Marvel Smashes Box Office Record, Still Shortchanges Creator
You may have heard about the release of this little comic book film called Avengers: Endgame. That's because, statistically, you have already seen it more often than you have your grandparents in your entire lifetime. The climax of the Marvel Cinematic Universe of over 40,000 hours (and not a single bathroom break) is smashing the box office harder than our Hulk / Thicc Thanos slash fic. And with everyone celebrating the film's enormous success, it might be a good time for a reminder of how much Marvel screws over the people without whom you'd be stuck watching NCIS with your meemaw.
Now that the finger-snapping dust has settled, it has been reported that Avengers: Endgame opened worldwide to a staggering $1.2 billion -- almost double the total of the previous opening weekend record holder, making it the first movie in history to earn over a billion dollars in the time it takes most people to finish a 400-piece puzzle. But rather than guaranteeing that everyone involved is now so rich they're living in mansions made out of actual vibranium, more of that money was likely dropped on the executive producers' after party than as compensation to the original comic book artists.
But don't take our word for it. Just listen to Jim Starlin, celebrated comics genius and the man responsible for the Infinity Gauntlet, half of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and everyone's least-favorite beat poetry audience member, Thanos himself. In a 2017 post, he rightfully complained that when one of his minor villains popped up in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the paycheck he got from DC was bigger than his earnings from all of his creations in all of the MCU movies combined. Which is really sad once you realize what kind of lemonade stand money DC movies make in comparison to Marvel.
To be fair, this very much a comic book industry problem bleeding over into the movies. In general, creators who have worked for Marvel have had to sign away any and all intellectual property to the company, meaning they're not considered to have anything to do with the movies -- to the point where they even have to pay for their own tickets if they want to see their genius on the big screen.
Recently (especially in the Russo Brothers era), Marvel Studios has been a lot more generous to the original creators, giving them the kind of lucrative deals that allowed the creator of Rocket Raccoon to finally move out of a nursing home. Even Starlin, after his very public complaint, was offered a revised compensation package that he called "a fairly fair deal." But it's still just generosity, and not any actual obligation, motivating them to give creators little crumbs from their billion-dollar pie. And since megacorporations aren't really known for their excessive generosity, maybe we shouldn't celebrate their box office records until we like what that money is spent on.
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