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Monday, August 05, 2013 

Len Wein and Chris Claremont got no credit for the Wolverine films

The LA Times interviewed Len Wein, who said he's never been given credit for the Wolverine movies as the character's creator:
HC: When these films come out, is it fair to say that it’s something of a bittersweet experience? Characters you’ve created continue to have these long screen lives, but you don’t have credit on the movies.

LW: I still haven’t had credit on one of these movies.

HC: Is that frustrating?

LW: Yes, of course it is. It’s less frustrating for the characters I created at DC. Money comes with the anonymity, at least. I have contracts that guarantee me some small piece of the action. Lucius Fox has earned me a great deal more money than Wolverine ever has, although I will say that for the latest film Marvel did send me a nice check.
Granted, they did do the right thing by paying him. All the same, denying him on-screen credit for creating Logan alongside Dave Cockrum is kind of unfair, no matter how corporately owned the X-Men are. Why don't moviegoers have the right to know who the guys are who thought up all these heroes and heroines years before?

And New York Magazine's Vulture site interviewed Chris Claremont, and note that he didn't get any credit either as the guy who improved upon any shortcomings in Wein's initial rendition and made Wolverine even more popular:
As it turned out, you didn’t get a credit in the film — not even a “special thanks” at the end. With no credit, and not seeing any money from the adaptation of your work, is it still an overall positive feeling to watch these movies?
The thing about the credit … We did this mostly for fun. It was earning a living, but we did it for fun. There are still grace notes that make you grin.
And he can be credited for keeping a thick skin about being left out of the movie staff credits and not getting any money in contrast to Wein, but still, this highlights the problems that come with a franchise being owned by conglomerates: they're just so stingy, and even if they do pay you well behind the scenes, they're not willing to give any credit to the people who made all this happen in the beginning, unless, as in Siegel and Shuster's case, you're able to sue for what you're owed. But when they sued for their credits on Superman in 1975, the difference was that moviemaking with comics wasn't a big business as it is today (and Warner Brothers not as big a conglomerate), and if they were around today and tried, there's a very probably chance they'd have a much harder - if not impossible - time receiving credit. Some creators might not even bother at all if they're still in the business and want to keep on good terms with the publishers. Worse, some news companies might not even come to their aid.

Personally, I think if Claremont didn't get paid for having his work adapted, he should sue if he has to to get that paycheck. Getting royalties/bonuses for writing a specific book is something the medium should be giving, far more so than for creating individual characters in a franchise.

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I don't see how it would hurt Marvel or Disney to include a brief line in the credits, e.g., "based on characters created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum." It didn't take a lawsuit for Tarzan movies to have credits saying, "based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs," or for James Bond movies to have credits saying, "screenplay by Richard Maibaum, based on a novel by Ian Fleming."

To quote Bob Layton when asked about lack of credit for various Iron Man projects, "We knew what we were doing (signing contracts for "work for hire") back in the day ... it just sucks."

Not surprising. I think it's stuff like this that leads some to pursue creator-owned projects instead, so that they actually will have ownership over the characters.

But then again, that (creator ownership) doesn't always work out, either. Just look at the overhyped entity that is Image Comics, just to name one example. Titles like Spawn, Savage Dragon and Youngblood are all junk.

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