Kevin Feige has now become Marvel Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer, and that could dramatically change the shape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The last 11 years of blockbuster Marvel movies stand as testament to the skill and imagination of Kevin Feige, the visionary producer who's become one of Disney's hottest talents. He's proved himself time and again, and Disney CEO Bob Iger rhapsodized about Feige's creative genius in his recent biography, The Ride of a Lifetime.
In 2015, Marvel Studios and Marvel Entertainment were separated as part of a major corporate restructure, and Feige took charge of the film division. It's long been assumed that it was only a matter of time before these separate and distinct Disney subsidiaries were once again brought more closely together, though, and it's finally happening. Feige has officially been appointed Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment.
The last few years have been rather strange for Marvel, with the MCU's success not really impacting comic book sales. Meanwhile, Marvel Television has seemed increasingly sidelined, and the bulk of their shows have either been canceled or are coming to their natural end. It's now possible to have a more joined-up approach again - but how would that change the MCU?
Kevin Feige's Marvel Role Explained
As president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige currently has overall responsibility for the film division, and he reports in to Disney Studios' Alan Horn and Alan Bergman. In addition, though, he's now officially Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. That means he has oversight on creative, editorial, and narrative decisions across all mediums - ranging from television to animation. Dan Buckley, president of Marvel Entertainment, will be remaining in post and reporting in directly to Feige. All Marvel Entertainment's various creative execs - ranging from editor in chief C.B. Cebulski to TV head Jeph Loeb - will continue to feed in to Buckley.
This doesn't technically mean that Feige is in charge of Marvel Entertainment - not quite. Buckley has a dual reporting line, both to Feige and to Marvel's controversial and reclusive chairman Ike Perlmutter. Perlmutter will continue to have oversight of publishing operations, sales, creative services, games, licensing, and events. Still, it's hard not to see this development as the latest attempt to reduce Perlmutter's sphere of influence, with Feige becoming the key player. The relationship between Feige and Perlmutter has been a difficult one in the past - Perlmutter almost forced Feige out of Hollywood altogether in 2015 - so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
What His Role Means For Marvel TV
Marvel Television has had a troubled history, with the various TV shows becoming increasingly separated from the movies after the 2015 corporate restructure. They've had some high-profile hits, including Marvel's flagship TV show, Agents of SHIELD, and Netflix series like Daredevil and The Punisher. But unfortunately there have also been several major misses, notably an ill-fated Inhumans series that seems to have killed the brand off in the comics as well, and most of the current slate has either been canceled or is coming to an end; Hulu recently pulled the plug on the Ghost Rider series. There have been reports that live-action TV is being moved over to Marvel Studios completely, simply because Marvel Television can't compete with the kind of quality Feige is producing for Disney+. This perhaps explains why Marvel Television's current plans appear to be moving to animations disconnected from the MCU.
Feige's new position doesn't necessarily mean the end of Marvel Television's live-action shows, though. Variety reports that no decisions have been made regarding either current projects or those in development, and that Feige and his team are evaluating everything on an individual basis. He'll perhaps be interested by observations such as those presented by Marvel Entertainment's SVP of Original Programming and Production, Karim Zreik, when he recently discussed the future of Marvel Television. Zreik explained that Marvel had learned their shows work best when aimed at niche audiences, explaining why Cloak & Dagger and Runaways are targeted at the young adult market and why Marvel still hope to run a range of horror shows on Hulu. Furthermore, Zreik insisted that Marvel Television has found that even lower-profile brands can be a hit if they have the right showrunner - and Feige would doubtless agree with this assessment, having greenlit unexpected movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Eternals.
It's important to note that Feige will not sign off on sub-par content. Where Perlmutter is notoriously spendthrift, Feige believes in paying as much as you need to make the best content; indeed, this philosophical difference was at the core of their dispute in 2015. Feige's approach has paid dividends with Marvel Studios, and it's sure to do the same with Marvel Entertainment as well. The budgetary constraints that led to problem shows like Iron Fist and Inhumans will likely be a lot less common now Feige is involved.
How This Impacts The MCU's Future
Ultimately, the potential is there for the Marvel brand to become a lot more joined-up going forward. Feige and Buckley have worked together before, and they reportedly have a good relationship. What's more, Buckley has a reputation for a cross-medium approach, and he loves to synergize content across different platforms. That raises the possibility that he'll try to connect the dots between Marvel Television and Marvel Studios; in the short-term it's reasonable to assume that any such connections will be thematic rather than character-specific, though. Feige will, after all, still prioritize his actors for Marvel Studios' own movies and Disney+ shows.
Some fans are speculating that some Marvel Television characters may finally make the jump from the small screen into the movies, and there's particular interest over former Marvel Netflix characters like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. While character rights prevent any reboot before late 2020, Feige could potentially choose to then incorporate some of these superheroes into the films. This is, however, quite unlikely; Feige is trying to connect his films to the Disney+ series, and he would hardly prioritize a link between the MCU and a rival streaming service.
One of the more interesting possibilities, however, is that this could reinvigorate the tie-in comic book range. The MCU has traditionally been supported by a large number of official tie-ins, but these have become increasingly lackluster of late, tending only to reproduce stories already seen on the big screen. It would be exciting to see these comics begin to add real value to the Marvel Cinematic Universe once again.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022