The Marvel movies are a multi-billion dollar franchise. So why aren’t the writers behind the comics getting paid?

The Marvel movies are based on the beloved comic books. Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Ed Brubaker is the creator of one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel franchise.

That character is the Winter Soldier. Brubaker grew up on Marvel comics, and fell in love with Captain America, but – most importantly – fell in love with that character of Cap’s sidekick, Bucky Barnes, the teenage soldier. Bucky was killed off-page, and stayed that way.

Until Brubaker revived him when writing for Marvel.

In the 2005 Captain America comic storyline, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Bucky was rewritten to have never died. Instead, he had fallen off a plane, lost his left arm, been captured by the Russians and brainwashed into becoming a Cold War assassin called the Winter Soldier.

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Brubaker worked on the Captain America comics from 2005 until 2012, showing Barnes redeem himself, become Captain America after Steve Rogers dies (and carrying on the mantle when he returns), and eventually returning to his Winter Soldier codename when things go south.

When the 2014 film Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, it was heavily inspired by Brubaker’s comic run. The film covers the events the majority of the same as the comic, apart from a few changes, such as Barnes and Rogers being childhood friends instead of meeting later in life. Brubaker even got a cameo appearance in the film.

However, this is where things turned sour.

Brubaker revealed in his semi-regular newsletter released in March 2020, when Disney+ show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was released. He stated:

“And of course, today the FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIER show debuts on Disney+, which I sadly have very mixed feelings about. I’m really happy for Sebastian Stan, who I think is both a great guy and the perfect Bucky/Winter Soldier…and everyone at Marvel Studios that I’ve ever met have been nothing but kind to me… but at the same time, for the most part all [artist] Steve Epting and I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a “thanks” here or there, and over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with. I’ve even seen higher-ups on the publishing side try to take credit for my work a few times, which was pretty galling (to be clear, I’m NOT talking about Tom Breevort, who was a great editor and really helpful).”

According to multiple sources, The Guardian reported that comic book writers get “an invitation to the premiere and a cheque for $5,000 (£3,600).” Brubaker seemed to confirm this in the podcast Fat Man Beyond, stating that he ‘turned down a tiny little thank-you check’ because he felt it was an ‘insult.’ He also added that he was watching the third Captain America film, entitled Civil War, and noticed that the side-plot was Barnes training other Winter Soldiers. He said that ‘it was a plotline [he] wrote for a year in [his] comics…and wouldn’t exist without [the comics].’

Fans have been campaigning online for Brubaker to get paid correctly.

Jessica Jdrew on Twitter posted:

However, it is not just Brubaker who has not been credited correctly. Hawkeye writer Matt Fraction reportedly only got the role of being a consulting producer because he knew late night comedian Seth Meyers, who is friends with the director of the Hawkeye TV show, Rhys Thomas. Thomas stated in an interviewwith Uproxx:

[I got in contact with Fraction through] email. Because I started talking to Marvel about it and sort of…got in there… through persistence. But I didn’t know about the Seth connection. But I brought up Hawkeye with Seth… And he was like, “Oh, I know Matt!” And the next thing I know I’m emailing with Matt.

However, artist David Aja only gets a special thanks at the end of the end credits, which most people would probably skip over. Twitter user ExplodingPages posted this photo:

This has not gone unnoticed by fans or Aja himself:

Aja seemed to acknowledge the fan support on Twitter:

Unfortunately, these are just two of many stories of comic book artists not getting the proper credit or pay.

At the time of writing, Marvel has not released a statement.

Words: Katie Bird

Subbing: Francesco Ghanaymi

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