While Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has become synonymous with the super-powered franchise, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Feige was almost fired at one point.
Kevin Feige and the MCU are just about to kick off their 15th year atop the movie-making world, with Feige having shepherded the biggest movie franchise in cinematic history.
However, that has not come without its bumps in the road. While things may look like everything is all sunshine and rainbows from the outside, Feige has had his fair share of struggles, including navigating a global pandemic, dealing with changing Disney regimes, and losing one of the franchise's biggest names.
For a long time, the Marvel Studios executive actually butted heads with Marvel Entertainment management, something that almost led the Hollywood giant to jump to DC.
Marvel's Kevin Feige Faced Possible Axing in 2015
In a recent interview with CNBC, newly-reinstated Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that in 2015, Kevin Feige was almost fired from Marvel Studios.
Iger said that former Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter was near firing Feige before Iger "stepped in to prevent that from happening:"
"In 2015, he was intent on firing Kevin Feige, who was running Marvel Studios, or the movie making, at the time, and I thought that was a mistake, and stepped in to prevent that from happening. I think Kevin is an incredibly, incredibly talented executive. The Marvel track record speaks for itself, and so I moved the movie-making operation of Marvel out from under Ike into the movie studio.”
Iger noted "you’d have to ask Ike" if this created any ill will towards Feige and the Disney CEO, but remarked that Perlmutter "was not happy about that" and "that unhappiness [still] exists today:"
CNBC: “So, that created some ill-will, you think?”
Iger: “Well, you’d have to ask Ike about that, but let’s put it this way, he was not happy about that, and I think that unhappiness exists today. And what the link is, between that and Nelson, his relationship, I think that’s something that you can speculate about. I won’t.”
The Disney CEO also went into what it was like working with Perlmutter after Disney bought Marvel in 2009. He called his relationship with the former Marvel executive "a curious dynamic." Iger noted that at the time "[he] promised [Perlmutter] a job," but it was one that would not "[last] forever necessarily:"
"I think that’s a curious dynamic. I think our filings indicate that both Ike and Nelson were working together to try to encourage the board or convince the board to put Nelson on the board. They have a relationship that dates back quite some time. We bought Marvel in 2009. I promised Ike a job that he would continue to run Marvel after that, not forever necessarily, but after that."
Iger previously described the strained relationship between Feige and Perlmutter, noting that Feige's "relationship with New York [where Perlmutter was based] was threatening his continued success:"
“Kevin is one of the most talented film executives in the business, but my sense was that the strained relationship with New York was threatening his continued success."
This led the Disney CEO to "intervene," thus splitting "Marvel’s movie-making unit off from the rest of Marvel" and bringing them "under Alan Horn and the Walt Disney Studios:"
"I knew I had to intervene, and so in May 2015, I made the decision to split Marvel’s movie-making unit off from the rest of Marvel and bring it under Alan Horn and the Walt Disney Studios. Kevin would now report directly to Alan, and would benefit from his experience, and the tensions that had built up between him and the New York office would be alleviated.”
Marvel's Near-Massive Mistake
This is a shocking story to see written out but one that does make sense given the context of Kevin Feige's relationship with the greater Marvel brand nearly a decade ago.
It has been made clear that Feige and Ike Perlmutter had a strained relationship, so for the Marvel Entertainment president to want to oust Feige is not all that surprising.
Perhaps it had something to do with Feige potentially overstepping and trying to influence the comics side of the business. Or maybe it was the reverse and Perlmutter was wanting input into the future of the MCU. Either way, it worked out in Feige, Bob Iger, and Marvel's favor.
If Feige had been let go in 2015, especially knowing what the franchise would go on to become, this would have easily been one of the biggest blunders in Hollywood history.
As fans just witnessed on the DC side, these Feige-like minds are hard to come by. Sure, Marvel Studios may have been able to find a worthy replacement, but with so many balls in the air at that point as the franchise headed out of Phase 3 and into the run-up to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it would have been near-impossible for someone to jump into that seat and hit the ground running.
Kevin Feige's next MCU epic, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, is due out in theaters on Friday, February 17.