Marvel Comics are a legend in their own right, and of course the feeder for the far more lucrative Marvel movies, but likely now to be merged – perhaps submerged would be a better choice of words – into the broad Disney Publishing section of the Disney empire.
Over at ComicsBeat, Heidi MacDonald offers a no-holds-barred perspective on the ousting of Ike Perlmutter, Marvel/Disney’s very own real-life villain.
“To say that many people had been waiting for the day that Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter was removed from running Marvel Comics would be a severe understatement. A cranky cheapskate who didn’t think women or Black people could headline movies, Ike was an irascible boss who prevented talented people from doing their jobs.”
Disney bought but Marvel way back in 2009, and the occasional movie flop aside it might appear to have been a non-stop success story, but those who follow the comics industry will know of the barely-concealed tensions within Marvel, and of the low opinion many had of Perlmutter, a dinosaur that refused to face extinction.
Per MacDonald, “Perlmutter is reported to have opposed Captain Marvel and Black Panther, or any MCU film that didn’t star a white man or two (and) blocked Black Widow toys.”
Perlmutter’s racism and misogyny was legendary. Per MacDonald:
* When Terrence Howard wanted a raise for the role of Rhodey in the Iron Man franchise, Ike Perlmutter fired him and hired Don Cheadle, allegedly telling a Disney exec that no one would notice because Black people “look the same.”
* He told Sony head Michael Lynton that female led superhero movies would all fail.
The racism and misogyny were accompanied by misery qualities Ebenezer Scrooge himself would be ashamed to admit to. Again per MacDonald:
* He told Marvel employees they should buy their own toilet paper.
* He told Marvel employees they could only make one pot of coffee a day.
* He literally went through wastebaskets and fished out paper clips and post it notes.
So no tears over Perlmutter’s ignoble – and it was ignoble – dismissal.
But where does that leave the comics division of Marvel?
That’s not so clear, right now. Marvel Comics are a legend in their own right, and of course the feeder for the far more lucrative Marvel movies, but likely now to be merged – perhaps submerged would be a better choice of words – into the broad Disney Publishing section of the Disney empire.
Little question Marvel Comics will live on within Disney, but for now Marvel Entertainment is no more. MacDonald posits it was a necessary evil for Bob Iger to cull Marvel Entertainment in order to make Perlmutter, the Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, redundant.
Leaving the big questions what and who will take on those roles.
In cold financial terms, Marvel comics is a drag on the company. It make a profit, but so does selling lemonade on the street corner. In Disney terms, Marvel Comics is a paying hobby, not a business (just $50 million, per MacDonald referencing the New York Times), but Marvel Comics cannot easily be separated from its bigger cousin, Marvel Studios.
At a time when all big corps are in cost-cutting mode, and when Marvel movies appear to have reached cruising altitude, the role of Marvel Comics as the incubator for Disney’s real business of movie-making means it is likely safe, but not immune from the challenges that lie ahead across the entertainment industry.
Last month DC Comics was hit by layoffs as parent Warner Bros Discovery reigned in spending.
For both Marvel and DC the likely casualties will be innovation, new ideas and, inevitably, the lesser characters and comics and tv shows and small-beer movies that in better times might have made the grade.
But this is recession economics, not the decline of the comics industry. The rollercoaster ride will continue, and the next crest is just over the horizon.