Disney’s CEO Reveals How Black Panther and Captain Marvel Came to Be

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe know of some of the history of Marvel Studios and how certain characters were roadblocked by those in control of Marvel Entertainment.

Marvel Studios wished to do a Black Widow movie as early as Phase 1, after Iron Man 2, but there was a belief that female heroes wouldn’t sell toys. At SDCC 2018, the Marvel Visual Development team revealed some early work on a version of Black Panther as far back as 2011, but it’d be seven years before that movie would become a reality.

Most know what happened back in 2015 when Disney CEO Bob Iger placed Kevin Feige directly in charge of the studio so he would report directly to Disney and no longer have to go through Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter. But there’s more to the story than that.

This week Bob Iger released his book, The Ride of a Lifetime, where he talks about his life prior to Disney and all of the things he’s done at the company up through the release of Avengers: Endgame. He dedicates an entire chapter to Marvel where he talks about the purchase of the company in 2009 for $4 billion, and then gets very candid about the problems Kevin Feige faced with Marvel in New York led by Ike Perlmutter and what led him to separating them in 2015.

Iger talks about calls he was on with Feige and Marvel in New York long before then when he was pushing for more diverse heroes, and he was told by one unnamed person that, “Female superheroes never drive big box office.” Of course Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman proved that wrong.

But how did Black Panther and Captain Marvel happen if they were revealed back in 2014 at the Phase 3 event and Feige was still reporting to Perlmutter? Iger fills in that puzzle piece in his book.

He talks about how Feige brought up Black Panther when they cast Chadwick Boseman in Captain America: Civil War, and then he read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther comic:

I called Ike and told him to tell his team to stop putting up roadblocks and ordered that we put both Black Panther and Captain Marvel into production.

Iger, Robert. The Ride of a Lifetime (p. 170). Random House Publishing Group.

Of course the rest is history. Kevin Feige officially revealed both movies at the big Phase 3 event, and not long after that in 2015 he would no longer have to report to Ike Perlmutter. But it was Bob Iger who made it happen and finally broke down the roadblocks that had held back Marvel Studios for its first few years.

The Ride of a Lifetime is a fascinating read directly from the man many consider to be the best leader the Walt Disney Company has had since Walt himself. It’s available now and you can pick up a copy on Amazon.