The man who is the public face of Marvel Studios apparently came close to leaving the company over Captain America: Civil War.
As reported earlier this week, the Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment has gone through a restructuring, with the film division and its president, Kevin Feige, reporting directly to Disney film chairman Alan Horn instead of longtime Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, who still oversees the TV and publishing operations.
By all accounts, this has been seen as a good move, especially for Feige, who finally broke away from the control of the notoriously temperamental and penny-pinching Perlmutter. But the whole thing could have gone quite differently and ended with Feige leaving the company.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Perlmutter was unhappy with the fact that Captain America: Civil War's budget had escalated as the film became comparable in size -- and in cast -- to a third Avengers movie and wanted to "scale it down," according to one inside source. The New York-based Perlmutter was backed by what has been called Marvel's "Creative Committee," a brain trust consisting of Perlmutter right-hand man Alan Fine, Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada that has often pulled back the reins on the studio's productions.
Feige apparently got so frustrated with Perlmutter, the Committee and the situation over Civil War that he contemplated leaving Marvel entirely -- until Disney CEO Bob Iger stepped in and launched the reorganization that got Feige away from Perlmutter and the others.
One insider said, "New York had a big say for a long time but hasn't Kevin earned the right to some autonomy? He’s made the company billions. Why is he reporting to a 72-year-old man who doesn’t make movies?”
What does this mean for the future? Well, it could mean a loosening of Marvel's purse strings when it comes to budgets and especially to courting talent for its movies -- although, to be fair, the relatively low budget of a riskier movie like Ant-Man can sometimes work in a film's favor. It also means that we might soon see more diversity in the casting of Marvel characters and hiring of filmmakers -- something that Perlmutter was said to be against (it was also Perlmutter who reportedly nixed making Black Widow toys for girls).
Perhaps most importantly, this almost assuredly keeps Kevin Feige at the head of the Marvel ship through Phase Three and perhaps now Phase Four. While no one is indispensable, he has not only been the face of the studio but the man with the overall vision and game plan that has guided the Marvel Cinematic Universe to unprecedented success.
I've met and interviewed Feige several times, and his love and knowledge of the Marvel canon are real. Continuity may not always be important in the world of comic books, but in the case of the MCU, it might be the key factor.