Kevin Feige is an American film producer who has been president of Marvel Studios since 2007. The films he has produced have a combined worldwide box office gross of over $18 billion. In 2019, he earned his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture for producing Black Panther.
He has produced Marvel movies since the very first X-Men and and has been involved in some way with the television sector as well. Today he talks to us about the grand scope of Captain Marvel and how human she is and of what kind of work that is going to be produced for Disney Plus programming.
Our interview also covered other topics including why now was the right time for Captain Marvel, working with the amazingly talented Ben Mendelsohn, and the MCU's future now that the X-Men are coming back home following the Disney/Fox deal.
Not only are women getting more representation as superheroes on the big screen, but female heroes are emerging in congress and all over society. In the past you have had great fortune with subtext of your films, whether it be surveillance in The Winter Soldier or a divided country and allegiance in Civil War. Why is now the right time for Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: Your questions are gonna be way better than my answer. It’s a great question. Oh my god. We announced this movie four years ago, four and a half years ago. We based it on comics from a decade or so ago and particularly Kelly Sue [DeConnick] comic run from 2012-ish. So less than 10 years ago. In certain ways the zeitgeist has caught up to Kelly's story in what Captain Marvel represents. With all the films you just named there is a - and I can't answer it honestly - whether it's the zeitgeist that pulls us into it or if we've just gotten lucky that the stories we want to tell end up intersecting with what's happening in real life. I think that happens in publishing the comics is that it shifts and changes based on current events. And that's certainly the case with Winter Soldier, which you named and a lot of our films, this one perhaps being the most relevant and the most apparent.
In the comics, Mar-Vell was more than just Carol's mentor. He was a major cosmic hero and had a long legacy through his children. We see some of that heroism here. Will we see the legacy of Mar-Vell lived through more than just Carol?
Kevin Feige: Will we see it lived through more? Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things that's fun to us about the timeline of this film and the potential of future stories with these characters is there's a great past, not just of Mar-Vell, but of the entire Skrull/Kree conflict and also this gap of history between when Carol Danvers flew off with Talos at the end, spoiler, and when she arrives with the Avengers.
In the comics, the Kree/Skrull war was an ongoing fallout and impacted earth and its heroes in many ways over the years. How did you come to the decision to use the Kree/Skrull war is a backdrop which to introduce Carol?
Kevin Feige: We wanted to give her her own corner of the universe, her own mythology. While we're not specific about this in the movie, there's potential to understand where has she been this whole time? Why haven't we seen her yet? The answer is revealed and hinted at in this movie as she was dealing with a colossal, universal conflict in another section of the MCU.
We've seen a small segment of the Skrull population now looking for sanctuary, where the rest and are they as nice as this group?
Kevin Feige: Great question. As Talos says there are many of them spread throughout the galaxy. And we've said, part of the twist that you're alluding to, is about flushing out these pointy eared, green aliens. Making them real, making them fully formed and part of, for better for worse, part of being fully formed and being a three-dimensional species is there are probably good ones as we've seen in this film. And there are probably bad ones.
Let me just say that Ben Mendelsohn, even with all that makeup on, is so charming. He's incredible.
Kevin Feige: He’s astounding. “TGBM,” that was a phrase that we had during the making of the move, which is just Thank God for Ben Mendelsohn. Cause he’s so good in that makeup.
This movie paints the Skrulls in an interesting light and leaves them on seemingly good terms of Carol and Earth. When we think Skrulls, we think Secret Invasion. Is that something that's still on the table after what's transpired and Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: I mean, anything we haven't done, anything from the books that we haven't yet done in film is always on the table.
Captain Marvel also lays a foundation for a future adventure in the superhero Photon [Monica Rambeau]. If you pay attention, you subtly place the next generation of heroes in plain sight, whether it be looking at Cassie and Ant-Man, Shuri or Monica Rambeau. Is there any plan to bring these characters together at some point?
Kevin Feige: That would be fun. That would be a good idea.
I'm a big Captain Marvel fan just from the comics. And I know that with Kamala Khan, before she became Kamala Khan, she was in plain sight in a panel and I believe it's Captain Marvel 14. Just in a panel, almost an Easter egg. Is there a chance that we've already seen Kamala Khan in this movie almost as an Easter egg?
Kevin Feige: No. No. I mean Monica you've mentioned and it's not hidden. Obviously. It's right there. The answer is no. Cause I think Ms. Marvel is a contemporary story and I don't think she was born yet.
Captain Marvel's nearly omnipotent, which has been a challenge for writers in the comics for characters like Superman who have a lack of physical weakness. How do you keep the character grounded and vulnerable in future installments as her power grows?
Kevin Feige: I think as with some of the other characters you've mentioned there are no characters, certainly no Marvel characters that are invulnerable and that are immortal. They can all be killed at some point as Loki says to Thor in Avengers 1. So we may see that at some point, introduce that at some point.
I have a question about The Eternals. Can you talk a bit about the scope of what The Eternals might be and will it take us back to the beginning of life on earth or more of a modern tale?
Kevin Feige: Yes.
Fair enough. How is Shang-Chi coming along because I'm really excited for that one as well too.
Kevin Feige: It's all early days. Anything post-Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home is, at least publicly, all sort of in the works and time will tell.
It seems that the Quantum Realm will be positioned as a prominently going forward, as the Infinity Stones were in the first 10 years of the MCU. How important will this concept be?
Kevin Feige: I think really important. I think it's one of the fun things about the comics that allow you to explore entirely new terrains. And we've hinted at it now in numerous films and its primarily untapped potential.
It's no secret that Captain Marvel is being positioned to be the center of the MCU. However, it seems that the mega success of Black Panther was understandably unexpected. And his future presence should increase. How do you change the future storylines based on the success of characters?
Kevin Feige: The truth is we haven't done that honestly. I mean we've had plans, we always hope films will do well enough that we can make more films. Panther did and then some as you point out. But none of the stories as we've wanted to tell them, have altered yet based on somebody's box office success. That being said, of course, Wakanda and Panther and his amazing, amazing, group of characters will be seen in many different ways in the future.
Well, that's good because I love those characters. You guys are doing more of the space stuff, the MCU in space. How do you keep the tones of those films unique, because Guardians is a lot different than this even.
Kevin Feige: Yeah. And I'm glad you said that. It's the filmmakers, I'm mean, Anna [Boden] and Ryan [Fleck] are very different than James Gunn or different from Taika [Waititi] or different from Joss or John and Joe and Anthony. And that’s how the tones are all different even though they're similar. Either power sets or a science fiction concept.
Just out of curiosity, did you have a favorite ‘90s song that was in Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: Um, no. I liked all of them and we listened to dozens, dozens of other ones as you can imagine as we were honing in on it. I’m just now 45 years old and feeling old, that these are all, I mean, a period movie based on the year I graduated college.
I'm 36 and I felt I felt the same kind of where I was like, Oh man, I remember this like it was yesterday.
Kevin Feige: I do like that, what's it called? Celebrity Skin. That song works quite well.
Could The Eternals introduce some new locations like Atlantis, Olympus, allowing for characters like Namor or Hercules to make their way into the MCU?
Kevin Feige: Could it or will it are two very different things. One of the things we like about The Eternals and have started thinking about how we could do something with it are The Eternals themselves. Not as a way to introduce any other characters, and there are a lot of Eternals that are all very distinct and different from one another and that that's our focus.
I met Brie Larson yesterday and she's one of the most amazing, wonderful people just in general as a person. What do you think she brings to the MCU? Just her presence alone.
Kevin Feige: Well I think she's amazing on camera and off camera, what you just said it. From our initial meetings with her to her coming out on stage in San Diego at Hall H when we announced her casting, to her social media presence and of course her ability to bring this character to life. It's amazing. And I think we've been very lucky with casting where these people. And I think it's true of Downey and Chadwick and certainly Chris Evans. They embody these characters in ways that don't require any visual effects whatsoever.
You know one thing I love about this movie as well is the friendship. To me that's a highlight of the movie, the friendship between Maria and Carol. I think that it keeps it grounded. It doesn't need to be a love interest in this movie. It's just a bond and a friendship. Talk to me about how that relationship is just different than any other kind of relationship and how that keeps Carol grounded and brings her back to her humanity.
Kevin Feige: Well that was something as we were developing the script and queuing off of the comics as always, it never even occurred to have a love interest. That's not what the movie was about. It was about Carol finding herself and growing and making mistakes and being bolstered up by her female mentors and female friends. And that relationship with Maria was very important. It was something that was, and frankly I give all credit to Lashana [Lynch] who was amazing and who, and I don't know if it's a spoiler or not, but the unique structure of the origin story that this movie has. Initially we were like, is that bond going to be strong enough? Are we having not experienced it in real time upfront when they get to Louisiana? Is it going to land? And we saw the frankly the audition and then the dailies. Oh it's landing there. They're amazing.
Yeah, to me that's one of the highlights of the movie. That relationship. One thing too is you already start seeing a glimmer of a hero in young Monica. She already has this spark of hope, but she feels like she's starting to go on her own journey as a hero eventually. Are there plans from Monica in the future?
Kevin Feige: As I sort of said before anything not announced yet or anything post Endgame and Spider-Man is all just full of potential.
I know that the X-Men are finally coming back. And this is not an X-Men question, but I'm a big Scott Summers fan, so he's my favorite character of all time. So just please make them cool.
Kevin Feige: Was he not being cool before?
I feel that like he always gets the short end of the stick, Scott Summers. But I'm hoping that we get Starjammers movie before they even get introduced to the X-Men. I love Corsair. Have you begun mapping out Captain Marvel's larger story arc or have you been brainstorming on the second part of Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: Yes. Yeah. I mean we always brainstorm. The making of a first film is in some ways a brainstorm on the future and on what can be. So what it will be again not clear. But what it could be is pretty amazing.
I also think that we know that Nick Fury now has definitely been through some stuff between '95 and when he meets Iron Man. I guess it could be an origin story in a sense for Nick Fury too. But do you think we'll get to explore more of Fury in between being actual spy?
Kevin Feige: I think the fun part about about seeing this portion of the MCU is that gap. We've heard about some of it and Winter Soldier. The Robert Redford character talks about some timelines and we've mentioned some of those adventures. The potential is there and I just love the notion of someday people watching the Marvel Studios Films for the first time and maybe they'll, you know, sometimes I like how people debate online, what's the best order to watch them in. Is it release order? Is it chronologically, well, if they watch this movie before they watch Iron Man, when Nick Fury comes out in the tag and says, you're not the only superhero in the world. They'll go, no, he's talking about her.
That's what I do. I do the chronological order now before every movie. Last question, fans are eagerly awaiting the upcoming series on Disney Plus. How involved are you with the storylines of Loki, Falcon and Winter Soldier, Vision and Scarlet Witch? Do you guys have any sense of the budget on these projects? How do you guys envision these shows?
Kevin Feige: We were entirely involved. Marvel Studios is producing for Disney Plus. And, without being too specific, we want to do something that's going to stand right alongside the MCU films and we'll be completely intertwined and the story and the characters will go back and forth between Disney Plus programming and the films.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019