According to Hollywood insiders, VFX artists fear being blacklisted by “industry bully” Marvel Studios, particularly executive Victoria Alonso.
Industry insiders have claimed that Marvel Studios has a “blacklist” of visual effects artists it won’t hire again, allegedly perpetuated by long-time executive and head of the VFX department Victoria Alonso.
According to various VFX workers who spoke to Vulture, Marvel’s steady output and unusually heavy VFX needs have allowed it to become a powerful force within the industry, making or breaking careers based on the whims of executives. The fear of the Marvel blacklist is reportedly common knowledge in the VFX community. “The blacklist is very talked about,” said one Georgia-based VFX worker. “I don’t know anyone that’s seen it for real. But it’s a common thing that comes up whenever effects people talk together. ‘If you do X, Y, or Z, Marvel will blacklist you and you won’t be working for them again.” According to that worker, one guaranteed route to the blacklist is leaving a project early — for any reason.
Victoria Alonso, who serves as President of Physical, Post Production, VFX and Animation for Marvel Studios, was cited by some as the problem. This included a Vancouver-based VFX tech who has vowed never to work for Marvel again. “The main one that everyone’s quite scared of is Victoria Alonso,” they said. “She is known in the industry as a kingmaker. If she likes you, you are going to get work and move up in the industry. If you have pissed her off in any way, you’re going to get frozen out.”
The existence of any industry blacklists was called a “myth” by one UK-based VFX artist, Joe Pavlo, who has been involved in organizing UK VFX workers. According to Pavlo, studios like Marvel have too much VFX work to afford cutting anyone out.
Who Is Marvel Studios’ Victoria Alonso?
In recent years, Alonso, herself bisexual and married to actress Imelda Corcoran, has been most prominent within Marvel Studios as a voice for increased diversity and representation, being one of the first to publicly push for a gay superhero, promising that the company will do better on LGBTQ+ representation in their projects, and making it a priority to avoid the objectification of female characters in 2021’s Black Widow.
Alonso first joined Marvel in 2005, serving as executive vice president of visual effects and post-production until being promoted to her current title in 2021. She has served as an executive producer on every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since The Avengers in 2012, and in 2016 became the first woman to win the Advanced Imaging Society’s Harold Lloyd Award for achievement in visual effects.
Marvel Studios remain the biggest employer of VFX artists not to have its own in-house VFX department, an option which has been rumored to be under consideration within the last few years. The choice to stop outsourcing the work may be a way to address the criticisms VFX artists have leveled against the studio in the last few years of underpaying workers by industry standards, creating unrealistic project timelines and deadlines, and other serious issues.