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Rewriting History: The Battle of Blood River and Who Cooked Up The MCU

I think I read it somewhere: “History is written by the victors.”

I was flummoxed to see this again in action this week.

CASE STUDY #1: Who takes the credit for the Marvel Movies?

Well, for the last 15 or so years it was clear: Kevin Feige, the all-powerful, all-seeing visionary Studio Boss and Executive Producer. He with the golden touch, the comic book fanboy that laid out a sequel universe that everyone is trying to copy. Including himself. After the Avengers storyline concluded, the follow-up efforts have had a lukewarm reception. And people wonder if he’s lost his touch.

What if it was never his touch in the first place? Could it be that the dude is a fake?

David Maisel has suddenly popped up in a few interviews, asserting a somewhat forgotten version of the truth. And it turns out he was the guy that started it all, he was the guy that cooked up the whole Iron Man leads to the Hulk leads to Thor leads to Captain America leads to Avengers and back again in a 27-movie $30 BILLION extravaganza that was a piece of art in its construction. The real comic book fan, the chap that took Marvel Studios from a licensing company to a full-blown powerhouse in the industry.

He started things, promoted Feige into his job, flipped Marvel to Disney for a cool $4 Billion, took his cut and exited stage left. And now they kind of talk about him as a footnote and the moneyman. I don’t get it. My only plausible explanation is that it served Feige to take the credit all the way through, and maybe nobody liked Maisel anyway. But it’s not cool. There’s another cool quote that states: “You can accomplish almost anything in life as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit.” Feige has positioned himself as the visionary, at the expense of real events. But in a moment when things are looking wonky, Maisel steps back into the spotlight, looking for publicity for his new venture… and, in the process, exposing the lack of cohesion in his protégé’s vision, now that the blueprint he had left behind has run its course. So maybe Feige has always been a great COO… but as a CEO, he is actually a bust, as we are finding out.

I look forward to seeing how this all plays out.

CASE STUDY #2: The Battle of Blood River, circa 16 December 1838.

What I was told growing up in Apartheid South Africa:

A ragtag bunch of men, women and children venture into the unknown interior of South Africa. They receive word that they are to be attacked by a bloodthirsty horde of savage Zulus. In desperation, they draw their wagon in a lager, pray to God for a miracle, and then courageously face the onslaught against overwhelming numbers. By the grace of the Almighty, they defeat the Zulus, and the hordes retreat, leaving the courageous settlers to reflect on the promise made: God saved them, thereby ratifying their place in this promised land, and they would forever more honour him by honouring this day as the day of the Vow.

History, these days, tells this story #2:

Andries Pretorius answered a summons from the frontline settlers to teach the local tribes a lesson. A well-armed, well-prepared troop of men with horses, superior firepower and strategic advantage, established a strategically defensible base deep in enemy territory, taunting the tribal adversary to attack. When they did, they were not only slaughtered but the survivors were chased down on horseback and dealt with. The result was the river ran red with their blood, with no casualties on the side of the ‘invaders’.

This story is immortalized on the walls of the Voortrekker monument and inspired me as a boy. But, like Joan of Arc, Robin Hood, the Crusades, and many more historical examples of heroic bravery… it is worth reflecting that it is a perspective, a view and that our work is to interrogate that perspective and that view with a wider angle lens…

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