The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe includes an abundance of inclusive superheroes in leading roles, from “Black Widow” to “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “The Eternals,” a She-Hulk project, and more. Kevin Feige promised MCU fans the fourth phase of the franchise would be its most diverse yet, and he appears to be walking the walk on that front. In a new interview with The Independent, MCU staple Mark Ruffalo says Feige fought long and hard against Disney executives to get the MCU to an inclusive place. The battle between the two parties dates back to at least the first “Avengers,” which opened theatrically in 2012.
“When we did the first ‘Avengers,’ Kevin Feige told me, ‘Listen, I might not be here tomorrow,’” Ruffalo said. “And he’s like, ‘Ike does not believe that anyone will go to a female-starring super movie.’ So if I am still here tomorrow you will know that I won that battle.’”
Feige’s biggest roadblock in getting a more inclusive MCU was Ike Perlmutter, the former CEO and current chairman of Marvel Entertainment. Perlmutter is a controversial figure even outside of his alleged hesitation to diversify the MCU. The billionaire executive infamously itemized bags of popcorn and soda given to press at “Iron Man” screenings in 2008, and he maintains a relationship with Donald Trump and has financially backed the president. Feige has long served as president of Marvel Studios, but he was promoted in October 2019 to Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer. The promotion reduces Perlmutter’s influence on Marvel’s brand, meaning the days of fighting with the executive to ensure diversity are over.
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“That was the turning point for Marvel,” Ruffalo told The Independent about Feige nearly quitting. “Because Kevin wanted black superheroes, women superheroes, LGBT superheroes. He changed the whole Marvel universe. We now have gay superheroes, we have black superheroes, we have female superheroes — Scarlett Johansson has her movie coming out, we have ‘Captain Marvel,’ they are doing She Hulk next. No other studio is being that forwardly inclusive on that level. They have to, though. This is the fucking world. The culture is way ahead of the politics.”
Ruffalo is set to return to the MCU as Bruce Banner/Hulk, although Marvel Studios has yet to confirm in what project. Next up for the actor is a starring role in Derek Cianfrance’s limited series “I Know This Much Is True,” premiering on HBO in April