The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made major strides when it comes to diversity (Black Panther, Captain Marvel, the upcoming Black Widow), but that wasn’t always the case. It did 20 movies before a female superhero was in the title, after all. But according to Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce “The Hulk” Banner in the MCU, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige threatened to quit his job to fight for female-led superhero movies, back when The Powers That Be (stockholders) thought that they couldn’t be profitable. Those old ghouls probably still think that, but a billion dollars is a billion dollars.
“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 told the Independent. This would have been around 2012, when The Avengers came out — it would be another five years before Marvel hired its first non-white director, and seven years before its first female director. Also, it may not surprise you that when you Google “Isaac Perlmutter,” the first suggestion is “Isaac Perlmutter Trump” (he’s among the president’s top donors).
Ruffalo continued, “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… This is the f*cking world.” On top of the projects Ruffalo listed, there’s also Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, with its “98 percent Asian cast,” Black Panther 2, and The Eternals, which will feature the MCU’s first openly gay superhero. Women can be Hulks, too!