Former Marvel exec Avi Arad is pretty upset over a recent article touting Marvel President Kevin Feige’s role in the company’s comic-book renaissance, and he has a few things to say about it.
BusinessWeek did a piece a month or so ago touting Feige’s role as the brains behind the operation at Marvel, since he’s been at the helm for the past several years -- years that saw the launch of everything from Iron Man to The Avengers. But Arad says he played a much bigger part in making all this happen than we apparently realize.
Arad was CEO at Marvel before the company fully launched its own studio, and he played a key role in previous flicks, such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise. He essentially left in 2006 to start his own company, though he still has a producing role with Marvel. Once Arad left, Feige took the reins when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched, and he's been guiding the ship ever since.
In a scathing email published by Deadline, Arad claims he deserves a lot of the credit for turning the studio into what it is today — most notably for his efforts to regain control over Iron Man. Check out the letter below, which was originally written to the article’s author, Devin Leonard:
“Good morning Devin. As usual you manage to disappoint me with your false statements. I am sure you were told by Marvel that I resigned over the self-financing strategy. It is about time for a reporter like you to do your homework and check the facts. It will sound arrogant to you, but I single handedly put together the Marvel slate. Read it carefully and you will notice the natural progression of the character’s design to get to where we are today.
You should reach out to Merill Lynch and Ambac Insurance and to our international partners that came on board based on my track record. Our financial partners counted on my reputation. I had to work very hard to convert the doubters. They trusted me and without Iron Man this article would have not been written. Iron Man was not even in the original slate. I knew that we needed it so I set out to get it back from Newline and the rest is history.
Our financing would have never happened without me reaching out to Brad Grey to make a distribution deal that will give you a corporate guarantee. Other people in Marvel worked for many months with Universal and could not reach a deal. I got tired of waiting and went to Brad. The deal was done in days, successful for both companies. The big presentation to financial institutions and insurance companies took place on the Paramount lot. I was the presenter and it worked. Does this sound to you like someone who disagreed with the strategy to make our own movies?
I have forgiven Kevin for following orders and taking the credit, but he had no choice. Shame on you for kowtowing to your business gods. I have given up on journalistic integrity. You called me to talk about Kevin and I gave you the most true and glowing account on someone that I love and respect. Share your notes otherwise you just wasted my time. I will share this letter with other papers and your management to demonstrate the unprofessional self-serving work this reporter demonstrated.”
Yikes. It’s hard to say who’s “right” and who’s “wrong” here, and it’s certainly possible Arad’s role has been downplayed with the passage of time. But there’s a big difference in getting the rights back to a character, or getting funding, and actually making a good movie (and movies) out of it. So, yeah ... who knows?
What do you think? Has Arad been short-changed, or is it all just sour grapes?