Within about 10 minutes of the trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder dropping online, comics fans noted how one shot was identical in composition to a panel that artist Esad Ribić drew for his run on the series Thor: God of Thunder with writer Jason Aaron. Some sites have already lauded this for the “comic book accuracy.” To others, this feels more transparently like an artist being taken advantage of, with Ribić serving as “the cheapest possible designer” for one of Hollywood’s most expensive ongoing projects. Too often, the creators who forged the foundations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are given a “special thanks” credit and little else, and that’s being thrown into sharper relief as these films double down on lifting imagery from page to screen.
It’s even part of the press cycle for these films at this point — Marvel Studios will prove their “loyalty” to the source material by perfectly replicating something from it. The increasing pride with which the studio uses exact replicas of artists’ work leads one to wonder whether those artists are being fairly compensated for that usage, if at all. While it’s not easy to find concrete numbers, the first answer that comes up is often a resounding “No.” The Guardian reported that artists have been receiving “thank you payments” in the range of $5,000, along with invites to the premieres of the movies based on their respective works. Measure that against the billions that Marvel/Disney makes off these films each year.