Yelena Belova co-creator Devin Grayson received just $5,000 for the character’s appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow movie.
Yelena Belova co-creator Devin Grayson received just $5,000 for the character’s appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow movie. Created by comic book writer Grayson and illustrator J.G. Jones in 1999, Yelena Belova made her MCU debut in 2021’s Black Widow. Portrayed by Academy Award-nominated actress Florence Pugh, Yelena is Natasha Romanoff’s adoptive sister who was also trained in the Red Room as a Black Widow. During the movie’s end-credits scene, Yelena is sent by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine to kill Hawkeye under the notion he was responsible for Natasha’s death.
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Pugh’s Yelena returned in episode 4 of the Disney+ series Hawkeye, engaging in a rooftop fight with Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton and Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop. Later, though, after getting to know Clint and Kate a bit better, Yelena realizes he wasn’t responsible for her sister’s death, and the Hawkeye series finale provides emotional closure for Natasha’s demise in Avengers: Endgame. At the moment, Yelena’s MCU future is very much up the air, though she is a prime candidate for the eventual Young Avengers or Thunderbolts teams.
Related: Why Yelena Will Join Thunderbolts, Not Young Avengers
Despite Yelena’s prominent place in the MCU, a new report from THR reveals that Grayson was paid just $5,000 for her appearance in Black Widow. Though Grayson and Jones believed they would receive $25,000 each according to the agreement they had signed, that payment eventually decreased to $5,000 without any explanation from Marvel.
The answer as to why Grayson only received $5,000 for Yelena’s usage in Black Widow lies within a labyrinthine system of contracts and agreements that only a lawyer could make head or tails of. Part of it comes from Marvel splitting the $25,000 figure with other comics creators. However, the takeaway from this story is clear: Marvel Studios continues to shortchange the comic book writers and artists behind the characters that fuel the most lucrative film franchise of all time. Black Widow grossed $379 million at the box office, which is below average for the MCU, but certainly enough to properly compensate the creator behind the film’s deuteragonist. This is especially true considering how pivotal Yelena will be in the MCU going forward; Marvel is clearly positioning her to take Natasha’s place in the core lineup.
To make matters worse, this isn’t even the only compensation scandal that has plagued Black Widow. Back in July 2021, Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for giving Black Widow a day-and-date release on Disney+, a move which diminished the movie’s box office returns and thus, her backend compensation. That lawsuit was settled a few months later, with Johansson seemingly receiving the compensation she was looking for. However, it remains to be seen if the creators behind the MCU’s characters like Grayson will receive the payment they are rightfully owed. If Yelena is going to continue making onscreen appearances, the creative minds that brought her to life deserve additional benefits.
Next: The MCU’s Black Widow Needs Her Own Movie Before Thunderbolts
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About The Author
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Adam Bentz is a news writer for Screen Rant with an interest in a wide range of movies and television, though it was revered auteurs like Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Aaron Sorkin who ultimately sparked his interest in the craft. Motivated by his love for the screen, Adam studied creative writing with a concentration in screenwriting at Southern New Hampshire University.
After graduating, Adam proudly interned as a writer for The Borgen Project, a nonprofit organization working to end extreme poverty. Other than covering news for Screen Rant, Adam reviews films on his website adambentz.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter @adam__bentz
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