Yelena Belova Creators Accuse Marvel of Shortchanging Them
In 1999, Devin Grayson and artist J.G. Jones’ Marvel Knights: Black Widow miniseries revitalized Natasha Romanoff as a leading character. A few elements from that story found their way into the Black Widow movie, most notably, the introduction of Yelena Belova as a new Black Widow. Via The Hollywood Reporter, Grayson and Jones signed a special character agreement with Marvel that reportedly promised them $25,000 for Yelena’s inclusion. However, they were ultimately paid $5,000 each.
Grayson shared some specific details with THR about the contract she signed in 2007. It called for her to receive a $25,000 payment if Yelena appeared in a movie. Additionally, she would receive $2,000 if Yelena appeared in an hour-long TV series, or $1,000 if she appeared in a half-hour series. But instead of getting $1,000 or $2,000 for Yelena’s appearance in Hawkeye, Grayson was only offered $300.
“It’s like the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes,” said Grayson. “You could win $1 million, but you won’t.”
Through her attorneys, Grayson discovered how her payment for the film had been so dramatically decreased. Buried in the contract was a provision that the $25,000 would be split between her and Jones.
Additionally, their shared $12,500 was whittled down even further because Marvel shares the same sum with other special character agreement holders whose creations appeared in the film. THR theorizes that the rest went to the creators of Red Guardian and Melina Vostokoff.
Because the $25,000 figure was so prominently featured in their contracts, both Grayson and Jones feel they were misled.
“Having spoken to a number of creators, Marvel’s financial offerings seem a bit of a bait and switch,” said Jones. “They throw out a large number, then little by little they whittle down the actual payout.”
America Chavez co-creator Joe Casey and Winter Soldier co-creator Ed Brubaker have previously spoken out about Marvel’s lackluster payouts to creators. THR’s report also notes that because Winter Soldier was only on screen for 22 minutes in Captain America: Civil War, his appearance was deemed a “cameo” by Marvel even though he is one of the leading characters in the film. And because of that classification, the appearance fee for Winter Soldier was significantly reduced.
What do you think about Grayson and Jones’ conflict with Marvel? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: Marvel Knights Black Widow by Grayson & Rucka: The Complete Collection
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