Could the abrupt firing of a top Marvel executive land Disney in court?

Victoria Alonso
Victoria Alonso Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
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DC isn't the only superhero studio plagued by behind-the-scenes drama.

Marvel Studios is also grappling with crises on multiple fronts, as not only is actor Jonathan Majors facing assault charges, but a top producer who was fired is threatening legal action. Disney claims she was ousted over an "indisputable" breach of contract, but she has accused the company of silencing a "gay Latina who had the courage to criticize" them.

A shock ouster

The Hollywood Reporter broke the shock news on March 20 that Marvel executive Victoria Alonso had abruptly exited the company. She's a 17-year veteran of the studio who had been with Marvel going back even before the first Iron Man came out, and she was an executive producer on all of Marvel's films since The Avengers in 2012. In 2021, Alonso was promoted to president of Physical, Post Production, VFX, and Animation.

The reason for her exit wasn't initially clear. But it came after Marvel was facing mounting criticism for the quality of its visual effects in recent releases like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and for alleged turmoil during the post-production process. In February, anonymous visual effects artists told Vulture that Quantumania was "severely understaffed" and that an "unrealistically short" deadline forced them to work long hours and led to shortcuts being taken on the project. After her ouster, Vulture reporter Chris Lee tweeted that "so many" visual effects sources "have told me Victoria Alonso was singularly responsible for Marvel's toxic work environment." However, The Ringer's Joanna Robinson, who has been working on a book about Marvel, tweeted that this a "gross mischaracterization" and the "opposite of what I've heard from every person who has ever worked with her."

But The Hollywood Reporter soon revealed that Alonso was ultimately fired over an alleged breach of her contract. She was a producer on the movie Argentina, 1985, which was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. It was distributed by Amazon, not Disney, so sources told the Reporter that Alonso violated a 2018 agreement in her contract preventing employees from working for competing studios.

The Reporter's sources also alleged that Alonso didn't ask permission to work on Argentina, 1985, and when Disney learned of the project, the company forbade her from promoting it, only for her to do so anyway. She even walked the red carpet of the Oscars as a producer of Argentina, 1985 despite a Marvel movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, also being nominated. Disney co-chair Alan Bergman and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige were both "super annoyed at yet another example of Alonso prioritizing her personal endeavors over the company," Puck reported. The decision to fire her was "made by a consortium including human resources, Disney's legal department and multiple executives including" Bergman, Variety reported, adding that Alonso was "blindsided."

Striking back

But Alonso is hitting back hard against these claims, and Deadline reports she's weighing legal action against Disney and Marvel. She has hired Patty Glaser, an attorney who is suing Disney's Lucasfilm over the firing of a producer from a Star Wars show in an unrelated case.

In a statement to Variety, Glaser insisted that Alonso had Disney's "blessing" to work on Argentina, 1985 and dismissed the "ridiculous" idea that she was fired "over a handful of press interviews" about the film. Further, Glaser claimed that Alonso, "a gay Latina who had the courage to criticize Disney, was silenced." This apparently referred to the fact that Alonso called out then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek's initial inaction over Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill in 2022, publicly urging him to "take a stand against all of these crazy outdated laws." But it's worth noting that Chapek was fired last year and replaced as CEO with Bob Iger, who had already condemned the bill when Alonso made those comments.

Finally, Glaser claimed that Alonso was "terminated when she refused to do something she believed was reprehensible." She didn't elaborate, but Deadline reported that this appears to refer to an unspecified "disagreement with a Disney executive, who is not Iger." Alonso was "told that she could no longer do interviews or media" after her comments on the Don't Say Gay bill last year, Deadline also revealed.

"There is a lot more to this story and Victoria will be telling it shortly — in one forum or another," Glaser warned. In response, Disney told Deadline 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." Alonso is set to publish a memoir (with a Disney imprint) titled Possibility Is Your Superpower in May, so we could potentially hear more from her then.

But between this and the apparent beef between DC stars Dwayne Johnson and Zachary Levi, the juiciest superhero movie drama may no longer be taking place on screen.

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