Chuck Dixon criticizes Marvel for not giving Jim Starlin credit for Thanos' movie appearance
The Batman writer slammed the studios for using Jim Starlin's created villain without contacting or paying him in advance.They aren't the first ones who haven't been given their fair share: back in 2002 when the first Spider-Man movie was produced, Stan Lee almost got left out, and he told CBS* at the time that he hadn't gotten any money from it. He took them to court and they eventually settled. But for him it was easy enough because he'd become very wealthy over all the famous writings and characters he'd created years ago. For Dixon and Starlin, to name but some, it's not, because while they have made good earnings over the years, they're still nowhere near as wealthy as Lee's become.
Thanos appears briefly in a post-credits sequence in The Avengers, hinting that the character may become a leading villain in future Marvel projects.
"For Jim to get passed over on both the Infinity Gaunlet AND Thanos is just plain bad form," Dixon wrote on his Facebook page.
"He provided them with the Big Name cosmic baddie they'll need going forward with what is now their biggest moneymaking franchise. We're talking TEN FIGURES here, for God's sake! They can't cut Jim a check from some of that pile?
"Hell, 1% of 1% would be a lifechanger. Bastards. Disney plus Marvel is the real Super Villain Team-up."
Starlin himself has stated that he had "mixed feelings" about the use of Thanos in The Avengers.
Dixon also spoke of his annoyance upon learning a scene of his was used without his knowledge for 2004's The Punisher.
He wrote: "This is an outrage. I got boned on the Thomas Jane Punisher flick when they used a whole scene of mine (shot for shot and word for word) from Punisher War Zone.
This practice of obscuring the names of past contributors may have gone on for a long time, with Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich the most recent victim, and it's very unfair. Even if it was all part of work-for-hire, that doesn't mean the people involved don't deserve credit. Why, if it hadn't been for Starlin, who knows if there would have been a Thanos to serve as an intergalactic antagonist for the MCU? And the Avengers movie has made such a huge fortune that Dixon is correct; they could spare a decent amount for Starlin and still have LOADS of dough left over.
There is a case to be made here that even work-for-hire writers cannot be obscured and ignored as though their efforts don't mean anything; they most definitely do, just as much as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's creation of Superman, and they were lucky to influence DC and Warner Bros. to grant them the credit they deserved in the mid-1970s. The companies are also going to have to start mending fences with writers they've been shunning, including Dixon, whom Quesada may have blacklisted over his political standings, followed later on by Dan DiDio for possibly similar reasons. All this abuse of hired hands who contributed high points to their archives in past decades deserve much better than they're receiving now.
If Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet do appear in a sequel to the Avengers movie, Starlin must definitely receive credit then for creation of the supervillain and the special weapon.
* although the article is oddly dated to 2009, I do remember seeing it as early as 2003, and the way it mentions the first Hulk movie shows it was published around that time.