Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter isn’t that much of a household name, but the man has had a massive impact on popular culture over the last 30 years. That’s because he co-owned Marvel in the ’90s and eventually sold it to Disney, where he helped kicked off the Marvel film franchise and turned it into the dominant cultural and cinematic force it is today. However, Ike Perlmutter also almost killed it, and now, after being shoved to the side by Kevin Feige, he has finally been removed from touching anything Marvel as Disney has fired him. It comes amid 7,000 layoffs at Disney aimed at cutting $5.5 billion in costs.
Perlmutter does deserve some credit for making the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was in charge of Marvel during its early years and, admittedly, had some of the vision to create what would eventually become the only way to make money in a movie theater anymore. However, Perlmutter was notoriously stingy, and as Kevin Feige, now the head of Marvel Studios, began making more and more successful films, he saw his power receding. Still, in charge of the TV side of things, Perlmutter went on to make a series of disastrous decisions, restrict budgets, and eventually pushed through Inhumans, a show so bad that you didn’t even feel bad when its main character’s head exploded in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Feige and Perlmutter basically had two different views of the MCU: Feige wanted it to be good, and Perlmutter wanted it to be cheap. His influence probably would have destroyed Marvel well before the Infinity Saga was ever completed.
Eventually, this all came to a head as Perlmutter and Feige argued hard over Doctor Strange. Perlmutter, still in control of everything Marvel, wanted to fire Feige, the man who had basically constructed the most profitable film universe ever. If he had succeeded we’d be in a much different place right now, most likely with lots of In the Frames about how the MCU imploded on itself once Feige was gone. Instead, Disney CEO Bob Iger stepped in, took one look at the situation, and put Feige in charge of Marvel Studios, giving him complete control over the film side of Marvel’s efforts and taking it outside the purview of Perlmutter. Perlmutter still oversaw Marvel Entertainment, which controlled the comics and merchandising side of Marvel and at the time still controlled Marvel’s TV efforts.
Then in 2019, as Marvel’s TV efforts crashed and burned in fiery disasters — like the aforementioned Inhumans, Iron Fist, and the underrated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — Marvel Television was ripped away from Perlmutter (and, later, Jeph Loeb) as well, leaving him with just the comics, merchandise, and some arena show things. That’s still a lot to control, but clearly, Disney didn’t want Ike Perlmutter around much anymore and now it’s finally fired him, especially as he tried to support a revolt of board members against Iger. Dan Buckley, president of Marvel Entertainment, will stay in place and now report solely to Feige, pretty much putting Feige in charge of everything.
Usually, I’d argue it’s never good when someone loses their job, but Perlmutter is a billionaire. So, in this case, we can all celebrate that his penny-pinching and complete lack of understanding about what makes good entertainment are completely gone from Marvel.