This week we learned that Disney restructured Marvel Studios so that it no longer sat under the purview of... eccentric billionaire Ike Perlmutter. Ike, known for penny pinching to a frankly absurdist degree, as well as a guy given to the sorts of outbursts that prompt lawsuits, was a dark cloud hanging over Marvel's day to day operations. But getting away from Ike isn't the only big move that has happened at Marvel recently.
Yesterday my friend El Mayimbe of Heroic Hollywood reported on Periscope that there has been a shake-up of the Creative Committee at Marvel, and I can now confirm that. Not only has there been a shake-up, I believe that the Creative Committee is actually finished altogether, although some version of it may continue to live on at Marvel TV, which remains under Ike's control.
What was the Creative Committee? It was a group of people who would give notes and thoughts on Marvel productions as they made their way from script to screen. Some of the guys on the committee included Alan Fine, who came with Perlmutter to Marvel through Toy Biz, Brian Michael Bendis, who is a prolific Marvel Comics writer, Dan Buckley, publisher of Marvel Comics and Joe Quesada, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and the current Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Enterprises.
On paper that sounds like a great line-up of talent, but it seems as if in practice it was often a source of frustration. Over the years I've heard many stories of the Creative Committee giving notes that are pedestrian, motivated by 'save the cat' story logic and sometimes a drag on creativity. One Marvel creative talked to me about battles with the Creative Committee where they focused on details of nit-picky science that ignored the general tone of the script itself. The notes that drove Edgar Wright off Ant-Man came from the Creative Committee. What's more, the Creative Committee was often very tardy with their notes, making movie development a much slower process. All of the Committee members have other, very important jobs, so you understand why that would be the case, but it was a pain for filmmakers. And that's before taking into account the political divisions within Marvel that also created friction with the Creative Committee.
Now that the Creative Committee has been dissolved and now that Ike is out of the picture, Marvel Studios is facing a real new dawn. It won't be evident on Captain America: Civil War or maybe Doctor Strange, which is already deep in pre-production, but everything coming afterwards could reflect a new energy at Marvel. Key creative decisions are now being made by Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito and Victoria Alonso alone. Any drag or difficulty caused by the Creative Committee is over, and any skinflint choices and bizarre decisions made by Ike are out of the way (trivia: I understand the reason there are no Black Widow toys is specifically because Ike, with a background in toys, believes girl toys do not sell and thus vetoed them again and again. One guy was the roadblock.), and now we're going to see Marvel Studios operating at full power as it goes into Phase Three. I don't think this means we're going to see Captain Marvel suddenly get a $300 million budget - I think Marvel understands that reasonable frugality is what has allowed Ant-Man to become a success - but I think we're going to see happier actors, more dynamic creative visions and a Kevin Feige who could be leading Marvel well into the next decade. More than that, I think the doors to diversity have opened in a big way, especially post-Ike.
When they write the book about Marvel Studios this is going to be a big chapter.