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‘It’s not very surprising’: Marvel Refuses To Pay Full Amount To Creators of Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova After Black Widow Release

The mistreatment of writers and artists has been a norm in Hollywood for quite a while now. To say it’s surprising would be an exaggeration, but the disappointment remains. Marvel, who has produced so many beloved and cherished famous characters, is likewise guilty of this offense. According to an article by The Hollywood Reporter, the character creators of the iconic Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh in Black Widow (2021), claim the firm has a complicated compensation structure that underpays them. 

Marvel has been found guilty of underpaying creators
Marvel has been found guilty of underpaying creators

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Marvel And The Underpayment Of Character Creators

When it comes to their compensation structure, older reports claim that the company’s standard payment for comic book writers is a pitiful $5,000 fee and a ticket to the movie’s premiere. If it sounds ridiculous, that is because it is. The creators of some of the most popular and distinctive characters in the franchise deserve far better than this.

Yelena Belova
Yelena Belova in the Marvel comics

According to the THR article, the creators of Yelena Belova, the fictional character portrayed by Florence Pugh in the much controversial and discussed 2021 Black Widow, had a protracted dispute with Marvel about money for her appearance in the movie. When it comes to matters of compensation concerning this 2021 movie, the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit shocked both Marvel and Hollywood fans. 

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Marvel And Its Complicated Compensation Structure

Further information on the report revealed that the paperwork Devin Grayson and J.G. Jones, the creators of Yelena Belova, signed outlined the amount they would receive for movies, TV shows, video games, and action figures which featured Yelena. 

Black Widow (2021)
Black Widow (2021)

They believed and were under the impression that they would receive $25,000 each for her appearance in Black Widow. However, when Grayson and Jones finally received payment in November, the amount that was agreed on abruptly decreased to only $5,000 — which is a meager amount when you take into consideration the money the studio makes with just each standalone release. 

Read also: 7 Reasons Yelena Is A Way Better Black Widow Than Natasha

A Special Character Agreement that Grayson signed details a Marvel-initiated payment scheme should Yelena appear in other media. The contract, which was signed in 2007, appeared to have said that Grayson would be paid $25,000 for a role in a theatrical movie. That, however, was not the case in reality. 

So, What Went Wrong? 

Black Widow comics
Black Widow in the comics

The contract apparently had language that gave Marvel the power to drastically reduce payments, which is what Grayson discovered and told THR. When compared to the company’s original claim, which was explicitly stated in the contract, the artist claims that this was incredibly deceptive. Grayson was initially happy with what Marvel was offering. However, when their claims contradicted, that is when the artist chose to speak up. 

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How Does The Company Cut Costs?

The artist was assisted by an attorney in determining how Marvel reduced the first amount it explicitly specified.

Marvel
Marvel has ways to cut down costs

First off, Marvel divides the money between the writer and the artist, demonstrating that Grayson may have only earned $12,500 from Black Widow. Half of the initial figure is split with Jones, Yelena’s co-creator. They also learned that the corporation will divide the money among all creators when a movie has many characters who are the subject of a Special Character Agreement. She was informed that the $25,000 for Black Widow would be split among all parties. There is another way in which the company cuts down on its costs – by classifying character appearances in films as “cameos” – which results in the creators not getting enough payment. 

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While the co-creator J. G. Jones has not spoken elaborately about this issue, he confirms that the figures Grayson mentioned are the ones he received as compensation. Hence, as mentioned earlier, artists and writers are deserving of credit and compensation – which they are usually deprived of.

Black Widow is available for streaming on Disney+.

Source: THR