runtime, that’s considered a cameo, and this also reduces the amount creators are entitled.” And then, there was that time Scarlett Johansson accused Disney of breach of contract. Again, it comes down to money.
This is one of the few black eyes Marvel Studios has received. The sting of the news will go away, but now that some people feel empowered to bring the darkness to the light–watch out! Feige and friends need to make this right and pay their artists.
Until further notice, there is now one thing DC Comics and Warner Bros. have over Marvel Studios. Uh, what was that? Joss Whedon did what again…eh, sorry. Forget that last part.