Bloomberg Businessweek‘s profile of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, timed to coincide with the release this week of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, naturally focuses on the film division, but it also drops some fascinating nuggets about the company’s corporate culture and the 2009 purchase by Disney.
• “In March, Feige gave me a tour of Marvel Studios at Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif.,” writes Devin Leonard. “The offices are furnished like a college dormitory, with threadbare couches. The hallways are decorated with cardboard superheroes hawking Pizza Hut and Burger King. There’s barely enough room in Feige’s office for a replica of Thor’s hammer.” While that description may come as a surprise to some, Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter has a well-established reputation as a penny-pincher, reusing paper, limiting the number of coffee pots and even fishing paperclips out of trashcans.
Disney CEO Bob Iger reveals that Perlmutter didn’t like the idea of moving the Marvel Studios offices from Manhattan Beach to the Disney lot, “because he thought that it would change their culture.” “He liked lean and mean,” he recalls, “and he didn’t think we were lean and mean enough.”
• Of course, Perlmutter, who was propelled onto Forbes’ lists of wealthiest Americans and world billionaires following the $4 billion sale of Marvel, has also been rumored as a thorn in Iger’s side. However, Iger dismisses those whispers, saying, “I was told beforehand that he’s difficult to work with and he’ll be on your back all the time. He’s been great.” (It’s worth noting that Perlmutter is Disney’s second-largest individual shareholder, behind the estate of Steve Jobs.)
• I wondered in May 2010 how Marvel’s endlessly trumpeted library of characters had grown from “over 5,000” when the Disney acquisition was announced to 7,000 just eight months later (the figure now stands at more than 8,000). Iger has the amusing answer, which involves Disney interns reading pile after pile of Marvel comics and counting the characters. “Every office you went into there were Marvel comic books,” he recalls. “The count kept going up. They kept discovering more.”