‘Avengers’ Star Mark Ruffalo Reveals Why Kevin Feige Almost Left Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has come a long way over the past 11 years. Countless people have been instrumental in bringing the world of Marvel Comics to life in such epic fashion. However, the man to whom the MCU’s success is most often attributed is Kevin Feige.

The Marvel Studios head was shaping the big-screen adventures of Spider-Man and the X-Men long before the MCU started. As one of the few constants throughout virtually every Marvel release, Feige has emerged as the company’s most recognizable executive and spokesman.

Incredibly, we’ve now learned he almost left the company just as the MCU was truly heating up.

Kevin Feige and Mark Ruffalo
Kevin Feige and Mark Ruffalo | Danny Martindale/Getty Images

Mark Ruffalo was the last Avenger to join the MCU

Let’s set the scene. During what would later become known as Phase 1, the MCU was still finding its footing. The Iron Man post-credits scene teased a potential Avengers film, but nothing was set in stone just yet. Then, The Avengers was officially announced, with Mark Ruffalo joining the cast.

The actor replaced Edward Norton as Bruce Banner aka the Hulk for Marvel Studios’ big swing. Now Ruffalo has become so synonymous with the role it’s difficult to picture anyone else playing Banner. Of course, the lackluster reputation of The Incredible Hulk is part of that too.

Ruffalo might have been the last member of the original Avengers line-up to join the team. But the actor has become a staunch advocate for the MCU and its progressive politics. Ruffalo is an activist for a variety of causes. So it feels fitting he is the one to reveal Feige’s near-break from Marvel Studios.

Kevin Feige fought for big-screen diversity

In a recent interview with The Independent, Ruffalo recounts the tension hanging over The Avengers. Apparently, Feige almost walked away from Marvel because of his stance on a very specific issue.

“When we did the first Avengers, Kevin Feige told me, ‘Listen, I might not be here tomorrow,'” Ruffalo said. “And he’s like, ‘Ike [Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment] does not believe that anyone will go to a female-starring super movie. So if I am still here tomorrow, you will know that I won that battle.'”

As we know, the MCU has expanded a great deal. Some fans have long decried the lack of women and people of color in the films. According to Ruffalo, Feige has been fighting for more representation long before his efforts ever bore substantial fruit.

“That was the turning point for Marvel,” Ruffalo told The Independent. “Because Kevin wanted black superheroes, women superheroes, LGBT superheroes. He changed the whole Marvel universe.”

Marvel Studio has grown better, more inclusive

Feige threatened to leave Marvel Studios back in 2011 during The Avengers‘ filming. Of course, the MCU didn’t receive its first black and female leads until 2018’s Black Panther and 2019’s Captain Marvel, respectively. Each of those films went on to earn well over $1 billion, opening up the door for way more diversity.

“We now have gay superheroes, we have black superheroes, we have female superheroes,” Ruffalo told The Independent. “Scarlett Johansson has her movie coming out. We have Captain Marvel. They are doing She-Hulk next. No other studio is being that forwardly inclusive on that level.”

Johansson’s Black Widow kicks off MCU’s Phase Four in May 2020. But Ruffalo didn’t even mention the ethnically diverse cast of The Eternals, the almost entirely Asian cast of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and the promised LGBT representation of Thor: Love and Thunder. It’s a brand new day at Marvel Studios, and it sounds like it all started with Feige.