Does The Amazing Spider-Man 2 producer Avi Arad deserve credit for kick starting the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it today? That's what he thinks, outraged over a recent Bloomberg Business Week article that gives current Marvel president and producer Kevin Feige most of the credit.
Back in 2005, Marvel felt their titles were being mishandled by the various studios that held the rights. The company set out to reclaim these iconic properties, so that they could start their own movie studio and solidify a presence in Hollywood. This required funding, so they struck a deal with Merril Lynch for $525 million, using 10 Marvel characters as collateral: Captain America, The Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack, and Shang-Chi. Paramount was also included in the deal, with Marvel picking up 5% of the gross as a producer's fee with the studio recouping their distribution costs and its fees, with the rest then going to Marvel.
For the first time, Marvel Studios had complete creative control over their movies. They quickly went to work carefully constructing Iron Man for the launch of what is now known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To do so, they had to get the rights to Tony Stark and his universe back from New Line. Without Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic wouldn't exist as we know it. But the question remains: Who set things in motion?
Last month, Devin Leonard wrote an article for Business Week titled "The Pow! Bang! Bam! Plan to Save Marvel, Starring B-List Heroes." In this article, Avi Arad is said to have had doubts about Marvel's strategy and resigned within the year, with most of the credit going to Kevin Feige, the current President of Marvel Studios. Avi Arad, who held corporate positions as Chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel and a Marvel director, took exception to this passage:
Finally, Marvel decided to create its own studio. In 2005 it put up as collateral the film rights to characters it still controlled, such as Captain America and Nick Fury, and got $525 million in financing from Merrill Lynch. Arad, who had doubts about the strategy, resigned the following year. Feige was named studio chief in 2007. He was 33 years old, and he was in charge of Hollywood's first major independent movie studio since DreamWorks.
Avi Arad has sent out a letter about this, addressing the issue and hoping to set the record straight. He wants some of the credit for helping to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and wants people to know how it went down. Check out his statement, as sent to Latino Review with full consent to post and distribute across the internet.
Good morning Devin. As usual you manage to disappoint me with your false statements. I am sure you were told by Marvel that I resigned over the self-financing strategy. It is about time for a reporter like you to do your homework and check the facts.
It will sound arrogant to you, but I single handedly put together the Marvel slate. Read it carefully and you will notice the natural progression of the character's design to get to where we are today. You should reach out to Merill Lynch and Ambac Insurance and to our international partners that came on board based on my track record. Our financial partners counted on my reputation. I had to work very hard to convert the doubters. They trusted me and without Iron Man this article would have not been written. Iron Man was not even in the original slate.
I knew that we needed it so I set out to get it back from New Line and the rest is history. Our financing would have never happened without me reaching out to Brad Grey to make a distribution deal that will give you a corporate guarantee. Other people in Marvel worked for many months with Universal and could not reach a deal. I got tired of waiting and went to Brad. The deal was done in days, successful for both companies.
The big presentation to financial institutions and insurance companies took place on the Paramount lot. I was the presenter and it worked. Does this sound to you like someone who disagreed with the strategy to make our own movies? I have forgiven Kevin Feige for following orders and taking the credit, but he had no choice. Shame on you for kowtowing to your business gods. I have given up on journalistic integrity. You called me to talk about Kevin Feige and I gave you the most true and glowing account on someone that I love and respect. Share your notes otherwise you just wasted my time. I will share this letter with other papers and your management to demonstrate the unprofessional self-serving work this reporter demonstrated. - Avi Arad
What do you think about this? Should credit be given where credit is due? Or is there more to the story yet to come?