Marvel Studios Called Bullies By VFX Worker, Alleges Awful Working Conditions

According to a new report, Marvel Studios allegedly puts VFX workers through terrible hours and working conditions.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

marvel vfx

Marvel Studios is one of the biggest filmmaking companies in the world, but they do not necessarily do their own visual effects (also known as VFX) in-house. Most of the time, the real heavy lifting of all that CGI and movie magic that turns Mark Ruffalo into the Hulk, for example, is done by a roster of much smaller companies. According to an anonymous report in Vulture, Marvel treats VFX workers pretty terribly and uses its vast sway over the film industry to get whatever they want. While the whistleblower in the Vulture Marvel piece does not identify exactly what VFX house they work for, they do have enough concrete details that it sounds pretty plausible. 

According to the unnamed whistleblower, Marvel is currently one of the biggest sources of employment for the VFX industry. There are a few reasons for that, one being that it simply makes the highest-grossing movies in the world right now and another being it makes so many movies that are highly CGI-involved. By the very simple rules of supply and demand, that means Marvel is the biggest fish for a VFX house to try to catch to get work (and presumably built a reputation for excellence). However, according to this source, Marvel takes advantage of this by requiring extremely long hours of the VFX workers (upward of 60 hours a week, seven days a week) and demanding constant changes to the work. 

Obviously, this would be frustrating for any worker being contracted by a larger, more powerful company. What makes Marvel’s alleged practices especially egregious is that apparently any VFX house that does not push their workers into constant overtime, anxiety-attack levels of pressure, and a blank check for constant, unilateral changes is black-listed. That means that any company that (as is used as an example by the source) fails to meet shifting deadlines and unclear instructions, will be taken completely out of the loop and no longer allowed to work with Marvel. The anonymous source is clearly implying that the failure of the VFX workers is due to Marvel having unreasonable expectations as well as creating an atmosphere in which all VFX companies are underbidding each other for contracts and attempting to do their work with understaffed teams. They also claim that much of the work is made more difficult by Marvel hiring directors who may not be experienced in working with VFX houses in the first place.

In many ways, the complaints about Marvel by the VFX worker (and presumably shared by others in the field) are less of a result of the Disney sub-company being ruthless than the nature of profit-driven capitalism. Hollywood has been a notoriously harsh place for workers on every level of the industry for essentially its entire existence, and a single studio gaining the power that Marvel has can only exacerbate that. However, the source is quite clear in alleging that Marvel has become used to using its disproportionate power as a cudgel to bully VFX houses into following its own expectations, regardless of how impossible they might be to meet or sustain.