Ahead of Marvel Studios’ 2016 release, Captain America: Civil War, Kevin Feige found himself as the focal point of a civil war at Disney. Long frustrated by interference from Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter and the influence of the now infamous creative committee, Feige nearly left Marvel before coming to terms on a new deal with CEO Bob Iger that allowed him to skip Perlmutter and report directly to Disney Studios chair Alan Horn. After a brief retirement, Iger has returned to Disney and in an interview with CNBC, shed new light on the old dispute.
According to Iger, Perlmutter and Feige’s feud reached the point where the former was set on firing the latter. Iger’s interference made Perlmutter unhappy and Iger says that those hard feelings exist to this day.
It’s hard to imagine what Marvel Studios might have looked like had Feige been broomed in 2015. Perlmutter’s preferred slate of films included Inhumans and had no place for films such as Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Perlmutter‘s notes on a potential Black Panther film, which grossed almost $1.35B, included “Black characters” underperforming globally. Iger, who has long championed diversity at Disney, pushed back and pushed both films, through. Captain Marvel took in $1.31B and joined Black Panther earning sequels. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has grossed $842M to date and Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, is set to open later this year.
Since Feige split away from Perlmutter, Marvel Studios has produced 3 of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time in Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Though his tenure has not been without some bumps in the road and the studio’s latest phase, Phase 4, has been under fire for the uneven quality of its projects, Feige has certainly accomplished something unprecedented in Hollywood, something that nearly never got off the ground.