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Marvel and former visual effects president Victoria Alonso are having a very public argument over her firing

Was Marvel's desire to censor a Pride display the reason for Alonso's dismissal?

Alonso Ant-Man
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios is known for traditionally liking to make sure that it’s in complete control of the conversation surrounding the Marvel brand, to the point where it’s become a running gag that actors will joke about Marvel monitoring their every word about future plans. Following the surprise departure of former president of physical and post-production visual effects Victoria Alonso, however, that discipline has started to fall apart a little, with the story devolving into a particularly messy 'he said, she said' argument in public — and one that doesn’t paint the House of Ideas in the best light.

What Marvel & Disney are apparently saying

In the days since Alonso leaving the company was first reported, it’s become very clear that there’s a significant difference of opinion over the why of it all. An early Variety report not only confirmed that she had been fired by Marvel, but that the decision was one taken seriously by the company: “the decision was made by a consortium including human resources, Disney’s legal department and multiple executives including Disney Entertainment co-chairman Alan Bergman (to whom all of Marvel Studios reports),” the story explains. (Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige “ultimately, did not intervene,” Variety goes on to note.)

According to this version of events, it was unclear why Alonso had been released from the company, but The Hollywood Reporter had more details just days later, with Marvel sources telling the site very clearly that Alonso’s position as producer of indie movie Argentina 1985 had meant that she had breached her contract with Marvel, which specifically stated that she could not work with any rival studio while employed by Marvel. The anonymous source for the piece said that Alonso “did not ask permission to work on Argentina, 1985, nor did she give notice.”

What Victoria Alonso and her attorney are saying

That’s a suggestion vehemently opposed by Alonso and her legal counsel; attorney Patty Glaser very quickly put out a statement in response to the THR story and it’s implications, Glaser said, “The idea that Victoria was fired over a handful of press interviews relating to a personal passion project about human rights and democracy that was nominated for an Oscar and which she got Disney’s blessing to work on is absolutely ridiculous.”

So… what was the reason Alonso was fired? Glaser’s statement continued with what amounts to one hell of a tease: “Victoria, a gay Latina who had the courage to criticize Disney, was silenced. Then she was terminated when she refused to do something she believed was reprehensible. Disney and Marvel made a really poor decision that will have serious consequences. There is a lot more to this story and Victoria will be telling it shortly—in one forum or another.”

Disney/Marvel and Alonso make their disagreement public

Disney isn’t shifting from its version of events, though, releasing its own statement in response to Glaser’s statement, which was in response to a Disney-sourced story: “It’s unfortunate that Victoria is sharing a narrative that leaves out several key factors concerning her departure, including an indisputable breach of contract and a direct violation of company policy,” it started somewhat petulantly. “We will continue to wish her the best for the future and thank her for her numerous contributions to the studio.”

So, what is actually happening here? On the one hand, Disney and Marvel are clearly positioning Alonso as being at fault for breaching her contract — although, if Alonso is to be believed, that wasn’t the case. It’s worth noting that a February 2023 piece promoting the movie specifically notes, “Producer Axel Kuschevatzky persuaded Alonso to get permission from Disney and Marvel to help him to produce Argentina 1985,” which feels important in this context.

On the other hand, there’s the suggestion that Disney and Marvel asked Alonso to do something “reprehensible,” and her refusal to do so led to her removal. Although neither Alonso nor her attorney have defined what the reprehensible act was, a Hollywood Reporter story might have identified it, with Disney insiders revealing that Alonso and her team had been asked to censor a storefront featuring rainbow flags and the word “Pride” in Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania for its Kuwait release, only to refuse. Marvel then went to an outside vendor to make the changes.

Notably, neither Marvel nor Alonso would comment on the matter when contacted by THR. That’s far from confirmation, of course, but given both sides’ willingness to reject and comment upon other rumors, the silence here feels somewhat significant, as does the fact that Alonso — who is herself gay — would likely find Marvel’s willingness to censor queer-supporting background materials in a scene to appease censors something that is, to use the words, “reprehensible”… especially when the studio was so eager to do it that it went outside of its regular workflow to ensure it happen.

The most clear thing of the whole story is that Disney/Marvel and Alonso are very publicly at war… which is something that the traditionally disciplined, on-message Marvel machine almost never engages in. The last time Marvel was on the defensive like this was five years ago when James Gunn was fired for old tweets. In that case, Marvel and Disney eventually backed down and rehired Gunn — could the same fate await Alonso?

Go back and revisit the first reports of Alonso’s departure.