When fans head to the theater to watch the latest Marvel movies, they are hoping to see giant fights and battles play across the big screen. However, what many fans might not realize is that there are battles behind-the-scenes that might not be as awe-inspiring, but they often leave scars deeper than even the heroes and villains battling on the screen. Many times, these feuds have people walking away from the big money of Marvel, swearing never to return. However, it is rare that the public ever learns all the dirt because Marvel and Disney have a lot of power and non-disclosure agreements.
Despite this, over the years, news has leaked about actors forcing directors out of the editing room, huge fan-favorite directors pushed off a movie entirely, and actors feuding with Marvel producers and directors about their roles. Some of the people have spoken out about their treatment while others have moved on quietly after leaving the superhero studio. From the studio battling its directors and actors to fights with rival movie studios and infighting between branches of the Marvel comic book and movie world, here is a look at 15 of the most notable behind-the-scenes feuds in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
15. EDWARD NORTON TAKES OVER THE INCREDIBLE HULK
After Iron Man, Marvel knew they needed to strike while the iron was hot and their second movie was a reboot with The Incredible Hulk. While Universal still held the rights to solo-Hulk films, Marvel chose to make this the second movie in its new expanded universe and replaced the entire cast from Hulk, including recasting Bruce Banner with Edward Norton. This decision was an interesting casting choice… and one that came back to bite Marvel.
Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) signed on to direct the movie, but his lead actor tried to take control. The word is that Norton was re-writing Zak Penn’s script daily. Marvel then discarded almost everything Norton added in editing, which angered the actor, although he finally conceded to the new cut. Marvel chose not to invite him back and signed Mark Ruffalo, saying the new actor embodied a creative and collaborative spirit. Ouch.
14. UNIVERSAL HOLDS HULK HOSTAGE
While Edward Norton was a handful in The Incredible Hulk, a bigger problem came with Universal. Much like Fox, and for a time Sony, Universal was very territorial of the properties it had licensed from Marvel, and that hasn’t ended, despite the growth of Marvel as a Disney studio. While Fox has held onto its properties by making movies and Sony has agreed to partner with Marvel, Universal just seems intent to sit on The Hulk and not allow Marvel to make another solo movie for the big green hero.
Mark Ruffalo told reporters straight up that there would never be a Hulk standalone movie because Universal refuses to play nice with Marvel. However, Marvel has found a way around it. Instead of making a Planet Hulk movie, they just made that story part of Thor: Ragnarok, something that has to be a middle finger to Universal.
13. IKE PERLMUTTER VS. KEVIN FEIGE
The Marvel Cinematic Universe might have died if Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter had his way. The guy can’t seem to understand what fans want to see and held Marvel back before Kevin Feige finally took control of the MCU. It isn’t just the fact that Perlmutter is cheap and doesn’t want to spend money on the movies (which paid off when Marvel finally opened its wallet), it is his fights behind the scenes at Marvel that have been causing problems.
Perlmutter is the reason there has not been a female-led superhero movie yet. Perlmutter is the reason Joss Whedon left Marvel. Kevin Feige finally demanded to have more control and won. When Marvel joined Disney, Perlmutter lost his power in 2015 and Feige took complete control of the MCU. Because most of the movies seen so far were finished under Perlmutter’s guidance, it is unclear if things improve or not under Feige.
12. JOSS WHEDON CALLS AGE OF ULTRON “UNPLEASANT”
Joss Whedon had more to do with the rise of the MCU than anyone. His Avengers movie is the second highest-grossing film of all-time. However, despite his incredible success and his shepherding of all the other movies in the franchise, he faced interference while making Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon said he had his fingers on all the films in Phase 2, but after making Age of Ultron, he said he was finished and made a complete break from the company.
While that is all Whedon said about leaving, he did make other comments about making Ultron. Whedon said there were things he added to the film that he was forced to add against his better judgment or “executives” would remove scenes he loved – such as the Hawkeye farm scene. According to Whedon, that is when things got unpleasant with Marvel. Now, Joss Whedon is part of the DCEU.
11. MCU VS. MARVEL TV
Just because Kevin Feige is in charge of the MCU after taking control from CEO Ike Perlmutter, that doesn’t mean he is in control of Marvel television. With shows like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter and the upcoming Inhumans tying into the MCU, it is still Perlmutter who controls those properties. However, things are not always pleasant between the movie and TV sides of the company.
The Inhumans were supposed to become a movie, but Perlmutter forced the film into developmental hell and took control of it for himself on television. While that seems petty, Feige and company struck back. Despite Joss Whedon’s brother Jed running S.H.I.E.L.D., he took it on the chin when he was preparing his show and was told, at the last minute, that he needed to cater what was happening to the events of Civil War. With all the interference, it is no wonder the two sides are so disjointed.
10. TERRENCE HOWARD REPLACED IN IRON MAN 2
Terrence Howard did a lot of interviews after he appeared as Rhodey in Iron Man concerning his excitement about the future of the franchise. Howard shot a scene in Iron Man where he looked at the armor and foreshadowed the appearance of War Machine. However, thanks to behind-the-scenes problems, Howard was not invited back. Terrence wanted a raise based on the surprising success of Iron Man, but Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, a penny pincher, said no.
Instead of negotiating with Howard, Perlmutter fired him from the franchise and signed the cheaper Don Cheadle to play Rhodey to help cut costs in the movie. In a shocking statement, Perlmutter said no one would notice because both actors were black. Howard was not amused, claiming in an interview that Robert Downey Jr. accepted a pay raise so Marvel couldn’t pay him more.
9. THE FIGHT FOR QUICKSILVER
When Joss Whedon was making Avengers: Age of Ultron, there was a battle going on between Fox and Marvel. The two sides continue at war when it comes to Fox refusing to relinquish control of the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties. However, some characters live in both worlds, and it turned out that there were some heroes and villains that both companies were allowed to use. One of those is Quicksilver.
Quicksilver is Magneto’s son, but he was also one of the earliest members of The Avengers in the comic books. When Fox cast his character in Days of Future Past, the studio learned he would also appear in Age of Ultron. The two sides clashed, and he ended up in both films. Whedon had Quicksilver die in Ultron because he said he didn’t want to end up with a problem if Marvel one day lost the rights to the character.
8. PATTY JENKINS FIRED FROM THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Looking back on this move, producers at Marvel have to be kicking themselves. Patty Jenkins was hired to direct Thor: The Dark World but something happened behind-the-scenes, and Marvel let her go. This change occurred when CEO Ike Perlmutter was in charge of the movie division, and he seemed to have a problem with many things – including strong female characters in movies. Jenkins would have been the first female director of an MCU movie, but it never happened.
According to Jenkins, she was fighting to make a great film, but she didn’t feel she could make even a good movie out of the script they gave her. Jenkins said that making the movie they were forcing on her would have pushed women directors back decades. Jenkins ended up going to the DCEU and made Wonder Woman, the most successful female superhero movie of all time.
7. NATALIE PORTMAN WANTS OUT OF MARVEL
When Marvel cut ties with director Patty Jenkins, it caused a lot of ripples in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Natalie Portman played Jane Foster, Thor’s love-interest, since the first Thor movie. When the news hit that Patty Jenkins was out of the director’s chair for Thor: The Dark World, Portman was reportedly furious at the decision. While Jenkins said it was mutual and explained that she couldn’t make the movie they gave her to make, Portman didn’t buy it at all.
According to reports, Portman wasn’t going to return to Thor: The Dark World but did because they hired Patty Jenkins. When Jenkins left the project, Portman was contractually obligated to remain in her role, and Marvel is said to have worked hard to appease her. However, after that movie, it appears that Portman is officially finished with the MCU and won’t return for future installments.
6. ALAN TAYLOR HATED DIRECTING THOR: THE DARK WORLD
As if firing Patty Jenkins and angering Natalie Portman wasn’t bad enough, the attitude that replacement director Alan Taylor had when he finished Thor: The Dark World made it worse. Jenkins said the reason she left Marvel was because the script they gave her wasn’t up to snuff and Joss Whedon admitted on Age of Ultron that he wasn’t happy with script choices there either. If Marvel producers bullied Whedon concerning creative decisions, Taylor had no chance.
Taylor told Uproxx after critics slammed Thor: The Dark World that a director should not “make a $170 million movie with someone else’s money” without expecting a lot of collaboration. Taylor said that the entire process was “wrenching” because he shot the film his way and then Marvel changed it in the editing room. Taylor then fired the final shot, saying he would not wish directing a Marvel movie on anyone.
5. IDRIS ELBA RIPS MARVEL MOVIES AFTER AGE OF ULTRON
The case of Idris Elba is a strange one. Marvel cast him to play Heimdall and faced fan backlash for the race change of the character in the movie. However, Elba won fans over with an excellent performance in his limited role in the two Thor films. It looks like Elba will have a significant role in Thor: Ragnarok, but he made some disheartening comments about Marvel while making Age of Ultron.
Elba was contractually required to appear in the movie, but he had just finished the Oscar-nominated Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and said that making a Marvel movie after that “ripped his heart out.” Elba told The Telegraph that taking part in the green screen shooting of a superhero movie was “torture” and he didn’t want to do it anymore. One has to wonder if he ironed things out with Marvel or if Heimdall will die during Ragnarok.
4. MICKEY ROURKE HATES MARVEL
Mickey Rourke is an actor who always speaks his mind, especially when something pisses him off. Unfortunately for Marvel, the studio got on Rourke’s bad side in Iron Man 2, compounding the problems of its worst reviewed movie. Rourke played the villain Whiplash, one of Iron Man’s top enemies from the comics, who ended up as an overpowered lackey in the film.
After Iron Man 2 came out, Rourke complained that his character was supposed to be a layered villain in the movie but the editing team cut most of his scenes and turned him into a generic villain instead of a complex one. Over the years, Rourke has not forgotten this and even brought it up without anyone asking when he appeared on Seth Meyers late night talk show. Rourke said that he is not a fan of Marvel because it cut everything good out of its movies.
3. EDGAR WRIGHT FIRED FROM ANT-MAN
One of the most heartbreaking moments behind-the-scenes at MCU came when Marvel announced that it was parting ways with director Edgar Wright, who had been working on Ant-Man since the start of Phase 1. After eight years of working on the movie with Joe Cornish, Marvel decided to cut ties with the director and moved on to sign Payton Reed, who created a great movie anyway.
When asked by Variety about the reason he left Ant-Man, Wright said he wanted to remain diplomatic. Wright stated that, in the end, he wanted to make a Marvel movie, but Marvel didn’t want to make an Edgar Wright movie. The catalyst was when Marvel producers told Wright they wanted a new script written by someone else for him to direct. He took that as a sign to walk away. Wright retained some credit on Ant-Man, and he was able to move on to make his passion project, Baby Driver.
2. MARVEL SABOTAGES FANTASTIC FOUR AND X-MEN
Ike Perlmutter has done a lot to burn bridges and try to undermine anything that he sees as competition. He is the reason that some actors left the MCU and some directors left its films. Perlmutter is a big reason The Inhumans never got a movie, and that isn’t even his greatest sin. When Fox let Marvel know it was not letting go of X-Men or The Fantastic Four, Perlmutter tried to hurt both franchises.
The Fantastic Four is the grandfather of all Marvel Comics superhero teams, and when Fox announced it was making another Fantastic Four movie for 2015, Marvel suddenly canceled one of its longest-running comic book properties. Perlmutter also sent out a memo telling writers not to use the characters in other books. On TV, which Perlmutter still controls, S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced Inhumans as a replacement for mutants in that world, another attempt to damage a Fox property.
1. IKE PERLMUTTER VS. WOMEN
While this isn’t a behind-the-scenes feud that has gained ground yet, Scarlett Johansson is growing agitated with Marvel’s treatment of female characters. In recent interviews, Johansson hinted that her role as Black Widow might be coming to an end soon. Her reason is the way Marvel movies portray women, most of which are secondary to the men. This attitude started thanks to Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter.
Perlmutter pointed to Supergirl, Elektra and Catwoman as proof that no one cares about female characters, blaming the characters instead of the bad movies. He is why there has never been a Black Widow movie and is why it took up until Kevin Feige wrestled control away from Perlmutter that Marvel finally moved forward on the Captain Marvel movie. Perlmutter’s attitude cost the franchise Natalie Portman and Patty Jenkins, and he allowed the DCEU to trump the MCU thanks to Wonder Woman.
Do you know of any other behind the scenes friction in the MCU? Let us know in the comments!
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