In less than two decades Marvel went from suffering serious economic problems that put its existence at risk to be one of the great forces of entertainment worldwide. One of the key characters in that transition was Isaac Perlmutter, a senior executive, who assumed command of the company in one of the most turbulent periods of this.
Popularly known as Ike, the manager is a peculiar figure in the entertainment world for his management of corporate resources, the way he dodges the press and also for his ties to the US government. Recently, Perlmutter's name has returned to the media due to the loss of influence it has had inside Marvel in the recent period.
Ike Perlmutter was born in Israel when the country was still the British Mandate of Palestine and his youth was marked by his participation in the Six Day War (1967). From this experience, the entrepreneur developed a great sensitivity for the welfare of war veterans. Shortly after the conflict, Perlmutter emigrated to the United States and there are those who indicate that he did so with just $ 250 and a suitcase.RELATED
Israeli soldiers in action during the Six Day War, which took place in 1967. Avi Arad, his future Perlmutter partner, also participated in the conflict and was wounded in combat. (Photo: AFP) STF | AFP
After settling in New York, the future businessman devoted himself to the sale of toys and beauty items. In that way he acquired empirical knowledge that allowed him to replace his lack of academic training, getting to form his own and profitable businesses.
-THE TOYS AS ACCESS TO MARVEL-
After financial adventures with Revco (beauty) and Coleco (video games), in which he made it clear that he knew how to move very well in the corporate jungle, Perlmutter bought a Canadian toy company in 1990 and turned it into Toy Biz. His big stroke of luck would come in 1993 when Ike and his partner, Avi Arad, reached an unbeatable agreement with Marvel: the comic company acquired half of ToyBiz and the latter was able to produce Marvel character toys.
The latter opened the doors of the Marvel directory to Arad and Perlmutter, who progressively gained power in the firm. When The House of Ideas declared bankruptcy in 1996, Ike took advantage of the restructuring and began to take control of it. By 2005, the Israeli was already executive director of the company and four years later he would be responsible for its sale to Disney for 4,000 million dollars.
Toy Biz Toy, which later became Marvel Toys and disappeared in the middle of the last decade. (Photo: Amazon)
-A LITTLE COMMON PROFILE IN HOLLYWOOD-
Over the years and despite being an important businessman, Isaac Perlmutter has been extremely elusive to the media. The Israeli is known for being extremely jealous of his private life and does not give interviews or let himself be photographed by the press, so the images of the 76-year-old man are usually scarce. The image of the header of this note is one of the few photographs of the businessman.
At this point the obsession of the Marvel executive to stay away from the cameras, which in 2008 attended the premiere of the movie "Iron Man" with fake mustache and dark glasses to not be recognized, according to information from Chicago Tribune.
Another striking feature that is awarded to Perlmutter is his reputation for being excessively stingy. A recent report by Variety pointed out that it is not uncommon to hear old stories of employees looking for metal clips in the garbage cans of Marvel offices in New York, due to the executive's desire to reduce operating costs. When Disney bought the company and it moved to another location, it is said that the executive director of Marvel Entertainment refused to replace old furniture on the grounds that this "could affect corporate culture."
Avi Arad, founder of Marvel Studios, alongside Robert Downey Jr. at the premiere of "Iron Man." Perlmutter attended this event in disguise so as not to be detected. (Photo: AFP) Kevin Winter | Getty Images / AFP
It is not the only anecdote of this kind, as a report that The Hollywood Reporter published in 2014 said that a press event of "Avengers" ran out of food in the middle of its development because the manager wanted to cut expenses. Other stories show that Perlmutter personally reviews his employees' expense reports or that he has complained that in some event they have given journalists two bottles of soda instead of one.
The ideological alignment of Ike Perlmutter has also been very commented over the years. The Marvel Entertainment executive is a convinced conservative and is famous for having introduced drug tests for comic book artists who worked in the firm's comics during the 1990s. In an increasingly progressive entertainment industry, it is rare to find characters with a profile like that of the Israeli.
In fact, Marvel's CEO is a personal friend of Donald Trump, to whom he has donated large amounts of money for campaign expenses and government projects with war veterans. This last interest arose as a result of Perlmutter's participation in the Six Day War, as noted above, and is maintained until now.
It was thus that the Marvel director had great interference in the Department of Veterans Affairs of the United States Government, to the point that he was considered a factual leader within it. As the Washington Post reported, Dave Shulkin, former head of the state entity, called the director of Marvel and other collaborators "a shadow cabinet" within the institution. "In almost every conversation we had, the president asked if Ike I was "happy" or "helping", "Shulkin says in his recently published memoirs. Interestingly, it was Perlmutter who recommended Shulkin with Trump.
Ike Perlmutter with Donald Trump at an event in favor of US war veterans in 2017. (Photo: AFP) BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI | AFP
-THE CIVIL WAR OF MARVEL-
Throughout the last decade, Perlmutter maintained a tense pulse with Kevin Feige, producer considered the architect of the success that has won the Marvel film universe. With the passage of time the positions of both ended up becoming irreconcilable and almost ended with the departure of Feige from the company.
The highlight of the history of disagreements was during the production of "Captain America: Civil War", as Perlmutter strongly opposed the increase in the budget of the film, while Feige insisted on not making cuts. In 2015, Disney made the decision to separate Marvel Studios from Marvel Entertainment and that the newly dislocated subsidiary would become directly dependent on the Mickey Mouse company.
The US press notes that Alan Fine, Perlmutter's right hand, was responsible for several Feige film projects suffering delays. It is also frequently cited that the Israeli opposed concrete projects such as "Black Panther" and "Captain Marvel," which ended up being big blockbusters. Bob Iger, executive director of Disney, tells in his memoirs that he himself had to intervene so that the former toy entrepreneur stopped blocking the development of such feature films.
Kevin Feige is the current creative director of Marvel and his disagreements with Perlmutter almost led him to leave the company. (Photo: Marvel)
The split of the Marvel film arm was considered a victory for Kevin Feige, who ceased to be Perlmutter's subordinate and went on to respond directly to Alan Horn, president of Disney. However, Marvel's television productions and other businesses – including cartoons and television series – remained under Ike's responsibility.
Such an outlook was maintained over the past few years, but the situation took a radical turn in October after Feige was appointed as creative director of all Marvel branches, including those that remained under Isaac Perlmutter's sphere of influence. In simple terms, this means that the latter has virtually lost all influence on the type of content that the company will show from now on, although it will continue to be in charge of the operational work of La casa de ideas.
The movement is more striking if one considers that Perlmutter is one of the most important shareholders of Disney today (thanks to the sale of Marvel), but it is understandable because Feige's vision has made him earn a lot of money to Marvel Beyond those details, it would be a mistake to minimize the weight that the Israeli businessman has had in the growth of the house where Iron Man or Captain America emerged, although it is undeniable that his vision was increasingly in conflict with the successful formula of the company and trends of today's Hollywood.