After a bogus rumor taking aim at longtime Marvel producer Avi Arad popped up on Twitter and Reddit last night, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer Phil Lord took to Twitter today to defend Arad as a genuine Marvel fan and someone whose input and enthusiasm greatly improved Spider-Verse. Arad, a longtime associate of Marvel president Ike Perlmutter, has a career that isn't without missteps or controversy, but has long been associated with helping ot save the comics publisher from bankruptcy in the '90s and push Marvel into the television and film spaces in a way that prior managers, including Stan Lee himself, were never really able to do.
Last night's rumor, which has had its replies turned off on Reddit since it became clear pretty quickly that its source was questionable at best, suggested that Arad had been downgraded from producer (a title used for studio executives who engage with movies on a day to day basis and help determine their creative direction) to executive producer (an executive who helps develop a property and puts up some money, but isn't too influential in the production) on the forthcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. The premise was that Arad had been a producer on Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home and that his role had been reduced in order to limit his input into the upcoming blockbuster.
Why's it bogus? Well, in part because Arad (as well as fellow veteran Amazing Spider-Man producer Matt Tolmach) had already taken on executive producer titles on Homecoming and Far From Home, their influence having been significantly diminished when Marvel and Disney teamed with Sony for the latest reboot (thanks to The Beat for pointing that one out).
With Arad having been attached to some of the most unpopular decisions in the Spider-Man movie franchises, though (he has taken "credit" for forcing Venom into Raimi's Spider-Man 3 before), the notion that he could have been to blame for things like a reduced number of Marvel Studios characters appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming was apparently too tempting for people to pass up, and the rumor took off overnight. That's when it came to Phil Lord's attention, and he felt like he had to defend his producer:
Avi was a huge part of Spider-verse and his enthusiasm and encouragement and intelligence made our movie much better than it otherwise would have been. He is a True Believer.— Phil Lord #BlackLivesMatter #StopAsianHate (@philiplord) April 19, 2021
Arad has made some questionable creative and business choices over decades working as a Marvel and Sony producer, but he was also the first executive to voice a desire to make an animated Spider-Man movie. Some rumors have claimed he opposed the idea of using Miles Morales as the point of view character, but based on Lord's comments it seems unlikely that Arad was significantly obstructing any key part of Into the Spider-Verse.