THR broke a bombshell this afternoon: Victoria Alonso, the production executive who has had a hand in every MCU film since Iron Man has left the studio as of Friday.

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Alonso rose through the ranks from chief of visual effects and post-production to co-producer on 2008’s Iron Man. Her co-production credits continued on subsequent MCU films, with a promotion to executive producer on 2012’s Avengers. Since then, she has had an executive producer credit on every MCU release, and most of the Disney+ slate. In 2021 she was promoted to president, physical and post-production, visual effects and animation production, a position second only to Kevin Feige at the studio.

She’s also been a very visible face for the MCU in terms of representation, as an openly queer Latine, and one of the highest ranking female studio executives. Alonso is unquestionably one of the key forces behind the most successful film franchise of all time, so her departure as the MCU is going in new directions with Phase Five is a shocker.

While speculation is already beginning as to the cause, the one most cited is Marvel’s recent troubles with VFX artists who complained of overwork and underpay. Alonso ran this department and in expose’s on the working conditions at the studio had been identified as a touch boss behind the scenes. 

But two other technicians with experience working on Marvel projects lay responsibility for the fear of an alleged blacklist at the feet of Alonso. “The main one that everyone’s quite scared of is Victoria Alonso,” says a Vancouver-based tech who has vowed to never work for the studio again. “She is known in the industry as a kingmaker. If she likes you, you are going to get work and move up in the industry. If you have pissed her off in any way, you’re going to get frozen out.”

Recent complaints of the poor VFX for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – with vivid reports from VFX artists of not having enough time to make things look high quality – may also have been a tipping point.

Alonso was also scenes behind the scenes about inclusion in the MCU, and won numerous awards for her work, making her departure all the more shocking.

A little analysis of my own as someone who has been covering the MCU since its inception: Marvel Studios started out under Ike Perlmutter and was run by him for years, with well documented examples of being a cheapskate – it wasn’t just junkets. Marvel’s skimping on VFX and demanding last minute changes were undoubtedly features from this era that continued even after Feige took over the studio. And this skimping undoubtedly helped make the movies so very profitable.

Marvel’s VFX has long been criticized as being one of the weaker parts of their films, and their reliance on a CGI unit to turn out all the action scenes has given the films a unified but homogenous look that people were beginning to tire of.  It’s possible that Alonso’s departure is all part of this, but it is unfortunate that a queer woman of color is the first to leave over issues that affected the entire studio.

Nonetheless, with her experience and track record – Victoria Alonso also produced Argentina, 1985 which was nominated for a for Best Foreign Film Oscar this year, and won a Golden Globe – Alonso is sure to end up somewhere else, perhaps some studio hoping to replicate the MCU success story.