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Mark Ruffalo Says Marvel’s Kevin Feige Put His Job on the Line for the Representation We’re Getting

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(Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

When it comes to the topic of representation in films, it’s hard to cover, especially in the superhero genre. Kevin Feige, who is the president of Marvel Studios, has often been the brunt of frustrations when it comes to seeing representation on screen. I myself have blamed him when it seemingly took the DCEU two movies before getting a standalone Wonder Woman, while it took Marvel over a decade to get to Captain Marvel—not to mention their lag in other areas of representation.

But, it seems, Kevin Feige has been the one pushing for more diversity, against what Marvel shareholders want, and he isn’t doing it for clout, either. During an interview with The Independent, it was Bruce Banner himself who revealed that Feige has been pushing, since the time of The Avengers, for more diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Mark Ruffalo was asked about the lack of LGTBQ+ representation in Marvel films and defended Feige against those who criticized him specifically. So, it wasn’t even Feige who released the story. Feige did, however, confirm that it was Disney shareholder Ike Perlmutter who was hesitant to diversify the MCU. (Perlmutter famously supports Donald Trump, so … lol.) Ruffalo said,

“When we did the first Avengers, Kevin Feige told me, ‘Listen, I might not be here tomorrow. 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 went on to make the point that what’s coming up for Marvel is revolutionary. I don’t think he’s entirely right in acting like DC movies and TV haven’t also been making strides, but Marvel is making welcome changes and has continued to do so since Perlmutter left.

“Because Kevin wanted black superheroes, women superheroes, LGBT superheroes. He changed the whole Marvel universe. 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.”

Part of me is emotional about this because Kevin Feige is one of the few movie industry executives I’ve seen who cares about the stories they’re telling. Feige isn’t only about using the big characters or making sure that everything is centered around whatever the male audience will like. He’s there for the story, for these characters we’ve come to love throughout the years no matter how small they are. He’s one of the few people who I truly believe understands the world of Marvel and these characters.

Perlmutter left his position of CEO of Marvel Entertainment in 2015. If you look at what films came almost immediately afterward, they start to show this diverse vision that Feige seemingly was fighting for. I like to think of it as “the evil is defeated, now we have free rein” if you will.

What this has done, for me at least, is given me a new appreciation for Kevin Feige. I remember being angry, cursing Feige and his diversity talk while never seeing it onscreen, but knowing that Feige fought against Ike Perlmutter and was willing to put himself on the line for the characters he wanted to see? That I respect immensely.

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Rachel is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, and wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. At least she gets to live in New York City though!