Written By Mikey Sutton • Editor-in-Chief • Owner
Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter felt something was odd when his old company asked him to write a Secret Wars novel.
Secret Wars was among Jim Shooter’s most well-known accomplishments at Marvel Comics.
In 1984, Secret Wars was a groundbreaking achievement in marketing.
It was a 12-issue limited series that crossed over into several other titles.
Moreover, it tied in with a Mattel toy line.
But now, nearly 40 years later, his employer from decades ago knocked on his door.
Specifically, it was an executive from the property management area.
It was no editor.
When former Marvel Editor Jim Shooter saw the contract, he was appalled.
It was a thick collection of legally binding paperwork that had nothing to do with a book.
Watch: Jim Shooter Received Odd New Deal For Secret Wars
No, that agreement was more like a footnote.
In fact, it was only two pages.
Shooter flatly turned him down.
He felt it wasn’t real offer.
They thought he was desperate.
Shortly thereafter, David Bogart, the Senior Vice President of Operations & Procurement of Publishing at Marvel Entertainment, gave him a ring.
He apologized for the anonymous suit with the bait-and-switch.
Not only that, but he cut the nonsense.
According to Jim Shooter, Bogart gave him a retroactive work-for-hire with a $10,000 take it or leave it cash prize.
Jim Shooter had no issue signing a new work-for-hire. He used to regularly sign them in his long comics career. He knew and accepted the process.
However, he felt they didn’t need to pay him. Marvel Comics, or rather their parent Disney, owned those characters.
Secret Wars belonged to them.
You don’t have to pay me anything. I know it was work-for-hire. What do you want me to do, lie about it?
But there were no Marvel movies in 1984.
Streaming television did not exist.
Disney wanted to secure any potential legal issues.
Hollywood is very risk-averse.
Former Marvel Editor Jim Shooter Received Odd New Deal For Secret Wars
Disney is certainly no stranger to lawsuits from creative personnel.
Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for breach of contract over Black Widow‘s lack of theatrical exclusivity.
Broken promises lead to bad PR, wounded relationships, and financial losses.
It became obvious to Shooter than Disney has silver-screen plans for Secret Wars. Billions are on the line.
Contracts need to be bulletproof.
This means you’re making a movie, right?
What? I’m not allowed to tell you that.
I think you just did.
Shooter told this tale over the weekend at Megacon in Florida.
It’s a timely story.
The Hollywood Reporter recently went viral with their examination of low-figure payments to comic-book creators.
The issue just isn’t with Marvel Comics, too. Comic-book writers and artists throw the same complaints to their rival DC Comics.
The Hollywood Reporter noted:
While it’s relatively simple to determine who gets compensation for a character, insiders familiar with Marvel and DC contracts note that it gets murky when it comes to storylines being adapted for film.
Apparently there can be some trickery involved, too, like with Shooter.
Was there ever a plan for a Secret Wars book?
While certain creators such as Jim Starlin – the father of Thanos – are able to renegotiate better contracts, the cycle continues.
In the end, Shooter signed the work-for-hire he believed he didn’t need to.
He took the money he felt didn’t need to get paid to him.
Disney can proceed with their Secret Wars project.
And why not?
Like superheroes, it’s now bulletproof.
With help from Edwin Francisco and Geekosity producer/Editor James Simon.