Royalties and creator credits have long been an important topic with the skyrocketing popularity of comic book films in the marketplace. While creators are typically given a payment if a character they create for Marvel Comics is added to the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, the duo behind the creation of Yelena Belova. Devin Grayson and JG Jones are credited with the creation of the super spy and went through a months-long negotiation process with Marvel ahead of the release of Black Widow.
In a new report from The Hollywood Reporter, the pair revealed their agreement allowed them a lump sum payment of $25,000 should Belova appear in the movie. When they got their checks, Grayson confirmed it was just $5,000 — an amount previously reported by many other creators.
"It's like the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. You could win $1 million, but you won't," Grayson told the trade. According to her, there was language in the contract that allowed Marvel to pay out $5,000 though the larger sum was more prominently featured. The report adds the lump sum is typically split between creators, so Grayson and Jones were expecting to split the $25,000 payment.
Jones, although not confirming the amount received, said the discussions with Marvel and a royalty payment came across as a "bait and switch."
"Having spoken to a number of creators, Marvel's financial offerings seem a bit of a bait and switch. They throw out a large number, then little by little they whittle down the actual payout," the artist added.
Sources suggest Marvel's standard agreement with comic creators has clauses in it that greatly reduces the payment. Some roles are considered a cameo by the outfit if they appear in less than 15-percent of the film's runtime. The report points out even Winter Soldier or Captain America met that threshold in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, despite being integral parts to each film.
America Chavez co-creator Joe Casey also spoke out in the piece, revealing he opted not to sign the agreement and receive payment for the character's appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
"Maybe $5,000 means something to some kid in his early 20s that doesn't have a career," the writer concluded. "For a lot of us who have been in the business for decades, it comes off as an insult."
Belova can be seen in Black Widow and Hawkeye, both now streaming on Disney+.
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