Many superhero fans refer to the past decade as the Golden Age for the genre. Whether you love them or hate them, there appears to be no end in sight to superhero movies. From the first film serial in 1939 to 2018’s Black Panther, superheroes will always have a home on the big screen. Battles between good and evil remain common place in these movies, but tensions behind the scenes tend to be less cut and dry.
Whether it be DC or Marvel, a shared cinematic universe or a solo adventure, problems will always arise in high stress environments that the entertainment industry breeds. A big-budget superhero movie makes or breaks careers for everyone that’s involved. When tensions boil over, it can lead to some shocking behind-the-scenes feuds.
Ironically, sometimes these feuds end up saving the movie. Just as often, these tensions can lead to a complete fiasco. Whether adversity breeds success or failure, it certainly adds to the epic nature of the superhero genre. Needless to say, these stories are just as interesting as the ones that are found in the comics themselves. Regardless of where your allegiance lies, these feuds know no comic divide.
Here are the 20 Behind-The-Scenes Superhero Feuds You Had No Idea About.
20. The Robert Downey Jr. Casting Problem
It’s hard to imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe without Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The decade-long partnership between the actor and the studio resulted in billions of dollars in revenue. Many fans now consider Downey to actually be Tony Stark brought to life.
Way back during the casting for 2008’s Iron Man, many believe Jon Favreau’s desire to cast Downey as Stark would end in failure. At the time, a series of scandals and trips to rehab cast a shadow on Downey’s career and marketability. While the actor was in recovery and had a series of successful indie films, Iron Man would put him in a different league.
19. Christopher Reeve’s Battles On Superman IV
The 1987 film, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, the final nail in the coffin for the Christopher Reeve Superman franchise. The movie holds a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and regularly appears on lists of the worst superhero movies of all time.
Part of this reason comes from a change in ownership to Cannon Films, a company notorious for making films as cheaply as possible. During filming, Reeve and the execs for Cannon Films would constantly butt heads. The favorite topic of these arguments — the budget for the movie.
Reeve wanted a larger budget for both production and post-production. Unfortunately, Cannon Films instructed director Sidney Furie to cut corners everywhere that he could. It definitely shows in the final product.
18. The Quicksilver Fight
Copyright law remains one of those baffling fields that mystifies all but those trained in it. Without getting into the minutiae of it, both Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox held equal claim over the superhero, Quicksilver.
Marvel Studios owns claim to the Avengers and its associated members. 20th Century Fox held it for the X-Men, as well as the term “mutants.” Quicksilver and his sister, the Scarlet Witch, thus fell into a gray area as they both served as members of the Avengers and the X-Men. Needless to say, no one was really happy with that situation.
However, with Disney’s recent buyout of Fox’s movie and TV branches, Marvel Studios has regained all the rights to the characters that they had previously licensed to Fox, bringing the feud over the character to an end.
17. Joss Whedon’s Exit From Marvel
When Marvel announced that Joss Whedon would direct The Avengers, a lot of fans were very excited at the prospect. Whedon delivered a record-breaking, chart-topping film for the studio. Regardless, Marvel remains very involved in the making of the movies for its cinematic universe.
Even after the movie grossed over $1.5 billion film, Marvel still demanded a say in the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon did not want to include any references or Easter eggs to the other films in the MCU, which didn’t make sense with the story he was telling. Marvel responded by threatening to remove the scene of Hawkeye at the farm.
While the sequel still made a killing at the box office, Whedon left Marvel shortly afterwards, claiming the experience left him “beaten down.” Whedon has since jumped to rival studio Warner Bros., as he stepped in to replace Zack Snyder on Justice League.
16. Ike Perlmutter vs. Kevin Feige
The CEO of Marvel Comics, Ike Perlmutter, once held a lot of power in regard to the Marvel Studio films. Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, reportedly chafed under Perlmutter’s thumb. In addition to wanting to pull money from the MCU, Perlmutter also had little interest in diversifying the films.
Notably, Perlmutter believed that a Marvel film should not feature a lead female superhero in a solo movie. All of this led to Feige almost quitting Marvel, until Disney CEO Bob Iger stepped in. Under Disney, Marvel Studios was brought into the fold so that all the film divisions (Lucasfilm and Pixar, included) were under one banner.
Eventually, this move gave Feige the freedom to run the studios quite successfully. Although, it has led to a disconnect between the movies and the TV series, as the TV division still reports to Perlmutter.
15. Val Kilmer’s Behavior on Batman Forever
Batman Forever marks a departure from the darker, moodier Tim Burton Batman movies. With a new lead in Val Kilmer and new director in Joel Schumacher, the films took a turn into the campy nostalgia of the ’60s television show.
Unfortunately, Kilmer holds one of those “difficult to work with” reputations in Hollywood. While he’s never backed down from that reputation, it caused a lot of headaches on the set of Batman Forever.
Schumacher describes Kilmer as “childish and impossible.” Kilmer was also rude to both cast and crew on the set of the film. When Schumacher tried to restore order to the set, Kilmer didn’t speak to him for two weeks. After Batman Forever, Schumacher cast George Clooney as Bruce Wayne in Batman and Robin. We all know how that disaster turned out.
14. Richard Donner’s Superman II Firing
Richard Donner was the director and the creative force behind the 1978 Superman film. Donner made audiences all across the world believe that a man can fly and the film remains a masterpiece of cinema. Unfortunately, Donner constantly fought with Ilya and Alexander Salkind, the producers of the film. The Salkinds wanted a fast and cheap movie — well, movies.
The original plan had Donner filming both Superman and Superman II at the same time. Donner’s desire to do things the right way, complete with a sizable budget and long shooting schedules, clashed with the Salkinds desire for not spending too much money. It came to a head when Donner was fired from Superman II, after the majority of filming was completed.
13. Edward Norton’s Real-Life Hulk Out
Does it really surprise anyone that a Hulk film causes tensions to rise? While execs were nervous about RDJ’s casting, the first true feud of the MCU comes with The Incredible Hulk. Much like Val Kilmer, Edward Norton also has a difficult to work with reputation.
When he got involved with the film, Norton rewrote the script almost daily during filming. While Marvel let him, they cut a lot of his stuff from the final product. Eventually two factions were formed, with Norton and director Louis Leterrier on one side and Marvel on the other.
Needless to say, after the film was less than warmly received, Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo. According to Norton, the feud is in the past, saying, “I continue to be a fan and I’m really, really happy I got to do it once.”
12. The Writing Credits Of Thor: Ragnarok
Ask any writer and they’ll tell you, sometimes the work doesn’t pay. This one isn’t even Marvel’s fault. As eagle-eyed fans know, a lot of work goes into writing a Marvel script. This includes multiple revisions from different writing teams.
Writer Stephany Folsom was brought on to help with Thor: Ragnarok. For her work, Marvel planned to give her a “story by” credit, which she would share with Ragnarok screenwriter Eric Pearson and other members of the team, including Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.
Unfortunately, The Writer’s Guild of America denied Folsom’s “story by” credit, which prevents her from receiving residuals and bonuses for her work. Folsom then took to Twitter to voice her concerns, saying “There’s something very wrong when a major corporation is doing more to protect your interests than your own guild.”
11. The Deadpool 2 Feud
No one, especially 20th Century Fox, expected 2016’s Deadpool to be such a huge success with both critics and audiences alike. The movie was only officially greenlit when test footage was leaked onto the Internet and it received overwhelmingly positive feedback
Needless to say, the resulting movie broke box office records and the creative team was brought on for the sequel. However, director Tim Miller left soon after. Apparently, things behind the scenes were not going so smoothly.
Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller fought over the tone of the sequel. While Reynolds, along with writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, wanted to keep Deadpool 2 true to its roots, Miller hoped for a more “stylish take”. In addition to this, Reynolds and Miller fought over who would play Cable. Ultimately, Reynolds won and Miller exited the project.
10. Edgar Wright’s Marvel Exit
This one still breaks a lot of fans’ hearts. Back when the MCU was more of a concept than an actual franchise, the studio attached Edgar Wright to direct an Ant-Man movie. Many of Wright’s fans were excited to see his distinctive style paired with a superhero movie.
After eight years of development and the rapid growth of the franchise, Wright’s vision for the character fell out of favor with the Marvel brass. Ultimately, it came down to creative differences.
Wright then exited the project, much to fans dismay. While 2015’s Ant-Man was solidly received, Wright blew past it with 2017’s acclaimed film, Baby Driver. As for his split with Marvel, Wright had this to say, “I think the most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie.”
9. Viola Davis Is Fed Up With Jared Leto
The press has well-documented the instances of Jared Leto’s “method acting” while on the set of Suicide Squad. During filming, Leto sent his cast members things like rats, dead pigs, and other weird items in order to get in character as the Joker. At least, that’s what he said.
Needless to say, Viola Davis did not appreciate Leto’s on-set behavior, which included sending her a box of bullets. Davis made her displeasure known in an interview with E! News. She said, “Before that I was only introduced to The Joker…and I almost had my pepper spray out.”
8. Wonder Woman Screenwriter Showdown
Wonder Woman remains one of the best superhero films to have come out this year. It doesn’t mean, however, that the road to the film was an easy one. In fact, potential screenwriters for the film had to compete with each other.
Warner Bros., hoping to nail down the tone, hired five different screenwriters to work on treatments for the film and to write the first act. This quasi-Hunger Games situation did not sit well with the writers, as nobody knew whose script the studio would choose.
One screenwriter, Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Gray), quit the project because of the selection process. Eventually, Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns combined two scripts into the shooting script. If you thought the Thor: Ragnarok credits were headache inducing, then imagine the WGA handling this mess.
7. The Flash’s Revolving Directors
The recent slate of DC Films revolving around the shared universe have had…issues. The franchise has been surrounded with drama with fans, drama with critics, and even drama within Warner Bros., but no film has had quite the amount of issues as The Flash.
The film, which will star Ezra Miller, was supposed to be released in 2018. That, however, is clearly not happening. In part, it’s because Warner Bros. keeps having “creative differences” with the director that they hire.
Seth Grahame-Smith, writer of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, was the first director and screenwriter attached to the project. When he left the project, Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) took over, but he also left. Warner Bro. has since renamed the film to Flashpoint and Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Spiderman: Homecoming) have became the directors for the project. Let’s hope that the third time’s the charm.
6. The Henry Cavill Mustache Feud
This is definitely one of the silliest feuds, but it’s also one of the most entertaining. When reshoots for Justice League were underway, Superman actor Henry Cavill sported some facial hair for his next role in Mission: Impossible 6.
Warner Bros. thus wanted Cavill to shave for these reshoots. Paramount Pictures, however, had a contractual obligation for Cavill to have facial hair for their film. It led to a stand-off between the two studios over the actors mustache. Ultimately, Paramount won and Cavill had to reshot the Justice League scenes with his facial hair.
Warner Bros. then had to digitally remove Cavill’s mustache in post-production. Unfortunately, it was still pretty noticeable in the movie. Additionally, the press and Twitter made many jokes to make.
5. Warner Bros. Executive DC Dance
Behind the scenes drama on the recent DC Films continues to be an isse. This time, the executives take center stage. Over the past couple of years, Warner Bros. have put many different people in charge.
In the beginning, Zach Snyder was in charge of shaping the shared DC universe. After some less than well-received movies, Warner Bros. placed Jon Berg in charge of the films with DC Films co-chairman, Geoff Johns. The pair then attempted to shift the tone of the films from grim to being more fun.
After Thor: Ragnarok outperformed Justice League, Berg moved to Vertigo, a production shingle under Roy Lee. Johns, for now, remains with Warner Bros. and DC Films. Recently, Warner Bros. promoted Walter Hamada, an executive responsible for The Conjuring franchise, to head of DC Films to work alongside Johns.
4. The Fant4stic Fiasco
While the Fantastic Four remain a beloved comics team, none of the movies based on the group have done very well. Recently, the highly publicized disaster of 2015’s Fantastic Four has probably put the kibosh on any film based on the Four for a while.
Commercially disastrous and critically panned, the film currently holds a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. The blame, according to director Josh Trank, firmly rests with 20th Century Fox. Trank tweeted a rather cryptic (long since deleted) tweet that read, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.”
In addition to Fantastic Four, Trank planned to do a Star Wars spin-off, but then dropped out. Some have said it was due to his erratic behavior on the set of Fantastic Four, but Trank said he wanted to return to his indie roots.
3. Michelle MacLaren’s Less-Than-Wondrous Exit
Outside of the Wonder Woman writer fiasco, the production also ran into director issues. While not on the level of The Flash or Gambit, Wonder Woman also went through a director change. Michelle MacLaren, known for her television directing work, joined the film in 2014.
In April 2015, MacLaren parted ways with Warner Bros. due to that catch-all phrase “creative differences”. MacLaren’s vision was of a sweeping war epic a la Braveheart, which clashed with Warner Bros. desire for a character-driven piece. In addition, the studio also worried about giving the reigns of a big-budget film to someone who had only worked in television.
MacLaren was no stranger to big-budget projects, having worked on shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. Despite her leaving the movie, MacLaren still works steadily in television, doing work on Westworld and The Deuce. Warner Bros. then picked Patty Jenkins as her replacement and the rest is history.
2. Brett Ratner Outing Ellen Page
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein fallout, some very disturbing allegations came to light in regard to Brett Ratner. Ratner had directed X-Men: The Last Stand and his production company helped work on Wonder Woman. Ellen Page has accused Ratner of forcibly outing her on the set of The Last Stand.
According to Page’s Facebook, Ratner made a comment to an older woman regarding Page’s orientation. Page continued, “Ratner’s comment replayed in my mind many times over the years as I encountered homophobia and coped with feelings of reluctance and uncertainty about the industry and my future in it.”
In addition to this, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot demanded that Ratner have nothing to do or be associated with Wonder Woman 2. She reportedly threatened to leave the film over this. Warner Bros. has since cut ties with Ratner. Hopefully, this is the last we hear of him.
1. Patty Jenkins Ousted From Thor: The Dark World
The folks at Marvel probably kick themselves daily after how much success Wonder Woman enjoyed at the box office. Patty Jenkins had originally signed on to direct Thor: The Dark World. This would have made her the first female director in the MCU and the first woman to direct a big-budget superhero film.
According to Jenkins, she left for two reasons. During this time, she felt that Marvel had too much control over its directors. She also did not like the script that she had to work with.
In an interview with Collider in 2017, she said she wanted to make “a Romeo and Juliet space opera.” Thor: The Dark World obviously wasn’t that. Jenkins left, and the project went to another director. Thankfully, Jenkins has now found redemption in Wonder Woman, a nice payoff for the director sticking to her guns.
Did we miss any other behind the scenes superhero feuds? Let us know in the comments!
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