For many MCU fans, the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t just a wider look at Marvel’s expansive multiverse, it’s possibly their first glimpse at America Chavez. Played by Xochitl Gomez, the gay teen is incredibly strong and has the power to hop between universes via star-shaped portals. Following her first appearance in 2011’s Vengeance #1 by writer Joe Casey and artist Nick Dragotta, the character has become a fan-favourite over the past decade, appearing in her own short solo comics and team books like The Ultimates 2 and Young Avengers.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Casey talked about the feeling of watching his creation now get catapulted to blockbuster status. Like several other comics creators, he hasn’t really been properly compensated financially, outside of his pay rates when he first made the character with Dragotta. “Marvel has paid me nothing for America Chavez,” said Casey, “not only for appearing in the Doctor Strange sequel, but in numerous animated TV episodes, for the numerous action figures they’ve made of her, for video games she’s appeared in.” Outside of Multiverse, the character appeared in the Marvel Rising cartoon series, and has shown up in recent Marvel video games including Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, Contest of Champions, and Lego Marvel Avengers.
Once he learned of Chavez’s big screen future, Casey contacted Marvel to get paperwork for that compensation but said it was a “pittance” of an offer. A specific number wasn’t given, but previously, it’s been reported that Marvel would only pay comics creators $US5000 ($6,941) for adapting their work into blockbuster films and big budget TV series, and offer the creators an invitation to the premiere. At time of writing, Casey hasn’t gotten a counter offer, and though the conversations are still in progress, he feels very much like Marvel’s stonewalling him.
For Casey, the issue with Marvel is less about him specifically, and more about the principle of the matter, so the publisher can’t do this to other creators. “If I’m in a position where I can afford not to take their insult of an offer, and be able to talk about it, maybe the next guy — where that kind of money could change their life — would get a fair shot of receiving that money.” He’s not bitter, and he knows how this has been an issue in the comics industry for decades. (Prior to 2011, he knew about Marvel’s issues and told himself he wouldn’t create a character for the company, but ultimately “couldn’t resist.”) “It’s not about money, it’s not even about respect. I would never expect to be respected by a corporation.”
But he hopes that by bringing more light to the issue, like other comics creators before him, the comics publisher will offer a better deal for its creators they keep mining content from. “Marvel owns America Chavez, , and that’s not in dispute on any level. But there are still systemic flaws in the way that creators are neither respected nor rewarded.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness arrives in theatres on May 6.
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