The Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably the most successful film franchise of all
So maybe that's why it's so surprising that Marvel has kept things pretty much drama-free
for so long — but that doesn't mean the studio's record is totally spotless.
Here are a few of the biggest scandals to hit Marvel's movies.
Marvel Studios makes some seriously amazing movies, but it's fair to say a lot of them
can feel pretty similar.
Sure, every so often, a director will put their unique stamp on their film, but for
the most part, Marvel Studios has a uniform tone they want to hit with all their films.
And if a director sees things differently, they might soon find themselves out of a job.
The MCU has been involved in a couple public spats with high-profile directors.
Most recently, Ava DuVernay walked away from Black Panther, saying she declined the project
because it just wasn't going to be an Ava DuVernay film.
Patty Jenkins also had her fair share of issues when it came to dealing with Marvel.
She was hired to direct Thor: The Dark World, but after just two months she made the decision
to leave the sequel, as Marvel wasn't interested in the story Jenkins wanted to tell.
Perhaps the most infamous example of Marvel and a filmmaker clashing heads is the sad
story of Edgar Wright.
The English auteur had been attached to Ant-Man since 2006, but things just didn't go according
"The most diplomatic you know, answer is, I wanted to make a Marvel movie but they didn’t
want to make an Edgar Wright movie."
After the studio decided to rewrite the script without him, Wright said so long to the MCU
It was a disappointing departure and proof that no filmmaker can stray too far from the
For the most part, actors seem to really enjoy working on Marvel projects… but not everyone
has enjoyed their time with the Avengers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Natalie Portman really wanted Patty Jenkins to direct
Thor: The Dark World, so the actress naturally became quite upset with the studio when they
parted ways with the filmmaker.
Portman stuck around for the film anyway due to contractual obligations, but she was quickly
written out of the franchise with a throwaway line in Thor: Ragnarok.
“Sorry to hear Jane dumped you.”
“She didn’t dump me, you know.
I dumped HER.
It was a mutual dumping.”
Mickey Rourke also found himself frustrated with the studio after Iron Man 2.
Rourke wanted to flesh out the character of Ivan Vanko and worked to create a more complex
character for the film.
But according to Rourke, Marvel producers cut almost all of that out, leaving us with
a far less interesting version of the role.
Of course, the most infamous examples of Marvel arguing with actors is how the studio treated
the original Bruce Banner, Edward Norton, and the first Colonel Rhodes: Terrence Howard.
While both men are notoriously difficult to work with, it seems they were cut from the
franchise largely due to financial and creative issues.
When Guardians of the Galaxy came out in 2014, you wouldn't have found much Gamora merchandise
And when Avengers: Age of Ultron hit theaters, Black Widow merchandise was almost impossible
The situation was so bad, in fact, that Mark Ruffalo actually called Marvel out on it.
When it came to merch, female superheroes just weren't getting any respect, and it's
largely thanks to Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter.
Back in the day, Perlmutter was the CEO of Marvel, and he was in charge of everything:
movies, TV shows, and publication.
Unfortunately, by all accounts, Perlmutter wasn't the biggest fan of diversity.
In fact, he was adamantly against making female merchandise, saying it wouldn't sell.
It was so bad that when Shane Black wanted to make Maya Hansen the main villain for Iron
Man 3, Marvel brass said no way, claiming nobody would ever buy her toy.
Needless to say, Marvel fans were pretty incensed by Perlmutter's misogyny, but his outdated
opinions were bad for the company in more ways than one…
These days, the MCU is a largely inclusive place, what with films like Captain Marvel
and Black Panther.
But things haven't always been so welcoming around Marvel Studios — especially when
Perlmutter was in charge.
When Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2, for example, the CEO allegedly
said nobody would notice because black people "look the same."
So it's easy to see why it took so long for Marvel to make a movie led by a black superhero.
Fortunately, in 2015, there was a major reorganization inside Marvel, wherein Disney changed Perlmutter's
title from CEO to Chairman of Marvel Entertainment.
More importantly, while Perlmutter is still in charge of the company's publications and
TV shows, producer Kevin Feige has been given full control of Marvel Studios — the filmmaking
branch of the company.
And when you look at how amazing Phase 3 has been, it's easy to see how Perlmutter was
holding the MCU back.
In the lead-up to Avengers: Age of Ultron, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner were doing an
interview with Digital Spy when the subject of Black Widow came up.
In the MCU, Black Widow works alongside multiple male heroes and has close friendships with
both Hawkeye and Captain America.
She's never romantically involved with either of them, and although some fans like to speculate
about relationships between these characters, it's never implied in the movies themselves.
But when word got out that Natasha actually was somehow involved with Bruce Banner in
the upcoming film, Digital Spy asked Evans and Renner w hat they thought about Black
Widow's relationships with the three aforementioned male characters.
"She's a slut.”
“I knew he was gonna say something along that line.
She’s a complete whore.”
Obviously, this did not sit well with the fan base, and after a huge outcry, Evans and
Renner published apologies in Entertainment Weekly.
While Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot going for it, the movie was hit with multiple controversies.
For example, somebody thought it was a good idea to have Tony Stark make this joke.
“So if I lift it, I then rule Asgard?”
“I will be reinstituting prima nocta."
And then there was the Black Widow debacle.
During the film, the black-clad hero calls herself a monster after saying she was forcibly
sterilized at a school for assassins.
This sent shockwaves through the fanbase as many were furious that Widow would consider
herself a monster for not being able to have children, and the outrage was so severe that
it allegedly drove director Joss Whedon off Twitter.
But this wasn't the only incident that gave Whedon headaches.
The Marvel brass kept forcing him to alter the notorious scene where Thor goes spelunking
for info on the Infinity Stones.
Whedon was so frustrated with the changes that he wanted to cut the scene, but Marvel
said if he did that he would also have to lose the scene where the Avengers arrive at
The studio allegedly also wanted him to drop the scenes where the Avengers come under the
spell of Scarlet Witch.
The back-and-forth drama resulted in a very messy movie, and even though Mark Ruffalo
would go on to beg Whedon to stay in the franchise, the director reportedly said he'd never direct
a Marvel movie again.
Love 'em or hate 'em, film critics are an essential part of the Hollywood machine — they
impact the conversation surrounding a movie and can define a film's legacy.
So unless they're dreading bad reviews, movie studios usually allow critics to view advanced
screenings of their films.
That way, good reviews can build buzz and get people excited before a movie hits theaters.
But in 2017, Disney laid the hammer down, refusing to give an advanced screening of
Thor: Ragnarok to the Los Angeles Times.
So what motivated Disney to keep the Times out of Asgard?
Well, the paper had published a series of stories on the relationship between the movie
studio and the city of Anaheim, California, where Disney is based.
According to the Times, Anaheim gives the company an insane amount of perks, and Disney
has even tried to influence the city's elections.
Obviously, Disney wasn't crazy about this kind of scrutiny, and while it never denied
the stories were true, it enacted a ban against the newspaper, starting with Thor: Ragnarok.
However, in the wake of Disney's move against the L.A. Times, pretty much every journalist
in the U.S. banded together to fight the studio.
Multiple critics organizations refused to consider Disney films for awards, and outlets
such as the Washington Post and the New York Times said they wouldn't attend Disney events.
Disney rescinded the ban after four days.
Perhaps the most notorious scandal to ever hit the MCU, the James Gunn controversy started
in 2018 when a group of right-wing Twitter users delved deep into the director's Twitter
They unearthed a series of controversial tweets about some pretty dark topics, and while Gunn
meant them as jokes, they really weren't at all funny.
This revelation prompted Disney to fire Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise,
which turned the Marvel world upside-down.
Twitter erupted over Gunn's firing, and the cast of Guardians all stuck up for Gunn, signing
a petition asking Disney to hire him back.
Gunn himself profusely apologized for the tweets, saying he'd changed as a person over
the years and no longer made such provocative "jokes."
Others pointed out the folks who brought down Gunn were probably less worried about his
inappropriate tweets and more interested in silencing a high-profile critic of President
Wishing to avoid controversy, Disney stuck by its guns and refused to bring Gunn back…
The House of Mouse had searched for someone to place the director but to no avail.
And then news broke that Gunn had been hired by DC to write and direct a Suicide Squad
Shortly afterward, Disney rehired Gunn to finish his sci-fi trilogy.
It was an unprecedented move for the company, and while some fans were disappointed, most
were elated to see Gunn back in charge of the Guardians.
When it comes to Asian representation, the MCU has been plagued by a whole heap of problems.
When Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soared into theaters, most fans were pleased with
the latest installment in James Gunn's planned trilogy.
However, the character of Mantis proved especially troublesome for critics of the film.
In the comics, Mantis is a feminist icon, a powerful psychic, and a formidable warrior
who has defeated the likes of Thor, Iron Man, and Black Panther.
This woman can hold her own with Marvel's best, but that's obviously not the version
we got in the James Gunn film.
Played by Pom Klementieff, the MCU Mantis is timid and fearful.
On top of that, she constantly refers to to Ego as "master," and some have argued this
plays into racist stereotypes about Asian women being submissive.
Even Steve Englehart, who co-created the comics character, came out and said:
"I was not happy with Mantis' portrayal.
That character has nothing to do with Mantis."
Then there's Doctor Strange.
During production on the film, director Scott Derrickson realized that gender-swapping the
Sorcerer Supreme would cause him to stumble into another Asian stereotype: that of the
Dragon Lady, a domineering and mysterious Asian woman of age with duplicitous motives.
To get around this, he cast Tilda Swinton in the role — which frustrated critics anyway,
who accused Derrickson and Marvel of whitewashing the character.
In 2019, however, Marvel took a step in the right direction by announcing its first ever
Asian-led film: Shang-Chi.
That project isn't without controversy either, though, and the hero's complicated past has
stirred up criticism in China.
According to the South China Morning Post, Marvel fans took to Weibo — China's version
of Twitter — to voice their frustrations about Shang-Chi's father Fu Manchu, a white-hating
Chinese mystic who was created to play into fears of the so-called "Yellow Peril."
Luckily, there's no way you could put Fu Manchu on the silver screen today, and as long as
Marvel realizes that they should be able to avoid provoking controversy over the character
— this time, at least.
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