Victoria Alonso was awestruck at this year’s Oscar Awards. Photographers were tasked with capturing senior executives on Hollywood’s big night, and they stopped the veteran Marvel Studios executive and producer of the nominated film “Argentina, 1985” on the red carpet for a picture op. Something, though, caught her off guard.
To which the other person exclaimed, “Wow! I can’t believe it’s two females! Alonso mentioned this about the professional female photographers they hired for the job (as in most corners of Hollywood, women are outnumbered by men on the photo line).
Alonso became emotional and requested that the two put down their cameras to take a picture with her in front of a life-size replica of the Oscar statue. She addressed them cheerfully, saying, “We’ve worked so hard to get here and we’re not going.”
Three sources familiar with the situation told Variety that eight days later, she was let go from her position as president of the physical production, post-production, visual effects, and animation at Marvel. Many in the entertainment industry and the massive Marvel comic book fandom were caught off guard by the shakeup (a community with a prominent online presence and an in-person significance, at the many multiplexes where the studio releases its films).
While Disney CEO Bob Iger tries to restructure the firm’s parent company amid the economic upheaval, Alonso’s resignation has sparked yet another unpleasant news cycle with its myriad concerns about the inner workings of the treasured content engine.
According to the sources, human resources, Disney’s legal department, and other executives, including Disney Entertainment co-chairman Alan Bergman, came together and decided to fire Alonso for unknown reasons (to whom all of Marvel Studios reports).
One insider noted that Kevin Feige, Alonso’s longtime boss, and Marvel’s chief creative officer, saw himself trapped and ultimately did not intervene. Another insider chimed in that Alonso was caught off guard.
When asked for comment, a spokeswoman for Alonso said no. Studios affiliated with Marvel declined to comment.
Alonso started working at Marvel Studios in 2006, three years before Disney paid $4 billion to acquire the brand. She has served as chief creative officer Kevin Feige’s right hand and co-president Louis D’Esposito for the past 17 years.
At the same time, she pushed to establish herself as a name in her own right, as one of the few out LGBTQ people and women of color in a high-profile leadership position, and as an advocate for greater representation of marginalized groups in Marvel’s canon.
She is due to release a biography on her rise through the ranks of business, titled “Possibility Is Your Superpower,” and has received awards from both media watchdogs and the visual effects community (which is still set for release at the Disney book label Hyperion Avenue). Then, exactly where in the many universes did this shattering break?
Many Marvel insiders cited the enormous pressure the division has been under to provide interesting content over the past three years, both in the form of theatrical releases and brand-new streaming shows designed to support Disney+. Throughout the course of 23 months in 2021 and 2022, Marvel released 17 different comic book experiences (seven movies, eight streaming series, and two TV specials).
Alonso had nothing to do with the rapid pace of distribution that resulted from the pandemic and the necessity to keep Disney+ well-fed. Marvel wasn’t the only production company asked to supply high-quality films for a brand-new streaming service. Nonetheless, Alonso was responsible for seeing that all of those titles made it through Marvel’s massive post-production system. The company’s seemingly impenetrable armor started to show flaws by the summer of 2022.
After initially venting on Reddit, visual effects artists made their displeasure with Marvel’s stringent post-production schedules known in a series of online articles. Constant overtime, insufficient staffing, and shifting deadlines were among the most often cited causes of dissatisfaction. According to these critics, Alonso is a “kingmaker” who will blacklist musicians who have “pissed her off in any manner.”
A visual effects worker recently told Variety that Marvel’s lack of direction was the main problem they were facing.
“The show I was on really struggled because it was an established character whose powers they were reconceiving for the MCU,” the artist said on the condition of anonymity. Most complaints, they said, came down to one refrain: “Marvel doesn’t figure shit out beforehand.”
The thought of a very senior exec intimidating rank-and-file employees, per some accounts, feels a bit wrong, a different senior VFX artist told Variety, dispelling the rumor that Alonso would single out individual artists. Three distinct up-and-coming Marvel actors have spoken publicly about how Alonso played a secondary role on set.
One former Disney film executive said-
“She was the epitome of professional and knows her stuff.”
Although “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” wrapped production more than a year before it was scheduled to hit theaters, it nonetheless received harsh criticism for its “generic” visual effects, which were called “CGI glop” and “extremely flat and cruddy-looking.” Worse, the film has only earned $463 million worldwide so far, making it the “Ant-Man” franchise’s weakest performer and ensuring it would have a hard time turning a profit during its theatrical run.
The studio’s films have earned over $28 billion at the global box office, thus this is the wrong direction for Disney, which has come to rely on the studio as an unstoppable box office cash generator.
According to sources, only three or four of the five Marvel Studios Disney+ shows that were originally set to premiere in 2023 would really do so, with the rest being delayed until at least 2024, if not beyond. That’s a huge relief for Marvel’s post-production system right now. Even without Alonso, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” scheduled for release in May, is very close to finalizing its picture.
Disney waited a while before announcing Alonso’s replacement. She handles a wide variety of responsibilities, so finding someone to replace her could be difficult. Managers get together.