Graphic artist Midiankai is accusing Marvel Studios of stealing artwork he created in 2016 for their 'Werewolf by Night' poster.
Marvel’s Werewolf by Night has earned wide acclaim from fans, calling it one of the best MCU projects to premiere on Disney+, but there is controversy brewing. According to a story in The Direct, a graphic artist named Midiankai is claiming that Disney and Marvel Studios stole his artwork and used it in the official Werewolf by Night poster, which was released in September, ahead of the show’s October 7 premiere. His evidence, posted to social media, is pretty convincing, and will likely remind fans of previous situations in which Disney was accused of plagiarism after allegedly stealing the work of independent artists.
This weekend, Midiankai posted artwork on Twitter that he created in 2016 for a Dutch hardcore band named Born From Pain, which featured a wolf’s head with a rose and knife. The band used it for a t-shirt they sold based on their song “Lonewolf,” but after the artist’s wife saw Marvel’s Werewolf By Night poster featured in a YouTube video, she recognized her husband’s work immediately, and brought it to his attention. In a detailed explanation of his process working in vector art, Midiankai pointed out a number of clues that a Disney artist likely committed an intentional act of plagiarism by “tracing” his art digitally and making additional edits to cover their tracks.
Midiankai, who is based in Estonia and has been a graphics designer for over nine years, gave an interview to The Direct to outline the evidence to his plagiarism claims. He points out that the wolf’s nose and snout are nearly identical to his, only widened and and softened to take out hard edges, and other elements were added. The jaw was opened up on the Disney poster, but an eagle-eyed Twitter user pointed out that indentions in the wolf’s fangs, present in the original artwork where the teeth overlap, are still present in the Marvel poster, even though the jaw has been opened.
The artist pointed out that common image-editing tools, like those found in Adobe Illustrator, can easily make these changes. He thinks someone at Marvel saw the design on his Twitter or Instagram feed – where he interacts with many comic book artists – and decided to use it.
A company the size of Disney/Marvel, which releases lots of creative content, will always be a lightning rod for accusations of theft from other artists. However, it is hard to deny the evidence here, and it would hardly be the first credible case of Marvel plagiarism in recent years.
Marvel Studios has been accused of stealing the designs for the new Iron Man armor and Ant-Man suit from an independently-published comic book. Disney itself faced a major plagiarism charge in 2018 when it seemingly lifted the designs for its Solo: A Star Wars Story movie posters. At the time, Disney blamed an independent design firm for the controversy.
In a follow up tweet, Midiankai posted that he has already taken “legal steps” with Marvel to address the situation, but did not elaborate. Neither Marvel not Disney have publicly commented on the plagiarism controversy. The poster is not available on any social media accounts for Disney+, but it is not clear if it had been featured and deleted.
Werewolf by Night is streaming on Disney+.