“I think I might be the only person in America not excited about this show. When I see the ads for the show, it actually kind of makes me feel sick to my stomach,” Brubaker says. “As a company, why would you want that to be the way the creators feel?”
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Cast and Characters
While Brubaker may not have created the character of Bucky Barnes (who’s been around since 1941’s Captain America Comics #1), he and artist Steve Epting did create the concept of the Winter Soldier and the back-story that explains how Bucky survived his apparent death in WWII and became a brainwashed Soviet assassin. Brubaker’s long, influential run on Captain America has greatly influenced the direction of the MCU (particularly 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and 2016’s Captain America: Civil War), but that hasn’t yielded Brubaker much in the way of royalties from Marvel. In fact, he reveals he’s earned more money from SAG residuals for his brief cameo role in The Winter Soldier than he has from Marvel Studios.
Brubaker adds, “I probably will watch it at some point. I’m conflicted about it, because, like, I knew going in it was work-for-hire, but also when I was writing it, they didn’t have their own movie studio and weren’t owned by Disney. So the idea that this character would go on to be a huge franchise where kids would come trick-or-treating at my house dressed as him.”
Brubaker’s complaints are unfortunately common among comic creators. Because most Marvel and DC creators operate under a work-for-hire agreement, they’re generally legally entitled to very little when their work is adapted for other media (though the specific terms of each creator’s contract may vary). As IGN has explored in the past, this has led many former Marvel creators to depart the company and pursue creator-owned projects that offer greater financial rewards if those stories are adapted for film and TV. Brubaker himself has pivoted to creator-owned books like Fatale and The Fade Out, and also co-wrote Amazon’s Too Old to Die Young with Nicolas Winding Refn.Marvel has previously faced legal battles from the estate of Jack Kirby, which sought to reclaim the copyright for Kirby’s numerous Marvel creations. While the SDNY ruled in Marvel’s favor in 2011, the Supreme Court nearly took up a review of the case before Marvel quietly settled with the Kirby estate in 2014.
“Everybody kept coming over to me after the movie and going, ‘How much did they give you for this?’ When you have a hundred people asking how much they gave you for this, it starts to eat away at you a little bit,” Brubaker says. “Look, I knew what I was getting into, and I’m not unhappy with my life, or that I wrote this thing. I am super-proud of all the work I did on Daredevil, and Cap, and I don’t love my X-Men run but there are people who like it. I loved working at Marvel, I had a great time there – but at the same time I also feel like, you know, be a little more generous.”
Do you think Marvel should be compensating creators like Brubaker more for their contributions to the MCU? Let us know in the comments below.
For more on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, check out IGN’s review for Episode 5 and learn why this episode’s big cameo almost happened in a different MCU project.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.