Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently answered questions about Avengers: Endgame as well as the MCU's future - and here are the biggest takeaways. Feige first began to work for Marvel in 2000, when he was hired as a producer; the depth of his Marvel knowledge impressed his direct reports, and Feige's influence grew by the year. In 2007, he was named president of production for Marvel Studios.
Feige has overseen the stratospheric growth of the Marvel brand, establishing a new and untested studio and turning them into a household name. The MCU has now grossed over $21 billion worldwide, and Avengers: Endgame is within a hair's breadth of beating Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time. In large part that success is driven by Feige's visionary leadership; he's well known for playing the long game, carefully planning things out well in advance.
With Avengers: Endgame playing on the big screen, and marketing picking up for Spider-Man: Far From Home, Feige decided the time was right to conduct an Ask Me Almost Anything on Reddit. Naturally, he only gave away a little; Marvel is keeping their MCU Phase 4 plans under wraps right now, and it's generally assumed they'll be announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. What's more, Feige avoided questions asking about the relationship between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television, especially tie-in TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Still, the answers he gave were quite illuminating, shining a light on the past, present, and future of the MCU.
11. Marvel Started Planning Infinity War And Endgame Back In 2012
Marvel has always been known for playing the long game, and to many viewers, the first real hint of their long-term plans was in the post-credits scene of The Avengers. Director Joss Whedon knew he needed a big bad to be the force behind Loki, and he'd always been a fan of Thanos in the comics, so he asked for permission to introduce the Mad Titan. To his delight, Marvel agreed. And according to Feige, that's when Marvel first began to consider how they could adapt Jim Starlin's Infinity Gauntlet comic for the MCU.
Plans really began to take shape at a creative retreat about five years ago, when Marvel decided to split the story into two films; this was, presumably, shortly before the initial Phase 3 announcement, which used the titles of Infinity War Part I and II. In early 2015, shortly before production began on Captain America: Civil War, Marvel asked Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to work on the scripts, and the Russo brothers to direct. "We started to crack the specifics of the story during production on Civil War," Feige remembered, "in a conference room as we went back and forth between takes."
10. Mark Ruffalo Helped Plan The Hulk's Arc
The Hulk had a loose, three-film character arc running from Thor: Ragnarok, through Avengers: Infinity War, and finally coming to an end in Avengers: Endgame. Surprisingly, it seems the original inspiration for this arc came from Mark Ruffalo himself. "Many years ago, Mark came in for a meeting with us at Marvel Studios to discuss ways in which the Hulk could grow and evolve in upcoming films," Feige noted. "He pitched a lot of cool ideas, some of which led to what you saw in Thor: Ragnarok, Infinity War and Endgame, and some of which would still be cool to see someday." When an actor plays a role for several years, they come to care a lot about the character, and it's pleasing to see Marvel factors their actors' own views and ideas into their plans.
9. Captain America Was Always Worthy
One crowd-pleasing moment in Avengers: Endgame saw Steve Rogers wield Mjolnir against Thanos. As far as Feige is concerned, though, that shouldn't have come as a surprise. "We think he was always worthy," he noted, "and was being polite in Age of Ultron." Interestingly, Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon would have agreed. When asked why Cap wasn't worthy at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, he gave a simple response; "Is he not?"
8. How The Hulk's Counter-Snap Worked
The Hulk was a key player in Avengers: Endgame, the only one strong enough to use Iron Man's Infinity Gauntlet and survive the experience. He was able to use the Infinity Gauntlet to reverse the snap, bringing back everyone who had been lost. There's been a lot of debate about just how that counter-snap worked, though; for example, some people would have vanished while they were flying on a plane, and would potentially have reappeared in the open air at an altitude of over 30,000 feet. One questioner asked if it was possible the Hulk didn't just bring everyone back - but compensated for this, ensuring people were restored at a safe place. Feige seemed to like the idea. "We refer to the version of Hulk in Endgame as Smart Hulk," he observed. "So, yes."
Amusingly, the term "Smart Hulk" is actually pretty much canon. It was the term used to indicate the Hulk's dialogue by assistive captioning technology for hearing impaired moviegoers.
7. Marvel Knows How Time Travel Works In Avengers: Endgame
There's been heated debate about just how time travel works in the MCU, not helped by the fact that the writers and directors of Avengers: Endgame seem to have a different interpretation. Feige was asked if he could give a definite canon answer to the question, but his response was less than helpful; "Yes," he answered, and left it there. It's possible that Feige feels he doesn't need to give an answer at this stage, simply because there's a fair chance the Multiverse will be explored further in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Alternatively, it could also be that he doesn't want to stir this particular debate up by insisting on one approach over another.
6. Stan Lee Never Got To See Avengers: Endgame
Sadly, it seems the late Stan Lee never got to see Avengers: Endgame. "Stan loved to wait to see the final movie at the premiere," Feige responded, "so unfortunately he did not get to see the finished movie." He did, however, get a download of the full story the day he came to shoot his cameo.
5. Marvel Has The Next 5 Years Planned In Detail
According to Feige, Marvel usually operates within a 5-year detailed plan, which means he'll currently have an idea of everything up to 2024. They do "often have a general plan that extends much, much further," though, which explains previous reports that Marvel has everything up to 2028 mapped out.
4. Marvel May Have Plans For The Mandarin
Curiously, Feige gave only one concrete detail about the MCU's future. He was asked a direct question about whether or not Marvel intended to use the Ten Rings criminal organization again, or their leader the (real) Mandarin, who was hinted at in the All Hail the King one-shot. "Yes," Feige replied, confirming that something's in the works. Of course, it's impossible to say whether this was in relation to the Ten Rings or to the Mandarin himself. Still, recurring rumors have suggested the Mandarin could appear in Shang-Chi, and Feige's comment suggests these may be accurate.
3. Forgotten Characters May Return
Feige was asked whether he would consider bringing back previously-forgotten characters, such as the Leader, the Abomination, or Justin Hammer. Although he carefully avoided giving an answer to any of those names, he did nevertheless note that he loves bringing back characters people think they've seen the last of, and pointed to Thunderbolt Ross from The Incredible Hulk and Harley Keener from Iron Man 3 as examples.
2. The Marvel One-Shots Seem To Be Over...
Feige was repeatedly asked about whether or not Marvel could bring back the one-shots, but sadly that looks unlikely. "The best thing about the One Shots is that we got to flesh out other characters," Feige observed. "It's tremendously exciting that we now have Disney+ series where we get to do that on a grand scale with many of the characters you know and love." He clearly views the Disney + TV shows as the spiritual successor to the one-shot program. Feige promised that these shows would tie in "totally and completely" to the movies.
1. Why There Won't Be Kevin Feige Cameos
There's been a lot of speculation that Feige will keep the Stan Lee cameo tradition alive by making his own surprise appearances in the MCU. Feige himself doesn't seem to be particularly keen on the idea, however; "I don't like being on camera," he revealed, "but I did cameo in a deleted scene in the first X-Men as a Weapon X technician. I was completely covered in a hood, mask and goggles." It's pretty entertaining to realize that the one Kevin Feige cameo in history saw him completely hidden, and was cut from the final film.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019