When the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with Iron Man in 2008, not many people envisioned the type of success that Marvel Studios would come to enjoy. Tony Stark is many things, but he’s always been a futurist; it seems that Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige may be a bit of a futurist too. We caught up with Feige prior to the release of Avengers: Infinity War and he recapped the now 10 year journey to this point, talked about the scale of Avengers: Infinity War and opened up a bit about the future of the MCU.
How’s everything going today?
Kevin Feige: It's going good. I find awkward that nobody's seen the movie yet because I usually like to do these things after everybody sees the movie, but the nature of...we're premiering tomorrow and needing to get these interviews otherwise.
SR: It started with Tony Stark. He's accomplished many of his goals and for his team, his worst nightmare has come true in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What do you want audiences to take audiences to take away with the Tony Stark character? Because he's evolved quite a bit.
Kevin Feige: Yeah, I think that's what's so great about that character. What's so great about Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of that character and what is unbelievably meaningful for us is to have the opportunity to grow and evolve this character over multiple films and it was something that we dreamed about doing in the early days because we want it to emulate the experience of reading a comic where these characters go on for many, many years and where they change, where they evolve with the times and where we see them grow to a certain extent within the comics and of course interweaving with other characters at any time. And the dream was always to replicate that on the big screen and the only way to do it was trying to get audiences to fall in love with each individual character to time and then throw them together and just have that experience that we hoped that we knew comic readers had, and I had reading comics, that the broader film audience would have seeing the movie. And it really wasn't until Sam Jackson showed up at the end of Iron Man and Tony Stark walking in to see General Ross in The Incredible Hulk. And certainly all the Avengers getting together for the first time in, in the first avengers film that we realized, “Oh, audiences love this.” Like there is something I really believe it's a key. It's a chemical thing that happens in your brain that is just awesome seeing characters that aren't usually together or that, you know, from their own series coming together for the first time. And I'm very happy that audiences around the world respond to it the same way I do enough. Going back to the first time Ryan Meinerding did a key frame of Thor and Captain America, Iron Man together, which was the first time we’d ever seen the movie versions of the characters in a frame. We just looked at that and went, this is gonna work.
SR: How does it feel for you personally at this point? Because you just talked about seeing all the characters together. Now, here we are 10 years later and we got Infinity War. It has to be like, wow, we made it, you know what I mean? It's here.
Kevin Feige: It is. It's astounding. You always get nervous before you screen a movie because people tell you that they’ve waited their whole life for it and you go “Man...expectations.” But I think what Joe and Anthony Russo have done with this entire cast has done with Chris Markus and McFeely have done not only with Infinity War, but with the next Avengers film, that people have to wait a year to see, is very special and I pinched myself many times during production. We were actually able to do this. It all really came home. I've always been a forward thinking person. I've always thought about the future, always set goals on the far-off horizon and aim towards those in my life, in my career and certainly with the MCU. But on those days when we had all the actors together and when we shot, I'm sure you've seen what we call the class photo with everybody together, that was overwhelming. That really gave us an amazing opportunity to stop and just for a moment, look back and try to comprehend what we've been through. I've never been that kind of...I’ve always been nostalgic for pop culture. I've never been nostalgic for my own life. I didn't go to class reunions I didn't even attend my own graduation because I was already working by that point. But sitting there with everybody in that class photo, there were even some Marvel hardcover comic guides that were handed out that people started treating like yearbooks and going around and signing each other's books that I thought, this is, this is incredible. This is, you know, this is 10 years of our lives.
SR: Will Marvel Studios have a presence at San Diego Comic Con this year?
Kevin Feige: Of course, Marvel have a presence there. Marvel Studios will have a presence there. There'll be some 10th anniversary materials and the 10th anniversary panel. We are not doing Hall H this year.
SR: I was talking to my buddy Brandon Davis and you talked to him earlier. He gave me the great news about Nova possibly heading to the, to the MCU. I'm a huge fan of that, but on a different front, I'm also a big fan of Moon Knight. Any chances that we could see moon night past what's already been kind of announced?
Kevin Feige: Yes. Does that mean five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now? There are stacks of cards that we have in our, in our development offices, which we look at. We pull for him, which we discussed. And what I told Brian is that Nova is among them for sure. But the stack is about this thing.
SR: I used to play this game called Heroclix. I had the Guardians of the Galaxy set before the Guardians of the Galaxy where thing. So when you made the announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy, I was like, wait, like Rocket Raccoon and Groot! How much of a risk was that in your head and like, cause you don't know necessarily that's going to pay off or not?
Kevin Feige: No, I mean I say every movie, every movie is a risk. A sequel to a successful movie is a risk because it could not work and it could disappoint people. A movie based on a character nobody's ever heard of is a risk, but that's just the nature of spending, you know, a lot of money and trying to fulfill a lot of expectations. The biggest risk, the biggest risk was we'd not be able to deliver Iron Man. We wouldn't be a studio after that. The risk was that Iron Man would be the only character that people cared about and that it wouldn't work. Then we made Avengers and it worked and then the risk was we would just be the Avengers studio and that's not what Marvel Comics are. Marvel Comics have an incredible depth of different types of characters and different genres and different arenas, supernatural, space, and we want to explore so many of them as we could.
I was a huge Star Wars nerd. I love space movies. I want to do movies with spaceships in them and Guardians seemed like a unique opportunity to do that. And Nicole was tasked with writing a version. We said, let's just try this. And then writer's program, we had James Gunn, of course then he totally made it his own and breathed real life into these characters and added the music element to it. And it became what we all know, but it really, the risk for us was not doing those things. One particular formula which I think wouldn't have served us very well. So adding the Guardians, adding Doctor Strange, adding Ant-Man, adding Black Panther and these characters that some are more known than others, but outside of people who collect Heroclix or comics, none of those characters were well-known. Honestly...Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hulk was about for about 30 years was what most people knew from these characters.
SR: Spider-Man was talks of a possible femme fatale that's going to be answering Peter Parker's life. Now that's a short list. And the one that immediately pops my head at least is Black Cat.
Kevin Feige: No, that was, uh, that, that was a misleading minor casting search. None of those rumors are true at all.
SR: Netflix characters are a little tricky because of all the, you know, scheduling. I'm sure that's very difficult. Is there any chance that we can end up seeing them eventually at some point in the cinematic universe, in the film version of the universe?
Kevin Feige: I don't know. It really, it really remains to be seen so much of what they're doing has been set. We've already shot Avengers 4, so much of what we're doing is set. I never say never, but I'm not sure when that would be.
SR: The Fox thing, I know it's not a done deal and it's kind of an unavoidable thing. In the past there were always talks, especially with Spider-Man, of adding characters to scripts, having different drafts ready to go for those different characters. Do you guys have any of that in line for the Fantastic Four or the X-Men currently?
Kevin Feige: No. No. We’re focusing on, on fulfilling the promise and finishing what we started, what we announced all those years ago on a stage at the El Capitan where we announced Infinity War and the next Avengers film. Other than another Spider-Man film which we are working on, which starts filming in London this summer, those are the five movies we're working on. We have a lot of ideas and a lot of thoughts on where to go beyond that when we are told one way or the other about Fox. That's when we'd start thinking about that. And also we're very busy. We have a lot going on.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019