The wave of sexual abuse allegations has shook the cinema industry to its core, and even Marvel, the biggest studio in town, isn't immune. It's certainly been an astonishing few months, even by Hollywood standards. In the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Harvey Weinstein, many people took to Twitter where the hashtag #MeToo started to go viral. The phrase was populated by social activist Tarana Burke to give sufferers of sexual abuse a voice, and actress Alyssa Milano gave it an even stronger presence when she encouraged anyone who'd ever been a victim of sexual harassment to tweet the hashtag.
In the weeks that have followed, it's felt like a new story has surfaced on an almost daily basis concerning another person using their position, status, money and power to sexually abuse or harass women and men. Many of these allegations remain just that - allegations - but no doubt they've shook the industry to its core. A lot of the revelations have been shocking and saddening, not least the allegations that are surfacing concerning some of Marvel's stars.
Stallone had a small but essential role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Stakar Ogord, a member of the original team. By the end of the movie, he had reunited with his Ravager teammates, setting up possible future adventures; director James Gunn said Stallone's character was very important to the MCU going forward.
Later in 2017, a British tabloid accused Stallone and his former bodyguard of sexually assaulting a fan in 1986. At the time of the alleged incident, the woman was only 16. The newspaper published an alleged 12-page police report about the assault, but added that the woman did not press charges because she felt "humiliated and ashamed." The report supposedly alleges that the girl met Stallone at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel in 1986, when the actor was 40. She claimed the bodyguard gave her keys to a hotel room, where she had sex with both men. Afterwards, Stallone warned her to keep quiet or else they would "have to beat her head in," due to both men being married.
While the girl acknowledged that she was not physically forced into sex, she added that she felt intimidated and, in light of the threat, became very distraught and frightened. Stallone's spokesperson said the story was "categorically false," adding that Stallone had never been contacted by the authorities in connection to such a matter.
A little over a month later, in December 2017, Stallone was accused sexual misconduct relating to an event that took place in the 1990s. The actor says the story is "completely fabricated," while his lawyer said a woman had filed a police report alleging that a rape occurred 27 years ago. At the time of writing, the incident is still under investigation by Santa Monica police, and nothing has yet been presented to the district attorney.
While many of the accused have had stories against them published in the press, Michael Douglas took the unusual step of preemptively denying an allegation before it was made public. Knowing that he was likely to be publicly accused of masturbating in front of a former employee, Douglas took to the press to vehemently deny the accusation, stating that he felt the need to "get ahead of this."
Douglas states the former employee claims that, some 30 years prior, he used 'colorful language' in front of her, spoke dirtily with his friends in front of her, masturbated in front of her, and then prevented her getting another job in the industry. Douglas doesn't refute the allegations of using colorful language or speaking that way with his friends, but he does point out that none of it was directed at her, something the woman also acknowledges. He does, however, very firmly deny that he ever masturbated in front of her, and adds that although he fired her, he never blackballed her or blocker her from getting another job. Douglas adds that he prides himself on being a big supporter of the women's movement, and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, was one of the many people to wear all black to the Golden Globes, to show solidarity with the Me Too and TIMES UP movement.
For Marvel, Douglas is set to reprise his role of Dr. Hank Pym in Ant-Man and The Wasp, set for release this summer. With so many special effects, reshoots with another actor would not be feasible in such a short amount of time, were these allegations to be proven. As it stands right now, the woman concerned has not come forward, and neither has anyone else, so Marvel are not likely to act at all unless something changes dramatically.
T.J. Miller is known primarily for his work on Silicon Valley, but also for playing Ryan Reynold's sidekick, Weasel, in Deadpool; a role he reprises for Deadpool 2, releasing this summer. Back in December, a woman accused Miller of raping and choking her, and punching her in the face, while they were both students at the same college. Miller denied the incident in a joint statement with his wife, but comments to the contrary alleged it had been common knowledge on the comedy circuit for some time. The same week, transgender film critic, Danielle Solzman, published a deeply offensive email she had received from Miller earlier in the year. In it, Miller claimed that "the pursuit of transgender identity is nothing more than an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself as someone who is special," repeatedly referred to her as Daniel, and also hurled a series of insulting and derogatory slurs at her.
Despite this, Miller will keep his role in Deadpool 2. The official line is that the movie's May release date means that it is now in final stages of editing, meaning it can't be reshot with another actor. However, in light of Ridley Scott replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in All The Money in The World, it feels like it would be feasible to do.
It's hard to see this not reflecting badly on Fox, director David Leitch, and even Reynolds. This story is sure to develop as Deadpool 2 moves closer to its May release.
While one can't compare any of these allegations against the other, perhaps the most saddening case is Stan Lee. The 95-year-old is Marvel's true mastermind, and has always been viewed with deep affection by most; his cameos in Marvel movies are legendary, and always eagerly anticipated. Now, though, Lee is accused of sexual misconduct by several employees of a nursing company he used to use. The women accuse him of groping young female nurses, walking around naked, and demanding oral sex from them. Lee has strongly denied the accusations, hinting that the company may be trying to extract money from him.
The sexual assault scandal is one that reaches well beyond Hollywood, but it has particularly serious ramifications for giants like Marvel. With more and more allegations against more and more high profile names emerging, will these women be heard, will their allegations be taken seriously, and will the people concerned be held accountable?
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019