The fallout from which movies caused the recent Marvel restructuring?

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Following on from last week’s huge shakeups over at Marvel, some further info has come to light. And it’s extremely interesting stuff! So what was the proverbial camel back breaking straw that caused Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to finally get himself out from under the controversial thumb of Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter and disband the tampering Marvel Creative Committee? Well, there appears to be two sides to this story.

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On the one hand, it’s being reported by THR that after years of disagreements, it all came to a head over Captain America: Civil War. The third Cap film is basically Avengers 2.5 with a huge ensemble cast that sets up the future of the Marvel universe. It’s a big movie and thus has a big budget. However when “New York” – that’s shorthand for the infamous penny pinching Ike Perlmutter and the interfering Marvel Creative Committee – voiced concerns wanting Feige to excise aspects of the film to drop the budget, Feige apparently had enough of having his well-deserved leadership being questioned and started contemplating quitting Marvel. As one of THR’s insider sources put it:

“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?”

As the main creative force that made Marvel Studios the success it’s become, Feige certainly wouldn’t want for job offers from the competition. So to keep their primary breadwinner happy, Disney CEO Bob Iger had some meetings and came up with the new structure which would see Feige reporting only to Disney’s Alan Fine, with nobody above him in Marvel to interrogate him on every decision he makes.

All of that makes perfect sense and falls in line with the narrative we’ve been hearing for years about Feige and the filmmakers he employed having struggles with New York – the MCC apparently drove out Edgar Wright on Ant-Man and Joss Whedon also had his battles with the higher-ups on Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it’s that latter movie that is at the centre of the other reason being reported for the Marvel restructuring.

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It’s a pretty well known fact that Age of Ultron was not received, critically or financially, as unanimously well as its predecessor. It’s still a good film that made a crap load of cash ($1.4 billion, just $100 million short of The Avengers), but Disney were apparently expecting it to eclipse Whedon’s first film in every way and thus it has somehow come to be termed a failure internally. One aspects of this “failure” is that Age of Ultron had some lengthy and expensive reshoots, which added to the film’s budget and thus lessened it’s profitability.

And according to Bleeding Cool, those reshoots could have been avoided if Feige has listened to some of the early suggestions from the MCC. However, Bleeding Cool claims that Feige’s camp has now spun the story around, basically hanging the “failure” of Age of Ultron around Ike Perlmutter’s neck and using it to gain the already very popular Feige more power. According to one of Bleeding Cool’s sources, “if you want a target on your back, just say no to Kevin.”

You might ask why Perlmutter would just accept this if it were not the case, but the 72-year old executive is in extremely private recluse (you can’t even find a picture of the guy online), so he’s most definitely not going to speak out about this in public. The question though is how would Feige convince Marvel’s parent company of Disney to go along with this? Disney’s Bob Iger and Alan Fine certainly do not appear to be incompetent at their jobs and if it was Feige that resulted in them losing millions, I don’t think they would just go along with it. Even Bleeding Cool can’t seem to find answer to this one.

My gut tells me that the first scenario involving Captain America: Civil War is the more likely catalyst here for Marvel’s restructuring, as the evidence here just matches up with all the stories we’ve been hearing for years, and not with this recent claim of Feige as a double-dealing exec. But honestly, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle between those two scenarios.

Whatever the truth is, the changes have happened and they’re sure to have some ramifications on Marvel’s future movies. As THR reports, the notoriously frugal Perlmutter not being in the picture could be a huge deal for their actors.

In terms of how business is done on the film side, the impact of the shake-up is not yet clear. “Why would it change?” says one top agent. “It’s proven to be successful, and everyone still wants to be part of the Marvel Universe.” But another top dealmaker holds out hope that the company will ease up on its notoriously tough terms in talent deals for all but the biggest Marvel stars. “I’m secretly hoping that it gets better with this realignment,” this person says. “They’re cheap, they’re aggressive. It certainly can’t get any worse.”

Another person who has dealt with Marvel on numerous deals expressed hope that Marvel may loosen its tight reins on talent deal points. For example, Marvel, with several exceptions, does not pay merchandising royalties, which is not the industry norm, according to this source. Also, Marvel demands the right to use up to three minutes of an actor’s performance from one movie for another, described as “bridging material,” when the broader norm is 30 seconds.

Adds another top player: “I think it will be smoother and easier without Ike.”

That certainly sounds like an improvement, but that’s on the business side of things. Whether the shakeup is good or bad thing for us fans who just want to watch great films, well we’ll just have to wait and see.

Last Updated: September 7, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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