200903270413Variety reports that Marvel Studios has launched a writers program that will pay several screenwriters to sit around and work on developing Marvel movie ideas.

Marvel will invite up to five writers each year to work on specific projects, said a source familiar with the deal. Those could include staffers behind Marvel’s comicbooks. Tenpercenteries around town are currently pitching potential candidates with writing samples.

The company will provide the specific pitches it wants the scribes to tackle. Those could involve certain plot points for movies already in development or characters it would like to see in its future film slate.

Gathering of scribes will help Marvel come up with creative ways to launch its lesser-known properties, such as Black Panther, Cable, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Nighthawk and Vision.

This sounds all well and good — the writers could make $100k a year– but Nikki Finke says it comes at a price:

One source tells me the terms of the program “are apparently more onerous than the terms of the Disney Writers Program. Before the writers are even allowed to come in and meet, they must sign a non-disclosure agreement and a 70-page, non-negotiable contract. Among other things, the contract gives Marvel ownership over everything the writers create during the one year term of [the] deal, plus a first look and last refusal to any and all projects the writers have previously written or will write for 24 months in the future.” Egads! Unfortunately, with Hollywood feature development at a near standstill, I suspect Marvel could have its pick of film writers in exchange for $5 and a hot lunch.

One of our email pen pals compared this to a Tokyopop type deal, but we suspect Toykopop did not pay its creators $100,000 a year. (Disney has a similar writing program and pays $50,000 a year.) Selling your immediate past and future is indeed a pretty onerous deal, but we hear comics writers are jostling for a place in the program. Go figure.

BONUS: make sure to read the comment section at Finke’s blog for a “spirited debate.”


  1. …plus a first look and last refusal to any and all projects the writers have previously written…

    While I was merely throwing up in my mouth reading that, entire legions of actual creators, including Big Jack Kirby, just started spinning in their graves.

    And before somebody from the current comic book or movie writer’s peanut gallery working for Marvel pipes up, NO, you are NOT creators! Some of you are good craftsmen, but pretty much all of you are writing fan wank with characters that are decades old and were given birth by somebody who actually DID create.

    The same goes for most of Hollywood’s writers and directors these days. Some are decent craftsmen, all of them want to do fan wank.

    If you honestly think that writing the next X-Men movie/comic book or Batman movie/comic book or the next zombiefication of Star Trek in whatever damn medium is “the one thing I always wanted to do, the culmination of all my creative dreams and aspiration”, you, Sir, are a fan wank writer.


    Creation means to build something where nothing was before. Look it up. It’s in Genesis. Writing remakes? Sequels? Remake of sequels? Not creation. That’s merely pimping your car and showing off the fact that you have a very small creative penis.

  2. “Black Panther, Cable, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Nighthawk and Vision.”

    Cable. Nighthawk.


    Honestly, if anyone can make that assignment work, I’d say they’re entitled not only to $100,000, but to ownership of Marvel Enterprises.

  3. Exactly how enforceable are stipulations like “first look and last refusal to any and all projects that the writers have previously written”? I mean, really? Do they get to sniff hard drives and rifle apartments or homes for manuscript boxes?

    Not that I’ve a realistic shot in any of this, just curious really.

    And man, I thought anonymous commenters were a force on comics blogs…

  4. Delicate Young Woman says to her friend at a party: “Who is that older fellow over there?” Her friend tells her that he is is Melvin Moneymuch, the publishing tycoon. DYW then spends the rest of the evening as close as possible to Moneymuch, laughing at all his jokes, agreeing with everything he says, and occasionally resting her hand upon his arm.

    At the end of the evening, Moneymuch says to DYW: “My Dear, would you spend this weekend with me in the Bahamas for $1000?”

    To which the DYW asks: “Why, Mr. Moneymuch, what kind of girl do you think I am?”

    He replies: “Well, I think we already know that. I thought we were just negotiating the price.”

    {{in reponse to “…we hear comics writers are jostling for a place in the program.”}}

  5. “first look and last refusal to any and all projects that the writers have previously written”

    Abe Lincoln outlawed this sort of thing.

  6. The positive of this is that is will be somebody’s big break. Outsiders will probably dwell on the negatives, but writers will get excited because it is an opportunity to create a career. There are probably hundreds of thousands of comic book scripts lying around offices everywhere that wouldn’t get a look except through a program like this. It seems like a pretty beneficial situation, especially considering that they are already established properties.

  7. “NOT. A. CREATOR.”

    Not a creator? Hmmm ….

    Well, they write and illustrate stories … and created them … so I guess that makes them creators.

    After, Jack Kirby wrote/drew Jimmy Olsen … that didn’t make him NOT. A. CREATOR., did it?

  8. @ rich.

    If Jack Kirby had done nothing more than use pre-existing characters and throw up some stories around them, then no, he would not have been a creator. A good CRAFTSMAN, perhaps, but not a creator.

    You are making the stupid strawman’s argument that a lot of the fan wank writers make. You are also apparently not quite able to even read the opening pages of pretty much any comic book ever produced, even under the current system, where it clearly states…


    …to name but one.

    I must have missed the GREEN ARROW, XP POST-CRISIS-HYPERTIME-FINITE-REBOOT EDITION: CREATED BY ANDY DIGGLE (with no personal offense to Mr. Diggle)

  9. People crack me up.

    $100k is good money for the work they’re talking about. Who wouldn’t want to do it? It beats flipping burgers or slinging java while you wait for a break. In this economy you can stick to your fantasy principles or you can cash your paycheck. It’s not like they’re paying you to kill someone or pour toxic waste into the water table.

    And if after a few years of the gig they come back and ask you to create other work your foot’s in the door while the principle people rail about you from the signing line at a con. Where would you rather be?

    “Creating” is over-rated. Ideas are dime a dozen. The money is in execution.

  10. “Creating” is over-rated. Ideas are dime a dozen. The money is in execution.

    And now after we heard this message from the sponsor of the entitlement generation, who come out of colleges with the notion that why the hell should I suffer or do some actual work while keeping my head over water with other thing, give me my damn paycheck, give me my damn LCD Tv and the damn McMansion that is supposed to surround it (how’s that American Dream going, by the way?), why the hell actually create or invent something myself, for fuck’s sake, shit gets produced in China anyway…

    … Stephen King wrote Carrie and Salem’s Lot on a crap teacher’s salary, and he fought his way through an admittedly easier time into the besteller lists…

    … J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter in a cafe in Edinburgh on the dole, and even when she wrote the second one, she was back to teaching classes after finding a job…

    … but please, pass the KY and sign not just away your life for essentially two years (which barely anybody would have a problem with, and the point is not the money), and it shows the typical thinking of the current Entitlement Generation thinking that grew up quietly masturbation over Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good” speech that the big point of contention is THE MONEY.

    Money Good. Greed Good. Thinking Bad.

    It’s the fact that they expect their writers to give them full access to EVERYTHING those writers have written AND perhaps CREATED prior to entering the contract, which they will have to SIGN EVEN BEFORE TAKING A MEETING. And even AFTER you fulfill your contract for two years they can EFFECTIVELY KILL every damn self-created script you will write by the rights of last refusal.

    Be an idiot. That’s fine. But a GOOD writer and NOT the people lining up damn convention tables to tell them that they have, like, the coolest idea for Wolverine ever (this time he burns to a crisp, and only his skeleton remains, oh no, we have already done THAT) must be incredibly desperate to sign away not just his/her craftmanship for a year (and that would be perfectly fine), but essentially everything he/she has ever done prior AND – when there are NO MORE PAYMENTS coming in – the future work.

    So, all over sudden your 100 K for ONE year turns to 33 K for THREE, in case you cannot get another project off the ground, if Marvel spits in your soup!

    Let me repeat that: 33 K per annum over three years!

    And they STILL have access to everything you have created prior to MEETING with them (which beckons the question, since you have to sign that contract prior to taking a meeting, hey, is there a clause in there that they STILL have access to your stuff even AFTER THEY TURN YOU DOWN?)

    Don’t be a moron… moron.

  11. So many questions… What the hell are “tenpercentaries?” What does Variety have against articles and prepositions? Who needs 70 pages to write “your lung and your first born?”

  12. “You are also apparently not quite able to even read the opening pages of pretty much any comic book ever produced, even under the current system, where it clearly states…”

    I can read them. And have. But your initial post is pretty silly.

  13. @Thomas Hart

    I just read your posts … they’re pretty silly, too.

    I’m not certain what reaction your going for. Are we supposed to be ANGRY!!! and argue? Or are we supposed to stand and cheer you on?

Comments are closed.