Disney criticizes Peltz remarks about casing of ‘Black Panther,’ ‘The Marvels’ – Reuters

Walt Disney Co on Friday said that remarks by activist investor Nelson Peltz criticizing the company for making movies dominated by female and Black actors is evidence that he shouldn’t be on Disney’s board.

Peltz, whose fight to join Disney as a director has become one of the year’s most bitter and closely watched board battles, in an interview with the Financial Times said Disney’s films have become too focused on delivering a message, and not enough on quality storytelling. He specifically took issue with “The Marvels” and “Black Panther.”

Peltz is right about this, whether Disney wants to admit it or not. “The Marvels” was absolutely hampered by making it a virtually all-woman affair. Just changing the antagonist to Jude Law, who co-starred in “Captain Marvel” could have resulted in a much stronger, dare I say even great, film. As was, it was clearly a superhero film made by women for women. That’s alright if that’s what you want to do, but it also shouldn’t have surprised anyone that most guys thought the movie wasn’t for them. 

The critique of “Black Panther” presumably refers to the second Black Panther movie, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The first Black Panther movie, which starred a predominantly black cast, was very good. Notably, it spoke to the African-American experience in a way that did not feel forced or inorganic. These efforts can go sideways easily, but this one didn’t and the result was a picture that did over $1billion at the box office. 

“Wakanda,” on the other hand, was a hot mess that felt forced. It suffered mightily from the death of actor Chadwick Boseman, and perhaps the film’s inability to transcend that loss is its defining feature. Almost everything that felt genuine in the first movie was reversed. This is a fault of the screenwriting rather than “an all-Black cast.” That said, a lot of screen time was dedicated to weak actors who happen to be black, but that’s an issue of talent not race. Most of the cast was good as they were the first time around, which is to say excellent. 

“Why do I have to have a Marvel that’s all women? Not that I have anything against women, but why do I have to do that?” Peltz said in the interview, published on Friday. “Why can’t I have Marvels that are both? Why do I need an all-Black cast?”

Asked about Peltz’s remarks, a Disney spokesperson responded: “This is exactly why Nelson Peltz shouldn’t be anywhere near a creatively driven company.”

Or this is exactly why “The Marvels” actually lost money, a first for a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney may not like Peltz or his critique, but he’s not wholly wrong either.