The inter-company rivalry between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television continues to fascinate me. Now, with news circulating that Marvel Television won’t be proceeding with their Gabriel Luna-starring Ghost Rider show, insiders are chalking it up to yet another casualty of behind-the-scenes drama between the two Marvel limbs. Theoretically, the two companies should work in harmony, with the idea being that Marvel Studios focuses on big screen MCU adventures, while Television spearheads MCU TV like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the now-cancelled Netflix shows.
What eventually transpired though were series about Marvel superheroes that were nominally set in the same universe as the movies, and which occasionally made a vague reference to the Battle of New York, but were for the most part entirely separate. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, the Punisher and Iron Fist never stood a chance of making it into any big screen movie, and their isolation within the MCU made it easy for the studio to pull the plug without affecting their multi-billion dollar cinematic franchise.
The reason for this division is the relationship between Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige and Marvel Television’s Ike Perlmutter (who’s also CEO of Marvel Entertainment as a whole). The two reportedly clashed on political grounds, with Feige wanting to introduce a more obscure and diverse cast of heroes to the MCU (a philosophy that resulted in mega-hits like Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther), while Perlmutter pushed for more traditional white, male heroes.
Feige was reportedly particularly disgusted that when discussing the replacement of Terrence Howard by Don Cheadle as James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, Perlmutter stated that black people “all look the same” – a comment soon followed by three African-American Marvel executives leaving the company and receiving financial settlements.
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The situation soon developed into a serious animosity, compounded by Feige’s liberal political leanings and Perlmutter’s involvement in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (he’s now one of Trump’s closest advisors and rumored for a cabinet position). Despite Feige’s pet projects raking in billions at the box office, he threatened to walk unless he could work independently. Feige clearly won the battle and Perlmutter was sidelined by Disney and put in charge of the less prestigious TV projects.
Now, with Feige’s Marvel Studios taking charge of the numerous high profile Disney Plus MCU shows, it seems that Perlmutter has been sidelined even more. And Ghost Rider? The going theory is that Feige put the brakes on the show as he’s got plans for him to appear in the ‘real’ MCU. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ike.
All of this means that Marvel Television is increasingly looking like a vestigial limb to Marvel Studios and personally, I suspect its days are numbered.