Winter Soldier co-creator Ed Brubaker is conflicted about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, raising questions about compensation and ownership.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is officially out on Disney+ and Winter Soldier co-creator Ed Brubaker has mixed feelings about the series. The Marvel limited series follows the eponymous heroes played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan and has already received much praise. The duo travels around the world fighting the anarchist Flag-Smashers and works together to fill the shoes of a retired Captain America.
The series is just one of a number of Marvel shows bringing the MCU to the realm of television. At many billions of dollars in revenue, the MCU is one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time. Marvel comics characters sit at the pinnacle of pop culture and appear in films, TV series, video games, and collectibles of every shape and size. Indeed, the characters created by artists and writers have extended far beyond the panels; they have ushered in a superhero mania across pop culture.
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With the Winter Soldier getting much more screen presence in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Brubaker is asking why he and Steve Epting are not being compensated for their work on the character. In his blog/newsletter, the seven-time Eisner Award-winning comics writer revealed that he won’t be watching the series anytime soon. Though he is overjoyed at the popularity of the character, has only good things to say about the people behind the camera, and wishes all the best for Stan, Brubaker opened up about the sickening feeling of watching his creation rake in millions from a distance. Read his quote in full below:
And of course, today the FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIER show debuts on Disney+, which I sadly have very mixed feelings about. I’m really happy for Sebastian Stan, who I think is both a great guy and the perfect Bucky/Winter Soldier, and I’m glad to see him getting more screen time finally. Also, Anthony Mackie is amazing as the Falcon, and everyone at Marvel Studios that I’ve ever met (all the way up to Kevin Feige) have been nothing but kind to me… but at the same time, for the most part all Steve Epting and I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a “thanks” here or there, and over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with. I’ve even seen higher-ups on the publishing side try to take credit for my work a few times, which was pretty galling (to be clear, I’m NOT talking about Tom Breevort, who was a great editor and really helpful).
So yeah, mixed feeling, and maybe it’ll always be like that (but I sure hope not). Work-for-hire work is what it is, and I’m honestly thrilled to have co-created something that’s become such a big part of pop culture – or even pop subculture with all the Bucky-Steve slash fiction – and that run on Cap was one of the happiest times of my career, certainly while doing superhero comics. Also, I have a great life as a writer and much of it is because of Cap and the Winter Soldier bringing so many readers to my other work. But I also can’t deny feeling a bit sick to my stomach sometimes when my inbox fills up with people wanting comments on the show.
So… I’m sure I’ll watch it, and you should too if you’re a Marvel movie universe fan, but I’ll probably be waiting a while to check it out myself. So please don’t email me any spoilers, I guess, but go give Sebastian Stan lots of love wherever he is online.
Brubaker and Epting debuted the current Bucky Barnes incarnation back in 2005 – Brubaker actually had a famous Marvel cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a nod to his involvement in the character’s creation. There have been many thanks and nods to the creators of iconic Marvel characters, but that can never equate to monetary compensation. Marvel and DC have famously (or infamously) addressed the complicated nature of comics ownership before. Many artists and writers work on ongoing series over the years and some are handsomely compensated for their integral contribution. Others speak out. Marvel famously had a protracted legal battle with the family of longtime Stan Lee collaborator, Jack Kirby.
As Brubaker himself acknowledged, work for hire is what it is. Marvel is now owned by Disney, and those familiar with the Mouse House’s long history of shaping and wrestling with copyright law will know that the issue is far larger than Brubaker’s individual claim. There’s something objectively unjust about the originators of these characters going uncompensated while their characters generate a dragon’s trove of wealth, but the system is such that each instance is decided case by case. Thus far, Brubaker has indicated no intention of suing. Enjoy The Falcon and The Winter Soldier for all the work that countless men and women have put into it, but leave Brubaker’s inbox alone for now.
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: Ed Brubaker
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