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Did Disney fire this queer Marvel Studios exec for Don’t Say Gay criticism?

Victoria Alonso
Victoria Alonso on June 23, 2022Photo: Shutterstock

Longtime Marvel Studios executive Victoria Alonso’s abrupt dismissal by Disney last week shocked many in the entertainment business. But even more shocking details have since emerged, suggesting that the entertainment giant may have fired Alonso in part for her criticism of Disney’s initial response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Alonso served as the studio’s former President of Physical, Post-Production, VFX, and Animation, and had been a leading force behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe dating back to 2008’s Iron Man. She’s been described as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s “primary right hand” in bringing the massively successful comic book franchise to the screen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alonso was fired for violating her contract with the studio by producing the Oscar-nominated Argentinian film Argentina, 1985 without alerting studio bosses. Sources claimed that Alonso’s 2018 contract prohibited her from working on projects at other studios, like Amazon Studio’s film production. However, Disney initially chose to overlook the transgression, sources said, updating her contract last year to explicitly forbid her from working on and promoting non-Marvel projects.

Alonso, who was born and raised in Argentina, opted to promote Argentina, 1985 during this year’s awards season. She even walked the Oscars red carpet with the film’s director instead of the producers of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which was also nominated for several awards. She was reportedly fired for breach of contract eight days later.

But at least one former Disney film executive has cast doubt on that reasoning. “The idea that Disney both knew and approved her ability to work on [Argentina, 1985], then ostensibly say they have cause to fire her over an interview or two in support of that film, seems crazy,” they said.

Late last week, Alonso’s attorney Patty Glaser, also fired back at Disney.

“The idea that Victoria was fired over a handful of press interviews relating to a personal passion project about human rights and democracy that was nominated for an Oscar and which she got Disney’s blessing to work on is absolutely ridiculous,” Glaser said in a statement. “Victoria, a gay Latina who had the courage to criticize Disney, was silenced. Then she was terminated when she refused to do something she believed was reprehensible.” 

It’s unclear what Alonso refused to do that she found “reprehensible,” but in 2022, she was outspoken in her criticism of Disney’s initial response to Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The studio was met with widespread anger from both employees and celebrities when it was slow to condemn the law, which bans discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in grades K-3 and severely restricts it in grades 4­-12. At the 2022 GLAAD Media Awards, Alonso called out Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek.

“If you are a member of the LGBTQIA community and you work at the Walt Disney Company, the last two or three weeks have been a sad event. I’ve asked Mr. Chapek for courage in a 45-minute sit-down,” she said while accepting the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film for Eternals at the April 2022 event.

“I asked him to look around and truly if what we sell is entertainment for the family, we don’t choose what family. Family is this entire room. Family is the family in Texas, in Arizona, in Florida, and in my family, in my home,” she continued.

“So I ask you again Mr. Chapek: please respect — if we’re selling family — take a stand against all of these crazy outdated laws. Take a stand for family. Stop saying that you tolerate us — nobody tolerates me, let me tell you that,” she added. “You tolerate the heat in Florida, the humidity in Arizona or Florida, and the dryness in Arizona and Texas. And you tolerate a tantrum in a two-year-old. But you don’t tolerate us. We deserve the right to live, love, and have. More importantly, we deserve an origin story.”

A source told Variety that shortly after making that statement, Alonso was told she would no longer be allowed to do press for Marvel projects.

“Disney and Marvel made a really poor decision that will have serious consequences,” Glaser said in her statement. “There is a lot more to this story and Victoria will be telling it shortly — in one forum or another.”

Disney has accused Alonso and Glaser of leaving out “several key factors concerning her departure” in their account.

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