“That’s gonna be really good for your resume”: $677M MCU Movie VFX Artist Who Didn’t Even Hit Minimum Wage Saw Benedict Cumberbatch Draw $5.5M Salary

"That's gonna be really good for your resume": $677M MCU Movie VFX Artist Who Didn't Even Hit Minimum Wage Saw Benedict Cumberbatch Draw $5.5M Salary
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Even though the world is captivated by the captivating stories and dynamic characters of the movies, some unsung heroes make it all possible: the VFX artists. These skilled artists work behind the scenes to create the magic we see on the big screen.


However, while the MCU continues to amaze us with its splendor, the reality for VFX artists is far from glamorous. They work long hours, earn modest wages, and make sacrifices that often go unnoticed.

James Dornoff Reveals The Harsh Truth

MCU's Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame

The story starts with James Dornoff, a skilled VFX artist who has brought famous MCU scenes to life. He has worked on major productions such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, and Eternals, and his work is a crucial part of Marvel’s impressive cinematic universe.


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Yet, in a twist, Dornoff’s story takes an unforeseen detour. Presented with an opportunity to work on the monumental Avengers: Endgame as a data wrangler – a role pivotal to capturing on-set images for VFX – his excitement was met with an offer that echoed like a dissonant note in the orchestra: a paltry weekly wage of $850.

A recent 2022 IATSE working conditions survey paints a contrasting picture: the average data wrangler working for VFX companies commands a weekly sum nearing $2,850. This disparity is painted more vividly when one accounts for Dornoff’s grueling work hours, stretching from 12 to 18 hours daily.

James Dornoff
James Dornoff

When accounting for taxes and the relentless hours he invests, the cruel truth reveals itself – he would scarcely even breach the minimum wage threshold.

“The comeback is, ‘Well, you’re going to be on a Marvel project and that’s gonna be really good for your resume.'”

In the entertainment industry, payment negotiations for big projects like the MCU can often be unfair. The disparity reflects the industry’s economy, where immediate financial gain is prioritized over the promise of future opportunities.

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MCU’s VFX Artists Experience Anxiety and Severe Burnout

SAG-AFTRA members
SAG-AFTRA members

It’s only just that their recompense mirrors the dedication and finesse they contribute to the canvas of imagination. Marvel frequently outsources visual effects studios to produce their stunning visual effects.

Unfortunately, bidding wars often occur between the studios, resulting in understaffed projects and overworked employees. One visual effects artist shared that they had to work 64-hour weeks, causing some workers to suffer from mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks.

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Dornoff further shares how this issue leads to severe burnout. Phase Five of the MCU, spanning the years 2023 to 2025, promises a captivating line-up of seven feature films and an equal number of TV shows. As Marvel’s universe expands with renewed vigor, the studio could benefit greatly by heeding the plight of those laboring behind the enchanted façade.

Source: Rolling Stone

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Mabel Andrady

Written by Mabel Andrady

Articles Published: 694

Mabel, aka MJ, is a FandomWire Sr. Writer, pop-culture fanatic, and an MA in Health Demography holder. When she's not indulging in her guilty pleasure of penning everything Hollywood, Marvel & DC, she writes academic essays on COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. With 2500+ articles published online, she brings a unique twist to entertainment writing. A jack-of-all-trades, MJ enjoys movies, writes/acts in plays, writes music, and dreams of being a successful actress. She offers a fresh perspective, making her writing a must-read for those seeking knowledge and entertainment.