According to Mark Ruffalo, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige nearly left his post over a firm stance he took with some higher-ups at Disney nearly a decade ago. Feige is said to have argued that superhero movies with female leads could be profitable, while Disney's largest shareholder reportedly disagreed.
Whether or not Feige's ousting would've been voluntary or forced isn't clear from Ruffalo's anecdote, which was given in a long interview with The Independent, and which arose when the interviewer mentioned criticism that has been aimed at Marvel for a perceived lack of representation.
Ruffalo said that Feige voicing his opinion to said higher-ups occurred when they were filming the original Avengers film that came out in 2012.
At the time, Feige told Ruffalo that he was going to attempt to convince his superiors at Disney to put out a female-driven superhero movie. He wasn't sure if that company's biggest investor, Ike Perlmutter, could be persuaded. And Feige further told Ruffalo that if he was back on set the next day then it would signify that he ended up winning his argument.
“When we did the first Avengers, Kevin Feige told me, ‘Listen, I might not be here tomorrow,'" Ruffalo recalled. “And he’s like, ‘Ike [Isaac Perlmutter, Disney’s largest shareholder at the time] does not believe that anyone will go to a female-starring superhero movie. So if I am still here tomorrow, you will know that I won that battle.’”
Ruffalo further claims that this was a turning point for Marvel, as it began an ambitious phase to expand its on-screen universe.
“Because Kevin wanted black superheroes, women superheroes, LGBT superheroes, he changed the whole Marvel universe," Ruffalo said. "We now have a gay superhero on the way, we have black superheroes, we have female superheroes – Scarlett Johansson has her movie coming out, we have Captain Marvel, they are doing She-Hulk next. No other studio is being that inclusive on that level. They have to, though. This is the fucking world.”