Avi Arad is not a man to mince words. When the man doesn't like you, he lets you know, and when he just plain disagrees with you, he is more than happy to publish a letter saying that, just to publicly let you know how much you've disappointed him.
When Businessweek's Devin Leonard wrote an article on Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios president and reigning comic-book adaptation king, he may not have expected to draw the ire of an entirely different legendary Marvel production figure. That, though, is very much what he has done.
In the article, Leonard credits Arad, Chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios throughout much of its early existence, with having opposed the $525 million financing deal with Merrill Lynch which ultimately led to the Marvel Cinematic Universe we now know. The credit for the MCU, he suggests, belongs to the leadership of Feige from 2007 on, and very much not to Arad.
Arad, however, sees it differently, and in an email sent in response (and willingly shared online at dailymars.net), he made his feelings very clear:
Good morning Devin. As usual you manage to disappoint me with your false statements. I am sure you were told by Marvel that I resigned over the self-financing strategy. It is about time for a reporter like you to do your homework and check the facts. It will sound arrogant to you, but I single-handedly put together the Marvel slate. Read it carefully and you will notice the natural progression of the character’s design to get to where we are today. You should reach out to Merill Lynch and Ambac Insurance and to our international partners that came on board based on my track record. Our financial partners counted on my reputation. I had to work very hard to convert the doubters. They trusted me and without Iron Man this article would have not been written. Iron Man was not even in the original slate. I knew that we needed it so I set out to get it back from Newline and the rest is history. Our financing would have never happened without me reaching out to Brad Grey to make a distribution deal that will give you a corporate guarantee. Other people in Marvel worked for many months with Universal and could not reach a deal. I got tired of waiting and went to Brad. The deal was done in days, successful for both companies. The big presentation to financial institutions and insurance companies took place on the Paramount lot. I was the presenter and it worked. Does this sound to you like someone who disagreed with the strategy to make our own movies? I have forgiven Kevin for following orders and taking the credit, but he had no choice. Shame on you for kowtowing to your business gods. I have given up on journalistic integrity. You called me to talk about Kevin and I gave you the most true and glowing account on someone that I love and respect. Share your notes otherwise you just wasted my time. I will share this letter with other papers and your management to demonstrate the unprofessional self-serving work this reporter demonstrated.
The most interesting part - aside from the fact that none of us should ever get the wrong side of Avi Arad?
The big presentation to financial institutions and insurance companies took place on the Paramount lot. I was the presenter and it worked. Does this sound to you like someone who disagreed with the strategy to make our own movies? I have forgiven Kevin for following orders and taking the credit, but he had no choice.
In Arad's telling, the entire success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rests on his successful negotiations in 2005 - and not on Feige's subsequent successful tenure in charge.
It's an interesting argument - whatever else that can be said about Arad, he has keen commercial sense, and his account of his activity could well yet be verified by other parties. If it is, it asks a big question - is whoever established the grounding for the MCU responsible for its subsequent success, or whoever ran it during that later period of time? Arad or Feige - who is the MCU's ultimate master?