When the members of the Writers’ Guild of America under the Minimum Basic Agreement voted to strike, the general consensus was one of support for writers demanding a fair contract… and dread over how one corner of the internet would react when denied a firm release date for their highly anticipated superhero movies.
That seemed to be confirmed when an AI-generated image of Spider-Man in chains went viral on Twitter, paired with a message of “greedy writers' profits aren't worth as much as the joy superheroes bring to people all over the world.” A quick look at the account’s history and linked website proves this was actually a comedic troll post done to stoke fury, but by the time it went viral, the damage was done. To the public, the biggest enemy of the writers strike was fans, especially Marvel fans.
“I'm upset that my favorite shows will be delayed, but the blame should fall on companies for forcing this strike.”
But when you look for real examples of this backlash, there simply aren’t any. Marvel fans may be frustrated by delays, but it’s clear they know who’s really responsible: the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (the bargaining group who forced the Writers’ Guild into action).
“I honestly think that this is great for the writers and everyone who enjoys MCU content in general,” Marvel fan Sara Khan tells Inverse. “If the people who create and perfect the stories that we love aren't getting treated fairly or compensated as they deserve, why should we be able to enjoy their hard work and effort?”
Marvel delays are nothing new to fans
Marvel Studios has been directly affected by the strike. Upcoming MCU movie Blade, which had just gained a new writer after a long-beleaguered development, was postponed indefinitely because of the strike. Marvel’s parent company Disney has caused strife by instructing showrunners to participate in writing instead of WGA guild members, which may be interpreted as crossing the picket line and scabbing. And the union has successfully shut down several in-production Marvel projects, including Wonder Man and Daredevil: Born Again.
These delays are definitely disappointing, but it’s nothing Marvel fans aren’t used to. At least this time, the delay is for a fight for fair wages, not box office strategy or a worldwide pandemic.
“With these past few years, a delay is nothing new in the MCU so I can live with a delay if it means the people who make the show can actually afford to do so,” Marvel fan Jack Deegan tells Inverse.
Another fan, Valox Keltner, had a similar reaction: “Writers are quite literally fighting to keep their careers and houses. I'm upset that my favorite shows will be delayed, but the blame should fall on companies for forcing this strike.”
Marvel fans are aware of their reputation
Nobody Inverse spoke to expressed seeing any backlash against the writers from any other fans. Writers are the people who craft the stories Marvel fans love so much, and their audience hasn’t forgotten that fact.
“As much as I’m excited for the future of the MCU, the people doing the hard work writing these projects need to be making a livable wage and that is always gonna be the priority,” Deegan says.
“I'm hopeful for change and look forward to writers and everyone in creative/artistic fields to be treated how they deserve and compensated well,” adds Sara Khan. “I wouldn't have so much of what I love and care about without them, and I know that's the case for many other people.”
“I have personal beef with them. But I also think they deserve higher pay.”
That said, some fans are hoping the strike will allow Marvel to reflect on the quality of the writing recently.
”I’m on the fence [about supporting the strike.] Phase 4 was really hit or miss, and Marvel had even admitted to that,” Anna Shelly Fay tells Inverse. She describes her dislike for the character of Sylvie in Loki, and Loki showrunner Michael Waldron’s recycling of material from a previous failed screenplay. “I have personal beef with them,” Fay admits. “But I also think they deserve higher pay.”
Solidarity with writers
But Marvel fans can do more for the strike than just being patient. There are rumblings among fans that they could join together in solidarity, get Marvel to listen, and possibly push the studios to come to the table.
“I don’t think fans understand how much power they have,” Hackett says. “Get mad at the studios, the people in charge, the ones who refused to meet the writers' reasonable demands. The writers didn't go right into strike — they tried to make a deal first — and the studios said no.”
The fan experience is something the Marvel Cinematic Universe has cultivated from the start: rewarding those who stay past the credits, delivering epic soaring stories, and tying them all together in a universe bigger than anything we’ve seen before. Now, fans have the chance to do their part to improve the MCU. Fans showing solidarity could be enough to tip the balance.
“This isn’t the fault of the writers. This is the fault of the studios.”
“Big studios feel like writers and anyone showing solidarity with them is somewhat bluffing,” Sara Khan says. “We need to get past the bluff and let the strike really affect them.”
“It's okay to be upset if your favorite show gets canceled or that movie of yours is stuck in production because of the strike. It's okay to feel frustrated, sad, or outright angry, to have something you love get unfairly taken away from you,” Hackett adds.
“Just don't blame the writers. This isn’t the fault of the writers. This is the fault of the studios.”