Chairman and former CEO of Marvel Entertainment Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, who donated to a Donald Trump super PAC in 2016, is the real reason for the absence of Black Widow action figures, according to sources close to the studio. A Vanity Fair profile of studio president Kevin Feige, the man responsible for the blockbuster success of the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe, reveals that Disney “quietly sidelines” Perlmutter in 2015 due to his “outdated opinions about casting, budgeting, and merchandising.”
The article continues: “For example, Perlmutter, citing his years in the toy-making business, reportedly made the decision to scale back production of Black Widow-themed merchandise in 2015 because he believed ‘girl’ superhero products wouldn’t sell.”
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow first appeared in 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” but the character did not receive her own action figure until she showed up as part of “The Avengers” two years later. The controversy re-surfaced with 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” when the toy version of the character’s key scene featured Captain America instead of Black Widow. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora from “Guardians of the Galaxy” is also conspicuously missing from Marvel merchandise.
Fans have long been suspected Perlmutter was the one responsible for the studio’s tone-deaf merchandising choices, but this is the first time a studio source has confirmed it. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Perlmutter is often seen at Mar-a-Lago, and had “been informally advising Mr. Trump on veterans issues.”
Given Trump’s well-documented misogynistic views and behavior, it is not surprising that a known associate of his would hold similar views. What is surprising is that Disney/Marvel listened to him for so long. With Warner Bros.’ and DC’s recent success with “Wonder Woman,” here’s hoping Marvel won’t make the same mistakes again.
Read the full Vanity Fair profile on Kevin Feige and Marvel here.