Sometimes it pays to do a bit of research before going on an editorial rant. Progressive journal, Salon had an absolute fit about Marvel’s CEO Ike Perlmutter and his wife Laura giving money to Donald Trump’s veterans’ fundraiser. Regular readers of this site know I am not a fan of Mr. Trump and felt that his boycott of the Fox debate was nothing more than a childish tantrum made to avoid the possibility of screwing up and hurting his lead in Iowa.
Now because of the donation to veterans, Salon’s hatred of Trump and anything conservative, has transferred to Ike Perlmutter, who still runs most of Marvel (a company I worked for in 2003). According to the progressive Salon, Ike Perlmutter must have a “Trump agenda.” Nothing can be further from the truth.
How should progressives respond to the recent news that Marvel Comics CEO Ike Perlmutter donated over $1 million to a Donald Trump event intended to draw viewers away from the Republican presidential debate? As a start, they should remember these words of wisdom from one of Marvel’s most iconic superhero franchises, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Comics has become one of the most influential forces in shaping American popular culture today. Unfortunately, Marvel has refused to use this power responsibly; even as their celluloid and pulp characters rake in billions fighting fictional bogeyman, Marvel continues to actively perpetuate many of the racial and gender inequalities that thwart justice in the real world. As such, Perlmutter’s support for the Trump campaign – which has emerged as a potent vehicle for racist and sexist ideologies – cannot simply be dismissed as simply one more occasion of a right-wing plutocrat backing one of his own. On a deeper level, it demonstrates that the reactionary ideals embedded in Trumpism are also promoted in our entertainment products… and that if we are going to oppose the former, we must also recognize and take a stand against the latter.
First of all, Ike did not donate to the Trump campaign, he donated to the veterans’ fundraiser. In fact according to the NY Times, the only political effort the Perlmutters donated money to was $2 million to Marco Rubio’s super PAC in 2015.
In the interests of full disclosure, my tenure at Marvel was short, the reason why I quit had nothing to do with Perlmutter who I respected, and everything to the person I direct reported to who was brutal.
Having worked for Perlmutter for a year, one can call him many things, but in no way did his vision of Marvel come close to “right or left wing.” It was all about the “dead presidents.” Ike didn’t care what one’s politics was, gender, race, religion, or even sexual preference all he cared about is whether or not someone could make the company money.
Remember Ike Perlmutter was the man who saved Marvel from being run into the ground by Ron Perelman. At the time he ran the toy company Toy Biz which had the license to make the toys based on Marvel characters, Ike snatched Marvel from Ron Perelman and and Carl Icahn, in order to protect his financial interests, and making Marvel money is what drove his management of the company.
BTW If you have interest in learning about this corporate battle, there is a great book called Comic Wars which chronicled Perlmutter’s out maneuvering of Revlon’s Ron Pereleman.
If Salon had done any research they would have realized that Ike’s only politics was making money for the company (the Rubio donation was made by his wife). In fact Permutter’s drive for profit and famous cheapness led to Disney pulling the Cinematic Universe from his responsibilities.
Perlmutter and the Marvel Creative Committee — which includes Marvel Entertainment president Alan Fine, Marvel Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis, Marvel Comics publisher Dan Buckley, and Marvel Entertainment CCO Joe Quesada — tried to “scale down” Civil War. Feige wasn’t having it, and considered leaving Marvel altogether before Disney CEO Bob Iger agreed to change the corporate structure so Feige would no longer answer to Perlmutter.
Here’s a funny but true story about Ike Perlmutter. My second week at the new job (advertising director for Marvel comics) I received a letter of congratulations from an old colleague who also attached her new business card to the letter. I kept the card and tossed the letter and the still attached clip in the trashed.
A few hours later Ike came into my office and noticed the contents of my trash. He took the paper clip of the letter, put it on my desk and said, “If you throw that out, I have to buy you another one.” That would bother some people, but not me. You see with Ike Perlmutter you always knew what you had to do to make him happy, profit!
What probably happened last week is that in the search for fundraising, Trump called Ike or Laura Perlmutter and asked for money for the Veterans. The Ike and Laura Perlmutter Foundation has a long history of charitable contributions and in their minds this was probably just one more:
…when it comes to charity. Marvel CEO Perlmutter and his wife Laura have donated another $9 million to the NYU Langone Medical Center and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. This follows a previous $50 million donation to the NYU Cancer Institute which was renamed Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center in their honor. Mrs. Perlmutter has been involved with NYU as a volunteer and president of the Tisch Hospital Auxiliary.
All Salon did was try and slander a charitable family (who seemingly supports Rubio) for trying to help some real American Heroes, our veterans. And while I don’t support Trump’s theatrics in avoiding the debate because he was afraid it might hurt his lead in Iowa, it’s hard not to support the Perlmutters’ charitable support of veterans.