If you’ve seen any Marvel film or television product lately, then you’ve likely had a complaint about the visual effects of the films. Marvel products started out among the finest films to ever be made using CGI. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame truly tHd an incredible story over six hours that was largely based on CGI with over 2,500 shots using computer-generated imagery. Avengers: Infinity War had over 2,700 CGI shots. Only 80 of the film’s entire shots had zero CGI. That’s 3% of the total film being made without using CGI. That means humans had to work for hours creating these masterpieces and in Marvel’s case, they were being paid 20% less for that work than their industry counterparts.
Imagine making an entire saga of films, nearly 25 in total, and you’re being paid 20% less than everyone else in the industry while your films made $2,048,359,754 dollars for the parent company. That is an absolutely mind-boggling sum of money to be made off the backs of people who are being valued less than everyone else in their industry. Meanwhile, Marvel is churning out films littered with messages of fairness and equality while they’re overworking and underpaying their own employees. None of this even mentions how they treat their actual comic creators.
We live in a very employee-centric era right now. There are strikes in Hollywood and against the three major automotive manufacturers and there have been strikes against Starbucks, factory workers have gone on strikes, and even nurses have decided enough is enough. UPS workers nearly went on strike until the company agreed to avoid one by installing air conditioning units in the vehicles and raising the workers’ pay. More and more people have realized that profits are soaring and they’re still struggling. Companies continue to gaslight people saying they would be forced to go out of business if they paid their workers more, meanwhile their profits soar by over 40% in some cases like the automotive industry.
After Victoria Alonso was ousted from Marvel for her disgusting attitude towards workers, Marvel likely thought that would be enough to keep people happy and get the normal flow of work returning. It was not. Not in the slightest. Marvel Studios VFX workers voted unanimously to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). It marked the first time ever that VFX artists joined with the IATSE. The vote was so overwhelming that literally zero people were against it. That should tell you something about how badly they’d been overworked when literally everyone says yes to better conditions. Mark Patch, VFX organizer for IATSE, gave a quote following the vote.
“Today, VFX workers at Marvel Studios spoke with a unanimous, collective voice, demanding fair pay for the hours they work, healthcare, a safe and sustainable working environment, and respect for the work they do. There could be no stronger statement highlighting the overwhelming need for us to continue our work and bring union protections and standards to all VFX workers across the industry. And there could be no stronger example of the courage and solidarity of these workers than each and every one of them declaring ‘union YES!’”
Thomas Barnard, VFX coordinator at Marvel, also gave a statement on the vote.
“This is historic and I’m glad to be part of it. Not only will this radically change the game by increasing the quality of storytelling through our work, it’s also a huge step forward for taking care of the unsung individuals who helped to build the industry.”
I’m a huge fan of this unionization. Marvel movies and TV shows have been suffering lately and even I have been less than excited for their new shows. Secret Invasion should have been amazing, but instead, it was a completely jumbled mess that barely resembled anything regarded the original source material. The effects were awful as well, but not nearly as bad as some of their other shows. Hopefully the protections of a union provide them with enough security to do their job and do it well.