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Match Your ‘Avengers’ Ticket Price with a Donation to the Hero Initiative [Opinion]

In response to ethical concerns raised about Marvel’s much anticipated The Avengers film, which is based on characters co-created by Jack Kirby and other comic book professionals who (or whose estates) will not benefit financially from the hugely popular motion picture, cartoonist Jon Morris offered a thoughtful proposal for conflicted fans who are mindful of the situation but do not wish to boycott the film: donating the price of a movie ticket to The Hero Initiative, the comics industry not-for-profit corporation dedicated to helping comics creators in need of financial aid.The following was originally published on Jon Morris’ blog last week and is being represented here with his permission.

By Jon Morris

The Avengers opens in theaters in the US on May 4, and it’s going to do blockbuster business. The individual films featuring these characters have already grossed more than $2.2 billion dollars – that’s greater than the Gross National Product of almost half the countries on Earth – and it’s not unlikely that The Avengers will earn a hundred million dollars on its opening day alone.

This represents a pretty big payday to a lot of people – the actors, obviously, will take home pretty big paychecks. The director and the writers are well-compensated, and certainly the executives who greenlighted this project get to sit back and rake in large bonuses and healthy salaries.

Well, you know where this is going; shamefully, the people who aren’t making a big profit from these movies are the people (and the families of the people) who did the essential work of creating them in the first place. It’s not just Jack Kirby, either, or (Black Widow and Hawkeye co-creator) Don Heck, but also Steve Engelhart, Peter David, Herb Trimpe, Jim Steranko, Roy Thomas and dozens more – the artists and writers who refined and defined the characters appearing in this movie, who fleshed out the original creations and molded them into the figures we cheer for when we see them on the screen.

Some very sensible people are calling for a boycott of this film on those grounds, but I think it’s fairly obvious that a boycott of idealistic comic fans isn’t going to accomplish much. It’s not only comic book fans who’ll be dropping a collective billion dollars over the next eight weeks to see this movie, it’s going to be a lot of movie-goers who haven’t read a comic since they were kids, much less know anything of the controversy.

Plus, of course, you — the collective “you,” representing comic book fans all over the world — want to see this movie. And you’re going to, most likely, right? Even though you know of the morally shady practices of Marvel towards its creators, they’ve got you hooked. Don’t be ashamed, they’ve had you hooked for years. It’s what they do.

So how about this: You’re probably going to go see The Avengers and, judging by the early reviews, you’ll probably enjoy it. How about — as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much — you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative?

THI is a charity which provides essential financial assistance to comic book professionals who have fallen on hard times. For decades, the comic industry provided no financial safety net to its employees, most of whom it regarded only as freelancers and journeymen, meaning they were offered no health insurance, no unemployment insurance, no retirement plans — none of the financial support most of us enjoy from our jobs and careers. A small donation will help this agency provide a valuable safety net in times of need to these beloved entertainers.

I don’t plan on seeing The Avengers, but I’ve donated $15 – the price of a 3-D ticket – to Hero. If every concerned comic fan — every superhero aficionado who learned to live by the lessons of altruism and sacrifice taught by these comics — donated the price of their ticket, well, it may not hit a billion dollars but it’ll bring in a lot of money for a good and relevant cause.

One last note: Remember what Spider-Man always says? “With great power comes great responsibility.” The lesson in that is that everyone has great power. Spider-Man’s great power is being able to lift a bus. Your great power is the ability to help good causes do good work for good reasons, so why not go be a superhero instead of just watching them on the screen?

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